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PhD positions Public International Law (2,0 fte)

Both positions concern PhD research regarding the interpretation of customary international law.

The first PhD position will focus on the theory of interpretation, with a special emphasis on interpretation of customary international law. In this context, the PhD researcher wil

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Broerstraat, Groningen, Groningen
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
€ 2840 - € 2840 per maand


Both positions concern PhD research regarding the interpretation of customary international law.

The first PhD position will focus on the theory of interpretation, with a special emphasis on interpretation of customary international law. In this context, the PhD researcher will also participate in and co-ordinate teams from a number of countries doing research as to what domestic theories of interpretation of customary law exist, and how domestic courts have interpreted both domestic and international customary law.

The second PhD position will focus on how international courts, tribunals and other quasi-judicial bodies have interpreted customary international law throughout the ages, what rules can be induced from their jurisprudence and what is the exact content of those interpretative rules.

The researchers are expected to successfully undertake research on the project, publish and edit books and articles, attend, present in, and organize conferences and workshops and undertake teaching activities related to the ERC project. They will also be expected to participate actively in the Department of Transboundary Legal Studies, a lively legal multidisciplinary department that includes international law and legal theory.


- LLM (or being in the final phase of an LLM) with excellent marks in and knowledge of Public International Law
- interest in and affinity with legal scientific research (the first PhD should have demonstrable affinity with legal theory; the second with international dispute settlement and jurisprudence); a background in legal practice and/or publications in international law would be an advantage
- excellent knowledge of English (written and oral); working knowledge of French, German and/or other languages would be an advantage
- excellent communication and reporting skills, also in relation to non-legal scholars
- demonstrable competences: planning and organizing, conceptual capacity, presenting, monitoring, flexibility, independence, analytical skills.


The total duration of the PhD trajectory is four years (48 months). The candidate will initially be appointed for a probationary period of 18 months. After one year, a formal performance evaluation will take place. If the performance evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months.

Selected candidates will be ranked in the Dutch university employment system (UFO). The starting gross salary is € 2,222 per month (for a full-time appointment) and will raise every 12 months to a maximum of € 2,840 based on the PhD salary scale of the Collective Labour Agreement (cao) for Dutch Universities. Researchers from outside The Netherlands may qualify for a tax-free allowance equal to 30% of their taxable salary.

The PhD student will participate in the Faculty training programme for PhD students. The Groningen Graduate School of Law: https://www.rug.nl/research/gradschool-law/ (GGSL) organises the training programmes for PhD researchers and research master students in the Faculty of Law. The Faculty offers the opportunity to attend international conferences and to participate in workshops and seminars. The research project also has its own funds for travel and accommodation.


The starting date of the position is 1 May 2018, or as soon as possible thereafter. A project synopsis can be found here (https://www.rug.nl/news/2017/08/erc-grants-awarded-to-four-ug-scientists?lang=en) and analysis on one of its aspects can be found here (booksandjournals.brillonline.com/docserver/journals/18719732/19/1/18719732_019_01_s006_text.pdf?expires=1519726105&id=id&accname=id23019&checksum=D50C7FF57FE1BF6E5D5BB0E35EDE810E); for the full version contact Prof Panos Merkouris by email.

You may apply for this position until 29 March 23.59h / before 30 March 2018 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Your application must include:
- a motivation letter (indicating also if you are applying only for one of the PhD positions or for both)
- curriculum vitae
- a list of grades from your Master’s degree (and list of publications if applicable)
- the names and contact details of two referees, who will be contacted after the interview stage.

Promising candidates will be asked to provide a sample of writing and invited for an interview which will take place during the first two weeks of April 2018. It will also be possible to interview remotely.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

Prof. Panos Merkouris
+31 50 3638258,


Faculty of Law The Faculty of Law (https://www.rug.nl/rechten/) is building on a longstanding tradition of four centuries. Its mission is to be an ambitious top ranking faculty of law with both education and high-quality research (https://www.rug.nl/research/groningen-centre-for-law-and-governance/programmas/), with a strong international orientation, firmly rooted in the North of The Netherlands. The faculty creates and shares knowledge through outstanding education and high-quality research, benefitting to society. With more than 3400 students, the faculty is heavily involved in educating students, both Dutch and international. The faculty is a modern, broad and international institution, educating students to become forward-looking, articulate and independent lawyers. The Faculty’s LLM programme on Public International Law has been ranked by the Dutch LLM Guide (Keuzegids) for the last two academic years as the best LLM programme in Public International Law in The Netherlands.


The positions are part of the ERC project of Prof Panos Merkouris within the Department of Transboundary Legal Studies. This ERC project, led by Prof Panos Merkouris, revolves around the rules of interpretation of customary international law (CIL). CIL along with treaties are the sources most often used in international law. However, whereas the rules of interpretation of treaties have been enshrined in Articles 31-33 VCLT, the rules of interpretation of CIL have not been the subject of critical study.

The two PhD positions, each of which will be a four-year appointment, will focus on the theory of interpretation of customary international law, and the manner in which both international and domestic courts have approached it in their own jurisprudence.

The research is part of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project “The Rules of Interpretation of Customary International Law” (Acronym: TRICI-Law).