Universiteit Leiden | Bij ons leer je de wereld kennen. Leiden University | Discover the world at Leiden University.

Get to know Nico Schrijver and discover how law can lead to peace

Ask people ‘If you had one wish, what would it be?’, and the majority will answer ‘world peace’. But how do you achieve world peace? And what is the role of international law? These are the questions Professor Nico Schrijver tries to answer.

Read more about the research of Nico Schrijver into how to achieve peace and security, about research and teaching on this topic at Leiden University and about their impact on society.

Discover the world at Leiden University.

Research: international law as an aid to world peace

Who owns a particular piece of land or a rock out at sea? Can and should the international community intervene in a conflict in a country such as Syria? Professor of International Law Nico Schrijver researches such issues and the evolution of international law. He helps answer the question of how countries, with all their different interests, cultures and histories, can agree to the rules that everyone must obey. Schrijver also advises on peaceful conflict resolution and how to improve respect for human rights.

Research (Dutch) Watch video

Eradicating inequality, violence and poverty are goals that the world has spent a long time trying to achieve, but countries do not by any means always agree on how to interpret these goals (for example, what our human rights are) or how to achieve them. How has international law evolved over the years? How can it help make a safer and more sustainable world? Nico Schrijver researches these questions, taking a particular interest in the past, present and future role of the United Nations.

Schrijver is Academic Director of the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, and he and his colleagues at the centre conduct research and lecture on international law. The centre maintains close links with various leading institutes in the field of international jurisprudence, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which mediates in international disputes and which counts Schrijver among its members.

Schrijver is also much in demand as an academic who applies his knowledge in various ways, both in the Netherlands and abroad. He sits on different UN advisory boards in the field of human rights and international law, is a member of the Senate of the Dutch Parliament (PvdA Party) and is chair of the Law Committee of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He also sat on the controversial Davids Committee, which investigated the decision of the Dutch government to offer political support to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Four research themes: from peace and security to sustainable development

Peace and security

We all want world peace, but what is it exactly? What do you need to do to achieve peace? Nico Schrijver researches these questions and issues advice.

More about Peace and security

Human rights

As a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Nico Schrijver helps assess the reports states submit to the UN on human rights in their country.

More about Human rights

The UN and international law

The original aim of the United Nations was to bring about peace and security in the world. ‘The UN has never managed to organise itself in such a way to achieve this goal,’ says Schrijver. How should the UN be organised then?

More about The UN and international law

Natural resources

Natural resources such as oil and gas have always been a source of conflict. Which state owns these resources? Nico Schrijver researches the development of international law in this area.

More about Natural resources
‘If the UN is to achieve its goals, institutional reform will be necessary’

Teaching: ‘People with a good education are the cement of society’

Nico Schrijver lectures on various bachelor’s and master’s programmes, within and outside the Faculty of Law. ‘I like teaching,’ he says. ‘And lectures are very important. They allow students to put a face to a discipline. I, at least, really liked that during my own studies. The names of good lecturers stay with you for the rest of your life. Furthermore, teaching is important because people with a good education are the cement of society.’

Teaching (Dutch) Watch video

Programmes in the area of international law and peace

Leiden University offers various outstanding programmes that could inspire you to help create a peaceful international community. You could study law or international law, but if you are more interested in understanding international institutes and diplomacy, the International Relations programme could be for you. If you want to learn about the causes of conflicts between countries, you might want to consider studying History.

Law : Law affects our everyday lives. Buying bread or topping up the call credit on your mobile phone are legal acts in themselves. The study of law is more than big legal cases; on the programme you also deal with everyday matters.

International Studies : Intrigued by the cause and effect of the Eurocrisis, the emergence of new economies or the Arab Spring? In the English-taught Bachelor’s programme in International Studies, you study the history, culture, politics and economy of a world region and learn the language that is spoken there.

History : To study history is to seek answers to questions from all periods and regions. Delve into the past of humanity. One minute you will consider the meaning of a brief line from a medieval ledger and the next you will try to figure out the impact of slavery on different societies.

University College : Leiden University’s international honours programme. All course units are taught in The Hague, the city of international peace and security.

Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology : Each person belongs to a society. What are the similarities and differences between societies in the world? Who determines the ‘rules’ of a society? How do individuals deal with these? These are the questions that you will try to answer if you choose to study Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology.

More researchers of international law and peace

  • Freya Baetens
  • Barend Barentsen
  • Tom Barkhuysen
  • Niels Blokker
  • Stefaan Van den Bogaert
  • Eric de Brabandere
  • Alex Geert Castermans
  • Tineke Cleiren
  • Daniëlla Dam-de Jong
  • John Dugard
  • Horst Fischer
  • Paul van der Heijden
  • Guus Heerma van Voss
  • Robert Heinsch
  • Larissa van den Herik
  • Christophe Hillion
  • Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
  • Rick Lawson
  • Mette Léons
  • Pablo Mendes de Leon
  • Gert Oostindie
  • Vid Prislan
  • William Schabas
  • Alfred van Staden
  • Carsten Stahn
  • Carel Stolker
  • Christa Tobler
  • Wim Voermans
  • Kees Waaldijk
  • Ruben Zandvliet

Freya Baetens Associate Professor of Law

Possesses expertise in the field of environmental law and sustainability issues.

Barend Barentsen Professor of Labour Law (Albeda Chair)

Researches rights and duties of employees and employers in the event of occupational incapacity.

Tom Barkhuysen Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law

Researches the influence of EU law and human rights on national law.

Niels Blokker Professor of International Institutional Law (Schermers Chair)

Researches international organisations. Wrote about the Security Council and the use of force with Nico Schrijver.

Stefaan Van den Bogaert Professor of European Law

Studies international aspects of the EU, market regulation, competition law and sport law.

Eric de Brabandere Associate Professor of International Law

Researches conflict settlement and arbitration at the international level.

Alex Geert Castermans Professor of Civil Law

Researches social responsibility of multinationals. Coordinates the University research profile ‘Interaction between Legal Systems’.

Tineke Cleiren Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

Coordinates the University research profile ‘Interaction between Legal Systems’.

Daniëlla Dam-de Jong Assistant Professor

Researches the relationship between natural resources and armed conflict.

John Dugard Emeritus Professor of Public International Law

Specialises in international criminal law, human rights, peace, security and terrorism.

Horst Fischer Professor of International Humanitarian Law (Netherlands Red Cross Chair)

Specialises in international humanitarian law and international criminal law.

Paul van der Heijden Professor of International Labour Law

Researches how international labour law around the world can help ensure people have decent work and a safe workplace.

Guus Heerma van Voss Professor of Labour Law

Researches the internationalisation of labour law, primarily in the EU.

Robert Heinsch Associate Professor of International Criminal Law and Humanitarian Law

Wrote a book about the jurisprudence of the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals.

Larissa van den Herik Professor of Public International Law

Researches themes varying from genocide to company liability for international offences.

Christophe Hillion Professor of Institutional Law in the European Union

The EU: protection of national minorities, fundamental rights, expansion and external relations.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Professor of International Relations and Diplomatic Practice (Kooijmans Chair)

Researches the role of international law in foreign policy and the role of international organisations such as NATO and the UN.

Rick Lawson Professor of European Law (Kirchheiner Chair: Protection of Integrity of the Individual) and Dean of the Faculty of Law

Expert in human rights and European law.

Mette Léons Programme Coordinator for master’s programmes at the Grotius Centre

Also coordinates the annual Telders International Law Moot Court Competition, which is held in the Peace Palace.

Pablo Mendes de Leon Professor of Air and Space Law

Researches the legal aspects of air and space travel.

Gert Oostindie Professor of Caribbean History and Director of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)

Research includes problems of decolonisation.

Vid Prislan PhD fellow under supervision of Nico Schrijver

Researches the relationship between international investor-state dispute settlement and national courts.

William Schabas Professor of Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law

Researches war tribunals, the political aspects in particular.

Alfred van Staden Professor of International Relations

Specialised in the interaction between international law and international politics.

Carsten Stahn Professor of International Criminal Law & Global Justice

Researches how to create a just and sustainable peace.

Carel Stolker Professor of Private Law, Rector Magnificus

Wrote about liability law and the claim culture. Nico Schrijver’s contact in the field of research methodology.

Christa Tobler Professor of European Law

Expert on bilateral law of Switzerland and the EU, discrimination, administrative law and economics, legal equality and social law.

Wim Voermans Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law

Specialises in the Constitution and European Constitutional Law

Kees Waaldijk Professor of Comparative Sexual Orientation Law

Compare the law on homosexuality in countries and international organisations.

Ruben Zandvliet PhD fellow in International Labour Law under the supervision of Nico Schrijver

Researches the effectiveness of new international agreements on the protection of employees, principally in low-wage countries.

Impact: influence on the world

The world of...

Discover the world in Leiden. Leiden’s researchers collaborate with colleagues throughout the world, often from other adjacent disciplines. Nico Schrijver also works with eminent colleagues from different countries. The world map below shows a number of Nico Schrijver’s global contacts.

The World (Dutch) Watch video