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International Law Explained

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Successful Statements of Excellence in International Law & Closely Related Areas

Sample 1st Paragraph Tax Law LLM, Pakistani Applicant to the LSE

A student from Pakistan who is now entering his final year of study towards the LLB Degree at the University of London in the School of Oriental and African Studies, I would like to proceed with my studies and upon finishing my LLB Degree, begin studying immediately towards my LLM Degree. While I am aware that your distinguished LLM Program at the London School of Economics has many qualified applicants, my grades reflect that I am capable of doing well in a rigorous program such as yours and I feel strongly that I am the best fit for LSE because of your mission, devotion to diversity, and commitment to the cause of economic and political progress in the Developing World. I hope to be accepted to the LSE primarily on the basis of my plans to contribute to economic development as a reformist tax lawyer in my native country, Pakistan, an especially critical player in regional, Middle East issues.

Sample Petition to Have the TOEFL Requirement Waived for LLM Applicant

Dear Mr. X,

I deeply appreciate your openness to student questions and petitions. The student-friendly nature of XXU is one of the reasons that I have my heart set on attending your highly competitive program—it is my absolute first choice. I have been accepted to 2 other programs based on an interview with the TOEFL subsequently waved and I ask you to please consider a similar arrangement for XXU. If you confirm, however, that no exception can be made even in light of my special circumstances, I will take it ASAP.

I have been working as a paralegal in New York for almost 5 years now. Since my arrival, my workplace has been all English and I have spent long hours working in English; even outside of the workplace my life has been almost entirely in English. I now even dream mostly in English, reflecting my level of absorption or adoption of the language. I still devote 70 hours a week to being a legal professional and taking the TOEFL, especially preparing to excel as I would so like to do, would be most difficult at this time, particularly since the test itself does little to advance my legal education. I thank you for your reconsideration and I want to emphasize that I am prepared to take the TOEFL if I have to—XXU will be worth it.


All of the Statement samples on this web site were written more than 2 years ago and all are anonymous.


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The Politics of International Law

The Humanitarian Side of International Law

As the world develops, some interesting changes take place. People are now traveling more than ever, the USA´s culture spreads throughout the world via media, films and television. The internet makes learning materials and resources available to lots more people than ever more, and the world just feels smaller.

International law will shape our future, and the future of those in the developing world perhaps more than most, due to the restrictions that reduced monetary funds has on life.

What is International Law Now?

International law and its treaties affects so many people. But what is international law in this day and age? Kal Raustiala talks about that in this video:

Martii Koskenniemi, who is from Turku, Finland, is an international lawyer and a former Finnish diplomat.

Currently he is professor of International Law in the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. He is also Centennial Professor at the Law Department of the London School of Economics.

Martii is well known for his critical approach to international law, which just makes him all the more interesting. You could say that he´s one of the great critical minds in contemporary scholarship of international law, and when he talks, no stone is left unturned.

Martii emphatically criticizes the “kitsch” of notions such as obligations erga omnes, international community and human rights. But what he demands is commitment.

Martii became a lawyer because he was one of those children who wanted to rule the world. He was always politically oriented, too.

So, it was natural for him to go to law school. But he found out later on that lawyers don´t rule the world. Not at all!

After law school, diplomatic school was a natural progression. Now he assumed that diplomats rule the world—born in part of one-sided attention to the operation of public institutions such as the United Nations.

Martii has enjoy many moments of enthusiasm. He really likes working in multilateral treaty contexts. He started out as an international environmental lawyer, being present when the UN Environment Program began to work on now long-forgotten declarations on offshore mining and drilling, land-based pollution.

Later, he wrote one of the first drafts of the Vienna Convention on Protection of the Ozone Layer.

Then when Finland was in the UN Security Council in 1989-1990, he was appointed legal counsel to the delegation. This was the time of the first Iraq war, and he was also enthusiastic about those dramatic and tragic events.

What struck him especially was that everybody was so interested in international law, all of a sudden: how to interpret Chapter 7 of the UN Charter – Articles 39, 40, 41, 42, 47, and so on.

As an international lawyer, Martii found himself an authority in that field. He was puzzled because the political leaders in power at the time thought the law of the UN Charter was important during those large political and military crises.

Turning to critical legal theory: In his doctoral thesis “From Apology to Utopia”, published in 1989, Martii argues that law doesn’t determine the solution of concrete cases. Rights can always be advanced for either side. And if we accept this indeterminacy thesis, what does it change for our profession as international lawyers? Martii says that we cannot commit to law. That committing to law is meaningless.

But if we no longer can commit to law – what is it that we can then commit to? This is a very difficult and important personal question. We can commit to our families, our nation, to ideas, socialism, liberalism, to people. But we cannot commit to law as the abstract language of international legality: we need to know what it is that law does in some specific situation, and only then it may become clear whether we should support, oppose or ignore it, says Martii.

What the topics of the future in international law? Where should we be most active? The Global South, says Martii: that is where the emphasis has to lie.

This comes with lots of subsidiary problems: one concerns the distribution of resources, between the North and the South, but perhaps equally within the South itself. The corruption of the elites is a big problem there.

Then we have climate change. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out, and it is says that we live in a time of tragedy. In 2050, the world will probably be hit very dramatically by the effects of climate change. It will have a particularly severe effect on the Global South. So economic and environmental issues in the South must be the main concerns, says Martii.