By Francesca Niamh Lavè & Shawn Francine Alexander Reo.
The International Law Student Association is a university-established organization that involves law students worldwide. Members of ILSA have the opportunity to join several committees, ranging from events organizing committees, which allow students to broaden their networking abilities, to the committee in charge of marketing, which relies on its members’ networking skills.
We have the chance to broaden the knowledge we acquire in university regarding international law, by meeting renowned scholars and organizing conferences and field trips to legal establishments such as, in this instance, Eurojust. The organization is based in the same premises as those of the ICC’s former headquarters.
This was where we were welcomed by the head of Public Relations of Eurojust: Ms. Leen de Zutter which provided us with great insight into the workings of Eurojust as the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit. The organization has been active since 2002 and, coincidentally, the table we sat around was the same one at which the 15 national members discussed the founding principles of Eurojust for the first time.
Since then, Eurojust has developed into an organization that brings together experienced prosecutors, judges, and police officers from all its member states. It serves as a platform that allows cooperation between organs of the countries within the European Union in dealing with criminal offences that affect international peace and security. The advantages the organization offers are clearly shown in the extraordinary increase in the number of cases brought to it by the member states since its creation. In its first year, 202 cases were brought before it, while in the year 2015 it handled 2214 cases.
The association is organized into two main operating bodies: college and administration. The first is composed of 28 national members and is responsible for the organization and operation of Eurojust and the second is headed by the administrative director which is in charge of the general management of Eurojust.
In order to promote and to expand the reach of Eurojust in the fight against international crime, it collaborates with three liaison prosecutors: USA, Norway, and Switzerland. Through these, Eurojust is able to cooperate with third states by using the Eurojust National Coordination Systems (ENCS).
Furthermore, the Eurojust has the authority to coordinate the investigation of cases that affect EU countries by setting up Joint Investigations Teams (JIT), providing the organization with the necessary information to work on the case in hand.
By better understanding Eurojust’s modus operandi, we were able to relate the contents of our studies to a working organization. We did so by mirroring what we learned in books to its application in real life situations.
Despite the complicated nature of cooperation between countries pertaining to different legal systems, the pivotal role of Eurojust has become much clearer now that Ms. De Zutter has presented the unit to us, highlighting the way Eurojust was and is perceived on an international scale, giving prominence to the importance public relations have in the perception of Eurojust on the European scene.
As international law students, we study the way different countries coexist on a global scale and can therefore appreciate the delicate balance that Eurojust helps to maintain between them.
The role played by Eurojust in this field is unprecedented. It is truly inspiring to see the results of the work that began only 14 years ago and has come so far.
Our visit to Eurojust has contributed to our understanding of its workings. Eurojust has grown as an organization, achieving an important role in the cooperation between European States with regards to international criminal cases, and as statistics have shown, it will acquire ever greater importance in the solving of criminal cases, not only within Europe but also worldwide.
´Till next time.