2020 Online Summer Program in International Criminal Law and International Legal Approaches to Terrorism

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, American University Washington College of Law has suspended study abroad programs for summer 2020, including the Summer Law Program in The Hague. However, WCL is pleased to offer the program courses in an online format this year.

This online program is designed to give students as close to the same learning experience as you would have in The Hague. Central to this design is the War Crimes Research Office's collaboration with the T.M.C. Asser Institute, one of the most prominent research institutes of international law in Europe.

About the Program

American University Washington College of Law

American University Washington College of Law (WCL) was founded in 1896 by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma M. Gillett, who established a coeducational school to ensure that women, as well as men, were given the opportunity to study law. WCL has become one of the leading law schools in the U.S. in the area of international law. It is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is approved by the American Bar Association.

The T.M.C. Asser Institute

T.M.C. Asser Institute is a prominent research institute in international law. Through its affiliations with the University of Amsterdam and other Dutch centers of learning, the Asser Institute functions as an inter-university center of knowledge and research. The Institute’s research areas include private and public international law, European law, international commercial arbitration, and other related fields, such as international humanitarian law. An essential component of the Institute’s objectives is the development of young talent, including offering promising young lawyers the opportunity to carry out their Ph.D. research at the Institute.

American University Washington College of Law
American University Washington College of Law
The T.M.C. Asser Institute
The T.M.C. Asser Institute

Professor Susana SáCouto will serve as the Hague Program's WCL faculty in 2020. In addition to WCL faculty members, instructors include judges, prosecutors and other staff from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN International Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), the Dutch Court of Appeal (DCA), and other organizations. Past guest lecturers include:

  • HE Judge Kimberly Prost, Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
  • Mathias Marcussen, Senior Trial Attorney at the ICTY
  • HE Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, Vice President of the ICC
  • Helen Walker, International Cooperation Adviser, Office of the Prosecutor, ICC
  • Stéphane Bourgon, former President of the Association of Defence Counsels Practicing before the ICTY
  • HE Judge Teresa Doherty, Judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
  • Gilbert Bitti, Head of the Victim Unit of the ICC
  • HE Judge Fausto Pocar, Judge and former President of the ICTY
  • HE Judge Rene Blattmann, Judge at the ICC
  • HE Judge Bennouna, Judge at the ICJ
  • Norman Farrell, Prosecutor of the STL
  • HE Judge Christine van den Wyngaert, Judge at the KSC
  • HE Judge Howard Morrison, Judge at the ICC
  • Gregory Townsend, formerly with the MICT, STL, ICTY, and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda


The academic component of the Program consists of two 3-credit courses.

LAW 906-E001: International Criminal Law: In Search of Accountability will provide an introduction to international criminal law and explore the various ways in which national, internationalized, and international courts and tribunals have attempted to enforce criminal responsibility for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The course will also examine the role of states, their obligations under international law, and the obstacles they face in bringing to justice those responsible for international crimes.

LAW 907-E001: International Legal Approaches to Terrorism in the 21st Century will examine counter-terrorism measures from an international and comparative law perspective and consider the interrelation between these measures and the obligations of states under international human rights and humanitarian law. The course will explore the status of different international players under international law and address questions such as: What is the definition of terrorism? Is the use of force in response to acts of terrorism permitted under international law? Is international law adequately equipped to deal with the “war on terror”?

All classes will be taught in English. Each session is taught by practitioners and/or experts in the field, including judges, prosecutors, and other personnel from the ICJ, ICC, MICT, KSC, DCA, and other organizations. WCL faculty provide weekly review sessions throughout the program.

Students are expected to complete assigned readings, participate regularly in all scheduled classes and events, and successfully pass a final written exam for each course. The course grade will be based on attendance, participation, and final exam grade.

Program Structure

  • International Criminal Law: In Search of Accountability (Law-906-E001) will run from May 26 to June 5.
  • International Legal Approaches to Terrorism (Law-907-E001) will run from June 8 to June 18.
  • A reading period will follow the program from June 19 to June 25.
  • The exam period will run from June 26 to June 29. Students may complete their exams at any point during this time.

A draft program with daily agendas is available here.


Program participants are expected to earn six credits for the two courses. Applicants who intend to transfer credits should inquire about their law school’s policy on that issue. Applicants should be aware that participation in the program is unlikely to accelerate graduation for a full-time student.

The program includes virtual visits to international tribunals and legal institutions where students have an opportunity to learn about the institutions making history in international criminal law and legal approaches to terrorism today.

The program also includes a networking panel with WCL alumni and other practitioners now working in The Hague who can serve as valuable resources to students in the job and internship searches. The Asser Institute will also offer virtual intercultural sessions with their staff to introduce students to the Institute and life in The Hague.

The WCRO and Asser have research assistant opportunities available after the program. In addition, program staff can work with students on an individual basis in support of their career goals.

Admission to the program is on a first come, first served basis.

WCL students should follow the instructions on the WCL Registrar's webpage to enroll in both courses.

Visiting students should use this form to apply to the program. Please note that  must include a letter of good standing by their Dean or Registrar for the application to be considered.

Questions should be directed to hagueprogram@wcl.american.edu.


  • Full-time and part-time J.D. candidates who have completed their first year of study by May 2020
  • Candidates for graduate law degrees (LL.M., S.J.D.)
  • JD graduates
  • Graduate students in other disciplines may be eligible. The Program Director will determine their eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Visiting student applicants must be enrolled in good standing at an accredited university or law school and receive permission to attend WCL as demonstrated by a letter of good standing and permission to visit to be submitted with the application (a letter of good standing is not necessary for WCL students).

The Program tuition for 2020 is $11,335. This figure is equivalent to the cost of six (6) law school credits ($12,594), minus American University's 10% discount on summer programs this year given the changes in response to COVID-19. Please visit WCL Financial Aid's website for more information on summer cost of attendance.

Visiting students are required to submit a consortium agreement from their home institution should they seek to use financial aid for the program. Please make sure to write the course numbers and a contact email address on the agreement before submitting the documents.

2020 Hague Summer Certificate Program

Non-credit-seeking participants will receive a certificate of completion after successfully completing the program. If you are a law student or legal practitioner interested in a non-credit option, please email hagueprogram@wcl.american.edu for 2020 price information.

Cancellation Policy

The Program reserves the right to cancel at any time because of insufficient enrollment or for other good cause. In the event of cancellation, students will be notified by email.

Accommodations & Disability Support

Students seeking accommodations or disability support are encouraged to refer to the Office of Student Affairs' website for resources and contact information.