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Arthur Watts Fellowship

Law is fundamentally important to community life and prosperity. In the global dimension, public international law provides the order and structure to international activities; it operates through agreed laws, regulations and norms to enable states, organisations, corporations, individuals and other participants to work on the international plane. Public international law is increasingly a daily matter for governments, business leaders, lawyers, civil society organisations and other decision-makers. Much work still needs to be done to encourage greater engagement with, and observance of, the treaties, customary practices and institutions that inform and guide the many levels of international relationships. Public international law helps to address fundamental and complex matters, including, for example, international peace and security, armed conflict, terrorism and counter-terrorism, human rights, trade, taxation, business, communications and the environment. These are issues of concern to us all, in every state. 

 Sir Arthur Watts (1931-2007)  was one of the leading international lawyers of his generation with a career that spanned senior government service and successful private practice, with substantial scholarly output. The British Institute of International and Comparative Law established the Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellowship in Public International Law in his memory. The Fellowship is funded through the Arthur Watts Appeal with the aim of ensuring that the practical application of public international law remains securely at the heart of the Institute's work. That funding is supplemented by project funded secured to support the research programme implemented by the Watts Senior Fellow and the team of colleagues he works with.

The current Arthur Watts Senior Fellow in Public International Law is Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci.   Jean-Pierre works with a team of dedicated colleagues in pursuing the goals of the fellowship implementing a wide range of projects in the field of public international law and within that on human rights, migration, and trafficking. The role was previously held by Dr Markus Gehring and Jill Barrett.

Work of the Fellowship

The main aims of the Fellowship, with its research activities, training and events, are to:

  • Promote discussion and study of contemporary issues of public international law, combining conceptual analysis with working knowledge of its practice;
  • Develop comparative approaches to public international law, examining issues in international practice from a variety of different area, regional and national perspectives;
  • Analyse and critique British practice of public international law;
  • Foster links between international lawyers across government departments and embassies, private practice, the judiciary, academia and civil society organisations
  • Encourage participation of early career public international lawyers in the Watts programme and BIICL more broadly, especially in identifying and shaping the future.

The Fellowship has also performed a research incubator role within the institute, providing support for the development of research areas until they were able to be self-supported and self-standing. This includes our work on the Law of the Sea and on Energy Law, led by Constantinos Yiallourides  and on CClimate Change Law and Litigation, led by Ivano Alogna . The Watts Senior Fellow has also taken on the Role of Director of Teaching and Training, developing BIICL's evolving and well received training programme.

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