AIJA Best International Future Lawyers Award • 2019


We are excited to invite law students to participate in the Best International Future Lawyer Award competition focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this year. The competition is organised by AIJA, the international association of young lawyers.

The aim of the competition is to develop law students’ understanding of the global development agenda. We want to encourage them to identify international legal frameworks or law approaches in achieving the SDGs.

Submission should consist of a written essay (in English) that explores the role, potential and limitation of international law in achieving the SDGs. Given the cross-cutting nature of the SDGs, submissions should address the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social. The essay can concentrate on one of the 17 SDGs or a mix of these goals. However, don’t feel held back. A strong argumentation that goes beyond the SDGs is also accepted. Ultimately, the essay should respond to the following question:

“If I could change the world…how can I, as a future lawyer, contribute to a more sustainable world?”

The winner 2019

Winner 2019 - Xuejun Zhao

Xuejun Zhao’s essay delves specifically into SDG 13: Climate Action, where the current trend of climate litigation is analyzed. Her essay explores the feasibility of climate litigation, and considers the existing domestic cases, as well as the possibility of turning to the international realm.

Her essay illustrates that, while the courts may be our best hope of reversing the damage done to our planet, the domestic context may not be the solution. Hence, Xuejun’s essay analyses the possibility of creating of an International Environmental Court as a means of achieving SDG 13. In doing so, the issue of jurisdiction is considered, in addition to private party access.

Xuejun graduated from the University of Groningen in September 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in International and European Law. Due to her interest in sustainability, Xuejun continued her studies at the same university by pursuing a Master’s degree in Climate and Energy Law.

Read here the essay

Winner of previous editions

2018 - “Lunar Law - Is it mere Colony Law with Cosmic Application?”, Christopher Sawyer - Read here the essay

2017 - “Will the increasing use of technology in law invigorate or diminish legal professionalism as the nature of information in the Digital Society changes?”, Lorraine Chimbga - Read here the essay

2016 - “Governing Shared Natural Resources of the International Seabed Area”, Sharefah Almuhana - Read here the essay


The 2019 Winner will be honoured with:

Free AIJA membership until 2022.

Publication of the winner’s name and essay on AIJA’s channels.

Invitation to attend free of charge the 2019 International Young Lawyers’ Congress taking place in Rome, Italy, from 3-7 September. Travel and accommodation will also be covered.

1-year scholarship with Loyola Law School.

Special Recognition

This year, AIJA is pleased to award two special mentions
in addition to the best international future lawyer award.

The two special mentions are awarded to Judith Creppy for her essay ‘Would legal personhood help to ensure a better protection for the environment?’ and Rebeca Spuch for her essay on the intersection between education and the Sustainable Development Goals. The two essays have proven great quality, as well as a good understanding of the SDGs and law.

Judith’s essay, titled ‘Would legal personhood help to ensure a better protection for the environment?” draws a brief overview of international environmental law and its principles to discuss the potentiality of acknowledging the environment as a legal object instead of a mere legal subject. It uses already existing legal basis to build a theory on how to secure peace, protect commons and the fauna and flora in the event of the environment being granted legal personhood while taking into account potential threats to states sovereignty. Ultimately, she concludes that although legal systems could be used to ensure a better protection for some components of the environment, education remains the key to achieve and maintain sustainable development.

Judith Creppy is a third-year student at University Paris II Panthéon-Assas in Paris where she’s completing a bachelor in private law and serving as Vice-President in charge of ELSA (the European Law Students Association) Moot Court Competitions to encourage her fellow students to explore the miscellaneous aspects of international public and private law through mock trials. She intends on pursuing a masters in trade law as well as a Certificate of General International Studies as she would like to delve into international financial and fiscal law.

Read here the essay

Rebeca Spuch’s essay seeks to explore the intersection between education and other Sustainable Development Goals, in order to show the importance of strengthening the right to education to form a society compromised with the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Her essay starts from an historical analysis of the development of education, passing through the movements that have led to a public and accessible education, its increasing use by the States as a form of social control, up until its affirmation as an International Human Right.

Rebeca then addresses how education interrelates with other Sustainable Development Goals, especially in fighting poverty, achieving gender equality and the inclusion of people with disabilities and creating environmental awareness. Lastly, her essay points out the role of the International Lawyer as an educator himself, since it has the power to make International Human Rights Law more accessible to those who need it the most.

Rebeca is a Bachelor Student of Law in the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUCSP) and works as an intern in the Public Law and Compliance team of Castro Barros Advogados. She has also taken the ‘International Law and International Humanitarian Law’ summer course in the University of Geneva.

Read here the essay


In 2015, 193 UN Member States agreed on a Sustainable Development Agenda document titled “Transformation of our world – 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The 2030 SDG Agenda consists of an ambitious set of 17 goals and 169 targets, and stresses that these are much broader than environmental protection and should be ‘implemented in a manner which is consistent with the rights and obligations of States under international law’. Access to justice and the rule of law are recognised through the 2030 Agenda as enablers of sustainable development. These are mentioned explicitly in SDG16 and embedded implicitly in other goals and targets through references to equality, inclusion and equity, rights, legal frameworks.

Useful links:


Terms & conditions

  1. Description: The Best International Future Lawyer Award (the “Award”) is granted by AIJA for the best written essay (the “Essay”) submitted on a given topic each year. The competition is free to enter.
  2. Eligible candidates: Law students aged 45 and under who are still enrolled at any university worldwide at the time the Paper is submitted (“Eligible Candidates”). Eligible Candidates may be pursuing law studies at any level - including graduate or postgraduate studies - to the extent that they are not yet admitted to practice and/or licensed in their jurisdiction. AIJA membership is not a requirement to submit. Eligible Candidates may only submit one individual or joint Essay per year. Previous winners of this or any other AIJA award or scholarship are also excluded from the Competition. All other Eligible Candidates from previous years may apply again.
  3. Submission Format: an electronic application submitted through the website form. Joint papers are eligible, but all authors must be Eligible Candidates at the time of submission.
  4. Deadline: Essays are due by 2 June (midnight CET). AIJA will start accepting Essays as of 7 February. Submission deadlines will be strictly observed; late Essays will not be accepted.
  5. Essay requirements:
    1. The paper may be the outcome of an Eligible Candidate’s assignment at University or the full or revised version of the Eligible Candidate’s graduate thesis. It must follow the topic published by AIJA that year.
    2. It must be written in English.
    3. The text must be double-spaced, with twelve-point Times New Roman font and one-inch margins, in A4 paper-size.
    4. Between 10 and 15 pages, including footnotes.
    5. It must be divided into; (I) Executive Summary; (II) The Question(s) Presented section; (III) the Statement of the Facts / Statement of the Case section; (IV) the Argument section and (V) Conclusion.
    6. Anonymous. Essays need to be anonymous. Identifying information will be part of the submission form. Essays must not identify the university name or location. AIJA may disqualify any Essay that includes such identifying information.
  6. Evaluation:
    1. Anonymisation: AIJA will allocate a secret associative code to each set of Entry Form and Essay. Each Essay will be then detached from its Entry Form and only the former will be provided to the Evaluators, to make sure neither the Eligible Candidate’s identity nor his University are known by any of the Evaluators. Once the Award is granted to the winning Essay, AIJA will re-attach it to its Entry Form by using the secret associative code to know the Winner.
    2. Evaluators: The evaluation will be done by a panel of selected judges chosen by the Membership Forum of AIJA. There will be an evaluation panel consisting of an uneven number (at least three) of Evaluators. The Evaluators will read the anonymised Essays and will select one as the winner by majority of votes (the “Winner”).
    3. Evaluation Criteria: Essays will be evaluated on quality of research and analysis and novelty, profundity and overall contribution of the Essay to legal knowledge. Bearing in mind that part or most of the Eligible Candidates may not be native English speakers, Evaluators will nonetheless take into consideration the Essay’s grammar, spelling, usage and syntax, clarity, structure, and overall appearance. Eligible Candidates shall have no claim to be awarded the Award, even if all prerequisites are met. The decisions made by the Evaluators cannot be appealed against.
  7. Prize: The Winner will be honoured with:
    1. Free AIJA membership for the three years following the award ceremony.
    2. Publication of the Winner’s name and Essay’s title on AIJA’s communication channels (website, newsletter, social media etc.).
    3. Invitation to that year’s AIJA Annual Congress, where the Winner (i) might be required to present a summary of the Essay at the relevant Commission’s meeting and/or working session; and (ii) will be granted an Award certificate during the Congress. The Winner will be exempted from paying registration fees. In addition, AIJA will pay for economy travelling expenses and accommodation. The Winner will also receive a specific badge.
  8. Further Recognition/Awards: AIJA and the Evaluators reserve the right, depending on the quality, quantity, geographic spread of the applications, to recognize and/or award further authors of Essays, with a prize of its choice. Eligible Candidates shall have no claim to receive such recognition/award. The decisions made by the Evaluators cannot be appealed against.
  9. Co-Authorship: When the winning Essay is a co-authored paper, the prizes described in (a) and (c) above will have to be divided between the co-authors, either in the way jointly indicated by them or in the way decided by AIJA if the former are unable to reach an agreement on how to divide the prizes.
  10. Copyright: AIJA shall be fully entitled to publish, both in hard copy and electronically, the winning Essay in any AIJA’s publication in any format or language. The Winner will be fully accredited as author.

Application form

Registrations open on February 7th and close on June 2nd, 2019.

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