Taking it to Geneva

In September, JD student Natasha Robbins (TC 2010) travelled to Switzerland where she engaged in top-level debates about everything from prisoners of war to containing Ebola.

As a Juris Doctor student at the Melbourne Law School, there are many learning opportunities for students like Natasha Robbins. 

In 2014 she seized a rare chance to join a select group of fellow JD students for two weeks in Geneva, Switzerland. There they enjoyed insider meetings at the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization. 

For Natasha, it was a case of closing the textbooks and opening her eyes to witnessing theory in practice.

‘I have spent a lot of my studies trolling through volumes of International Law Commission draft articles and reports,’ Natasha said. ‘And then, to actually sit in a plenary session of the Commission, in the room with over 100 delegates speaking with translators in the United Nations … that was incredible.’ 

Natasha was granted a unique chance to talk international law with Sir Michael Wood, esteemed international law scholar and diplomat for the UK.

‘His knowledge and insight was truly inspiring,’ said Natasha.

Natasha also spent a day with Francis Gurry, an Australian ex-pat currently serving as Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

According to Natasha, ‘I found out that Australians are highly regarded in Geneva and in international law as being well educated and incredibly hard working. I was surprised at how many Australians are currently working in these international institutions, and the senior positions they hold.’

Natasha also met with Catherine Haswell (an Australian), who is a legal adviser for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

‘All the people who spoke to us held Melbourne Law School in such high regard as being one of the world’s leading law schools. They have been impressed by the work of the school’s graduates.’

These Geneva institutions rarely experience a quiet moment. Natasha and her group were there when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed, and the day when the Ebola virus was declared an international health crisis.

‘The trip was an extraordinary learning experience,’ Natasha said. ‘It was an academic highlight of my education thus far!’

The trip has left a firm mark on Natasha’s career aspirations.

‘I am particularly interested in the intersection between law and health policy. It was great to see the career options available to me and how my studies will provide a gateway to many exciting career paths.’
17 Oct 2014