While the English version of our programme only started in autumn 2014, the French version ‘CDT’ has been successfully offered since 2000. Approximately 1100 students have obtained the certificate since its inception. Here are some impressions of the programme by some of its alumni:
Laura Tribess (University of Freiburg, Germany), CTL 2019:
"To study international law in Geneva was surely the best decision I have taken during my university time. The high quality of teaching, the variety of courses offered and fellow students from all over the world made this a unique experience. The CDT/CTL program can also help open doors in the professional field. Personally, I was able to complete an internship at the European Court of Justice through my participation in the European Law Moot Court in the team of the University of Geneva. I can thus only recommend the CDT/CTL to anyone interested in working in the field of international law."
Petra Rešlová (Charles University, Czech Republic), CTL 2021:
The Certificate in Transnational Law programme brought me even more benefits than I expected. For example, the course on comparative methodology proved to be extremely useful for my career. When applying for internships with prestigious institutions like the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals or the European Court of Human Rights, I discovered that these courts list drafting memoranda on issues of comparative law as one of the main tasks for their interns. And thanks to the CTL programme, I have gained valuable experience and skills in the field.
Maximilian Häntzschel (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany), CTL 2018:
"The range of topics taught by professors, who all share a practical background in their field of research, demonstrated very well how international law is distinctively linked and intertwined with the non-legal matters it serves to regulate. This approach always revealed the nature of the law in action and the institutions involved in it, instead of what most of us were used to: law in the books. I very much valued the teaching staff’s commitment to their students and the interaction and open discussion during lectures."
Tessa Hayes (Harvard Law School, USA), CDT:
"I would definitely recommend studying in Geneva for anyone who is interested in international law. The breadth of international courses available is impressive, and as an extremely international city, Geneva is a fitting setting for those studies. For instance, there’s just something very cool about taking an international trade law class in the home city of the WTO – in fact, Professor Marceau, who is one of the top lawyers at the WTO, even held class at the headquarters one day, and we all sat at the delegates’ seats in the big hall. All in all, it was a great semester for me, and I’d be happy to talk to anyone who is wondering about doing the program."
Greg Toth (University of Florida, USA), CTL:
"Studying international and comparative law at the university of Geneva was a wonderful experience for me. Thanks to my studies in Geneva, I now have a job in Japan [...]. And, I will begin as an adjunct professor at a nearby university in Tokyo next semester. […] I like the job because I was allowed to immediately join teams working on large cases (in the WTO and otherwise). The lawyers in charge requested that I be assigned to them because they saw that I had attended the University of Geneva!"
Amelie Berz (Heidelberg University, Germany), CTL 2018:
"Both the range of subjects covered by the law lectures and the teaching in Geneva were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the Comparative Law course; you won't get any closer to comparative law than reading the respective provisions and court decisions of different jurisdictions yourself, comparing them, and questioning the solution of your own jurisdiction. There were even certain legal solutions in my own jurisdiction which I only understood after taking this class.
I studied with an extraordinary number of kind and motivated students from all over the world. This brought with it the advantage that in class and in private discussion amongst students, we learned about different legal systems even beyond the subjects taught by the professors. Furthermore, every one of us built up an international network of diverse legal thinkers which we can take advantage of when researching in the area of comparative law – whether in practice or academia. Lastly, German students may be interested in getting involved with the ‘Genf Gesellschaft’, which organizes a host of must-do events."
Peter Stavros (Harvard Law School, USA), CTL:
"This past semester with the Certificate in Transnational Law program has been a tremendously positive experience! I was very impressed by the number and variety of international law classes offered at the University of Geneva. The option to cross-register at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies is an added benefit that I have taken advantage of. The CTL may well be one of the most useful exchange opportunities available to law students interested in expanding their horizons beyond domestic jurisprudence.”
Leanna Katz (University of Toronto, Canada) , CDT:
"I had a wonderful time in the CTL/CDT program this past term. I came on exchange from the University of Toronto. I was very impressed by the course offerings, the quality of teaching, and the diverse and vibrant group of students. Coming from an anglophone common law background, I challenged myself by taking courses in French and about the civil law, and I am so glad I did. It was an excellent capstone on my legal education to engage in comparative law – both in class and through learning from my colleagues from around the world. I have been speaking highly about the CTL/CDT program to my colleagues and professors back in Toronto. I look forward to opportunities to stay in touch through the CTL/CDT network."
Roman Wolf (Heidelberg University, Germany), CTL:
"Participating in the CTL programme at the University of Geneva placed me at the crossroads of common law and civil law in class. The amazingly vivid discussions between students and professors from all over the globe outlined the commonalities and differences between jurisdictions throughout the world. […] The very international study environment at the University of Geneva provides a great opportunity to sharpen one's understanding of both foreign and one’s own national law. Coming from a German civil law background, I was impressed by the quality of teaching and by my fellow students […]."
Schirin Vodicka (University of Freiburg, Germany), CDT 2022:
" 'Bienvenue !', Ces mots chaleureux ont résonné le 20 septembre dans le grand auditorium du bâtiment Uni-Mail. Le professeur Kadner Graziano et son équipe d’assistants nous ont accueillis à bras ouverts, nous, les nouveaux étudiants du CDT. J’ai vite remarqué que les étudiants à côté de moi étaient attentifs au discours et qu’ils tendaient encore un peu plus l’oreille quand le professeur racontait des carrières intéressantes que ses anciens CDTistes avaient suivies après avoir obtenu leur certificat. Après un an, et un programme CDT terminé, je peux bien comprendre cela. Que le CDT ait un effet précieux sur mon parcours futur, j’en suis sûr moi aussi :
C’est quasiment incroyable tout ce que j’ai appris en un an. Sur le plan linguistique, professionnel et personnel, j’ai progressé.
Je suis presque fière d’écrire ce texte en français, car il y a un an, cela n’aurait pas été aussi simple. Lorsque je me suis inscrite au programme, j’ai longtemps hésité : dois-je le faire en français ou en anglais ? Mon français n’était pas aussi bon à ce point. Je l’avais choisi comme troisième langue à l’école, puis je ne l’ai pas utilisé pendant des années à l'université. „Mais qui ne tent rien, n’a rien“, je me suis dit, et j’ai décidé de choisir des cours en français. Et je ne l’ai pas regretté!
Les professeurs étaient tous très compréhensif pour les accents remarquables et les constructions grammaticales parfois incorrectes. Ce qui était beaucoup plus important, c’était l’effort et la pensée juridique correcte. La langue est ensuite venue d’elle-même au cours de l'année.
J’ai également réalisé que mes difficultés en français étaient dues à une certaine timidité. Mais je l'ai vite oubliée lorsque j'ai remarqué qu'à Genève, une ville si internationale, beaucoup de gens apportent leur accent personnel, qu'ils ont ramené de leur pays d'origine. Il en va de même pour l'anglais, bien sûr !
Mais ce n'est pas seulement mon français qui s'est amélioré, j'ai acquis une toute nouvelle compréhension juridique. La possibilité de choisir dans un catalogue de cours ceux qui m'intéressaient le plus a été une expérience totalement nouvelle. J'ai pu découvrir de nouveaux domaines juridiques auxquels je n'avais pas accès au sein de mon université allemande. Chaque matière s'orientait vers un domaine juridique différente, mais ce qu'elles avaient toutes en commun, c'était la dimension internationale.
Ce que j'ai trouvé particulièrement passionnant, c'est que les cours avaient souvent une approche de droit comparé ! Le fait d'être sorti de la bulle des doctrines juridiques allemandes était rafraîchissant et m'a ouvert les yeux. En connaissant maintenant la relativité des solutions allemandes, je peux mieux les critiquer, mais aussi mieux les défendre. Oui, je dirais que c'est justement en comparaison avec d'autres juridictions que j'ai appris à mieux connaître ma juridiction allemande. Cette expérience m'a donné une bonne dose de confiance en moi sur le plan juridique.
La capacité de penser de manière critique et de formuler clairement ses idées lors de discussions est entraînée de manière intensive dans les cours du CDT. La plupart des professeurs attendaient une participation active, qui était également précédée d'une préparation par la lecture de lois et de jugements. La participation active peut bien sûr mettre mal à l'aise au début, mais c'est justement ce qui m'a fait sortir de ma zone de confort qui m'a inspiré par la suite. En outre, j'ai trouvé particulièrement agréable que tous les professeurs soient toujours très intéressés par les idées des étudiants, qu'ils les prennent en compte et les apprécient.
Et pour finir, une chose personnelle : Le programme m'a également permis de me faire des amis très précieux. Il est facile de rencontrer à Genève des gens qui sont très ouverts et intéressants. De l'Espagne au Liban, les étudiants genevois viennent du monde entier. J'ai donc passé de merveilleux moments avec mes nouveaux amis. Skier, se promener, se baigner, manger une fondue, aller danser, il y a beaucoup de choses à découvrir à Genève, aussi à côté de l’université.
Dans l'ensemble, je peux dire que mon expérience avec le CDT a été merveilleuse à tous les niveaux ! Faites-le vous aussi, le CDT vous inspirera!"
Albert Mengual Mallol (University of Barcelona, Spain), CDT:
"The Certificate in Transnational Law has been an essential element in the beginning of my international career. The possibility to tailor the program has allowed me to delve into both public and private international law studies. Afterwards, I have been in a position to complete an internship in the private sector (Lalive Avocats), as well as in an international organization (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights). I would recommend the CTL to anyone wishing to be professionally involved in international legal practice."
Monica Lamb, JD (Columbia University, School of Law, USA), CDT:
“The quality of my professors and classmates was outstanding. […] The depth of the issues we addressed in courses was challenging and satisfying even from a graduate student's perspective. […] By the time I was finished, I felt like I really had learned useful law that would make me feel comfortable operating in a transnational context – whether for a client, doing research, or making policy.
I was never aware of what a cosmopolitan place the University of Geneva is before I started there! In our Certificate class, I don't think there were more than five or six students from any one country. And they came from all over the word, not just Western Europe. Each student had the honor (and responsibility!) of being the expert on his or her national law, and offering a unique perspective on the legal questions at issue. We never ceased to be amazed at the fact that such different legal rules could, at the same time in different countries, be assumed to be the only reasonable rule to follow! We learned as much from each other as we did from our professors, who were themselves quite an international crowd as well!
I strongly urge law students to take the challenge and earn the Certificate of Transnational Law. When we earn our degrees, we will begin working in a very small world peopled with very diverse legal thinkers. The day is long past when lawyers can hide behind their national boundaries from foreign laws, foreign regulation, and foreign legal philosophy. The globalization of the economy and of the marketplace of ideas has seen to that. How better to prepare yourself for this profession than by reaching out while you are a student and making the contacts and exploring the ideas that you will use for the rest of your international career?"
Rosemary Grain (University of Exeter, UK), CDT
"The service offered to exchange students by the university is fantastic. Completing the necessary paperwork for enrolling at Geneva was relatively simple, and before I arrived I was sent a very useful booklet which contained all the information I needed to fulfill Swiss administrative procedures as well as about life in Geneva. I was very happy with the level of care shown to me as an exchange student. Once I arrived in Switzerland, the welcome we were given helped us to adjust to life in a foreign country as quickly as possible. […]
Taking the CDT diploma has really opened my eyes to global possibilities for today's lawyers, and shown me a fuller picture of law, which crosses not only borders but also national legal reasoning. There is so much more to learn, explore and work with than the law of just one country! The central CDT course [Comparative Methodology: Contract Law], is fascinating as well as useful, as it helped me to break away from the logic of the national law that I had been learning, and realise that other countries can come up with totally unexpected legal solutions that function equally well, or even better! The course taught me to evaluate laws in relation to those of other countries, rather than within a national system, which has given me a much wider perspective and allowed me to think more flexibly about law as a whole. For a student coming from a common law country, being able to learn how civil legal systems work was an added bonus.
There are many other optional courses available […]. I mixed and matched between them and learned things I would never have otherwise been able to. Having such flexibility is brilliant, as you can study the things you really enjoy and find interesting. Most areas were entirely new to me, but the depth of the topics covered meant that I could learn a lot about the subjects I chose.
I believe that taking the CDT course can also open up various possibilities for students to work internationally. Geneva is home to so many NGOs that it is the perfect place in which to study international law. […] It is worth trying to apply for an internship with an organisation such as the UN during your stay. In classes there is often interaction between the students and the Professor. There are also opportunities to ask questions before, after or during each class. In addition, students can contact the Professors' assistants, who act as a bridge between the students and Professor. The atmosphere of the university is welcoming and relatively informal.
I would recommend taking the CDT course to anyone who is interested in international law, as there are a huge number of courses available and level of teaching is absolutely excellent. I would also recommend it to anyone who is interested in law from a more theoretical perspective, as gaining a wider view of law is very interesting and allows you to look at what you have learnt so far in a different way. Taking the CDT diploma meant that I was studying with motivated people from all over the world, and I hope that some of the friends I made on the course will be friends for life."
Foelke Redlich (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany), CTL:
"Participating in the CTL has given me the opportunity to chose from a wide range of courses and to put together a timetable that fits my interests and makes me discover some new areas of law. It was also possible to include the European Law Moot Court in the curriculum, an international competition that let our team dive deep into a specific case, develop pleadings and argue with other teams in a simulated court session. One of my team members won the finale of the competition in which she pleaded before in front of real CJEU judges and advocate generals in Luxembourg.
This program is not only academically enriching, it has also been very beneficial in terms of career opportunities. Since participating in the CTL program at the University of Geneva, I have had tremendous success in finding interesting internships. Immediately after receiving the Certificate, I get to prove my knowledge of Transnational Law at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Germany to the United Nations in Geneva. Moreover I have been granted a traineeship at the Council of the European Union in Brussels, where I will be working on issues of Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law. After completing the CTL, which covers a wide range of the topics I will be working on, I feel absolutely ready for these challenges. I am looking forward to putting what I learned into practice and I have no doubt my experiences in working in both English and French together with fellow students from all over the world will be very helpful. "