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Apr 30, 2014

Strathmore Law School: The European Experience

The SL Brussels jet touched down at the airport in Brussels at around 7 a.m. Monday morning, the 31st of March. Aboard were 70 members from the Strathmore Law School, both students and faculty. We were all in Europe as part of course program in what was termed as an ‘Academic Trip’.

 

Our schedule was efficiently laid out to cover four countries and visit some of the most important places, including governance centers and top universities in the four countries. From the airport we travelled by bus to the Palace of Justice in Brussels, which is the building that hosts the law courts. The Palace of Justice is an old building, that is under renovation and in it are statues of some of the greatest jurists of all time, like Marcus Cicero and Charles Von Montesquieu.

 

The building reminded us of the Rule of Law and its ability to stand the test of time, whether men are following it or not. This was evidenced by the old age of the building. In the afternoon we had a three-hour journey to Luxembourg, the country with the second highest PPP per capita in the world. We were scheduled to visit the European Court of Human Rights, renowned for its unparalleled advancement of Jurisprudence in the discipline of Human Rights.

 

On the same bus, with the famous driver Henk, we travelled to Koln, Germany. Here we visited the University of Cologne, and held lively discussions on the role of the International Criminal Court in Kenya. It was an enlightening experience for us all and it introduced new horizons, from the scholarly perspective, on the activities of the ICC.

 

While in Koln, we also visited The Dome, a cathedral that is hundreds of years old and that was the only structure left standing when Koln was flattened by the Allies during World War II. This cathedral reminded us of what great things the human hand can do and the transcendental nature of human works of art.

 

Next was Netherlands. We visited Erasmus University, Rotterdam, where we were introduced to the Dutch legal system and the various courses offered at the university. The interactions between Strathmore and Erasmus will in future work to expand the horizons of the students in giving them an international outlook.

 

We were privileged to be hosted by Kenyan Embassy in The Hague, and received by Ambassador Ms. Rose Makena Muchiri, an inspiring lady, who explained a diplomats duties to further Kenya’s agenda in trade, politics and general co-operation.

In The Hague, dubbed the City of Justice and Peace, we visited the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

 

It was quite a privilege to sit in for a hearing at the ICC during the Ruto and Sang case and at the ICTY during the case of Goran Hadzic. The two processes asserted the principle of rule of law since former and current Presidents are being tried here. No matter how powerful, no one is above the law. While at The Hague, the Deputy Mayor hosted us for a cocktail at the Town Hall and explained how delighted she was to host students from Kenya.

 

From the Netherlands, we travelled back to Brussels, and there we visited the European Commission; the principal administrative organ of the European Union (EU) & the European Parliament, which is the principal law making organ of the EU. These two organs proved indeed what great things can be achieved when regions co-operate and pull-together to achieve their shared goals. Similarly, they showed us that the great dream of a few men could be worked to achieve peace, prosperity and stability in a region where suspicion existed previously. These few men are the founders of the European Union; Robert Schuman and the others.

 

We were also able to visit Ghent University, where we learnt of their LLM programs and even signed collaboration with SLS. Later, we were hosted by the Kenyan Ambassador, Mr. Weru, who explained to us the trade relations between the EU and Kenya and explained that these relations were on an all-time upward trajectory.

 

General, the visit to Europe was eye-opening and will forever be etched in the students’ memory for a long time to come. As the student-body, we sincerely thank the school administration for making this trip possible and we look to further exposure by the University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Benedict Nzioka, SLS

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