I've been attending the International Law Association conference in The Hague this week.
The ILA is a rather unique body. Really, it is the only truly universal international law organization that is open to all who wish to join. Most members are academics, practising lawyers and diplomats. Many doctoral students attend the meetings and participate actively. The ILA holds a conference somewhere in the world every two years, and has been doing so since its founding, in 1873. The previous one was in Rio de Janeiro. The next one, in 2012, will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
This year's conference has its own website and its own blog. I won't try and duplicate the very useful and informative descriptions of the events that are to be found on the Conference blog.
The Conference lasts four full days. Its sessions include a number of thematic meetings, although the heart of the work of the Association and its Conference is in the Committees. Yesterday, the Committee on the International Criminal Court met, and its report was adopted. The Committee also adopted a resolution which calls for States to ratify the new amendments to the Rome Statute. Other Committees deal with such thematic topics as human rights and the use of force.
The reports of the Committees are authoritative, and provide a useful guide to the directions that international law is taking.
The Conference is also a great occasion to meet old friends and make new ones. All of the major publishers have book tables, and one can quickly get up to date with all of the new publications. Most are for sale at a fraction of the regular price. Doctoral students would get much benefit from attending.
The Association does much of its work through national branches. In Ireland, our national branch was revived a couple of years ago and now has many members, including a significant number of doctoral students, for whom the membership fee scale is very advantageous.