Study Trip to the Vienna International Center

On the 29th January 2024, our LL.M. had the unique opportunity to visit the impressive United Nations Headquarters alongside students from the University of Graz under the guidance of the renowned former head of the International Law Office of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Mag. Helmut Tichy. This excursion was particularly timely, since the impressive setting of the Vienna International Centre (VIC) has been home to numerous international organizations since August 1979 and is therefore celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. 

Our study trip commenced with an enriching visit to the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations.At the Andromeda Tower, we were warmly welcomed by Minister Counsellor Mag. Dr. Johann Spitzer and Attacheé Gloria Bozyigit. First, Mag. Dr. Spitzer provided an insightful overview of the Mission, which represents Austria within the international organizations UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs), CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization), as well as UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He further highlighted the challenges of multilateral diplomacy and explained the “Vienna Spirit” to not force a vote but to take the extra mile to find consensus, and that “a good compromise leaves everybody equally unhappy”. These insights resonated with what we had already learned in great detail in Professor Neuhold’s lecture on the Legal Foundations of World Politics. Following this, we engaged in an eye-opening, practical case study on an Ad Hoc Committee tasked with elaborating a UN Cybercrime Convention, which led to an intense and lively debate. Given that the UN Member States are simultaneously convening in New York this week to conclude negotiations on the final text of the UN Cybercrime Treaty, this was a valuable opportunity to step into the roles of diplomats and apply the comprehensive skills we have gained from the LL.M. courses. Especially our extensive knowledge on treaty interpretation from the course on the Law of Treaties by Professor Binder proved invaluable during this exercise. 

The afternoon session featured a guided tour of the Vienna International Centre (VIC) after a lunch break. Subsequently, a senior legal officer from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) delved into the organization's history from a legal perspective. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty seeks to prohibit all forms of nuclear weapon test explosions across various environments. The session gained further depth through interactive discussions, allowing students to pose questions and satisfy their curiosity while engaging with the legal aspects of the CTBTO's mission. 

Afterwards, we were treated to a lecture on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by two of its Legal Officers. They explained to the group how the IAEA contributes to the international community by assisting States in the implementation of nuclear power and nuclear energy, as well as protecting the world from nuclear catastrophes and conflicts. It was an engaging talk, showing us how nuclear energy can equally be utilised peacefully to benefit our society. To end our day at the Vienna International Centre, we were given the opportunity to ask some questions to the Legal Officers, and they gave us an interesting insight in the life of a foreign service member and some helpful career advice to take home with us. 
In conclusion, it was a very interesting day at the VIC!

Paulina Rundel, Sulva Joshi, Maurits Geerardyn