London Law Program students visit NATO headquarters in Brussels

Author: Charles Williams

The Law School’s spring 2020 International Criminal Law course is being taught, appropriately enough, at Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway, near Trafalgar Square.

With NATO headquarters in Brussels within a short train ride on the EuroStar, Professor Jimmy Gurulé concluded that a class trip would be a great way to begin the semester by focusing his London Law Program students on “global affairs and principles of international law regarding the use of force in collective self-defense.” 

Accordingly, Gurulé arranged for his class to receive a VIP tour of the new building that has housed NATO headquarters staff since the summer of 2018. There a colleague, Steven Hill, the top legal adviser in NATO’s Office of Legal Affairs, lectured on the purpose, history and current challenges confronting the 29-member organization and examined the key provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty. John Johnson, public affairs officer to the U.S. Mission to NATO, also met with the class to present the U.S. perspective on NATO. Students were then afforded ample time to ask questions of Hill and Johnson.

Nato BerlinwallA section of the Berlin Wall is displayed outside NATO headquarters.

“NATO is frequently referred to as the most effective military alliance in recent history,” Gurulé said. “Visiting NATO headquarters afforded Notre Dame Law students the opportunity to view first-hand the importance of international cooperation in maintaining international peace and security and deterring state-sponsored acts of aggression.”

The Notre Dame London Law Program gives students the option of spending either a semester or a full academic year studying in London. The oldest study-abroad program run by an American law school, it celebrated its 50th year in 2018.

The NATO trip is but one example of the opportunities that students in the London Law Program have to learn about international and comparative law. Students in the program last year visited the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, with the program’s director, Michael Addo, who previously served as Member and Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights as well as the Coordination Committee of the United Nations Special Procedure Mandate Holders.

Nato 9119/11 and Article 5 Memorial

“The trip to NATO headquarters in Brussels was an immediate highlight of my semester in London,” said Jana McCord, a 2L in Professor Gurulé’s class. “The incredible opportunity to take a tour of the world-class facilities and have a lecture and discussion with the top legal minds of NATO was just a glimpse into how the London Law Program fully integrates classroom learning into practical, real-world application." 

Another member of the class, 2L Tim Villari, noted that the trip and discussions with NATO’s legal advisers was a learning experience unlike any that could be acquired in a standard classroom format. “The London Program takes the phrase ‘different kind of lawyer’ seriously,” he said, “and it commits to its global mission by providing students opportunities such as this to learn the law via real-world, tangible experiences and perspective. It is something I will forever be grateful for."

Learn more about the Notre Dame London Law Program at law.nd.edu/london.

Originally published by Charles Williams at law.nd.edu on January 31, 2020.