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Call for Applications: 2021 Peter Nygh Hague Conference Internship

Published 23 Sep 2020


2021 applications for a 6-month internship at The Hague, Netherlands are now open for Australian law school graduates

2020 Nygh intern Nicole Sims at the Hague Conference


Awarded annually, the Nygh internship offers a postgraduate student or graduate of an Australian law school the exciting opportunity to undertake a 6 month internship at The Hague, Netherlands in the area of Private International Law. Successful applicants receive a contribution towards living expenses for the duration of the internship and travel costs to the Netherlands. COVID-19 restrictions permitting, we hope to send an intern to the Hague in 2021. Applications for the 2021 Nygh Internship close on 30 October 2020.

The preferred starting date for the successful 2021 Nygh Intern will be early 2021.  However, the starting date and indeed whether the internship can be undertaken in 2021 is likely to be affected by travel restrictions including border closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Internship Board and the Hague Conference are prepared to be flexible for the right candidate.  The award is for a lump sum amount and the successful candidate will need to accept the risks and increased costs of travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic including limited and more expensive flights (in particular into and out of Australia), government restrictions on travel and quarantine regimes for travellers.

Any familiarity or interest in family law, in particular the HCCH 1993 Adoption Convention and the Parentage/Surrogacy Project, would be an advantage for the 2021 intern given the Hague Conference’s proposed workplan for 2021.

Prospective applicants should visit for selection criteria and instructions on how to apply, or email Nicola Nygh at for further information. Applications for the 2021 Nygh Internship close on 30 October 2020.

The Hague Conference is a global intergovernmental organisation with over 80 members (including the European Union) representing all major regions and legal systems. It addresses the challenges arising from differences in law between jurisdictions by developing and implementing global legal conventions.  Coordinated by a multinational Secretariat – the Permanent Bureau – in both English and French, the Conference develops interstate consensus across a range of legal fields to provide legal certainty for individuals and businesses engaged in cross-jurisdictional activities.

So far Nygh interns have worked on projects in fields including family law, evidence and access to justice; cross border flow of personal data; migration; civil liability for trans-boundary harm and commercial dispute resolution. For many interns, the opportunity to observe the negotiation of an international convention first hand has been a highlight of their internship, all whilst living and working in The Hague, home to many of the world’s leading international law institutions.

The 2019 Nygh internship was scheduled so the intern, Sophie Yates, could help prepare for, and attend, the diplomatic session at which the Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters was adopted.  This represented the culmination of the Judgments Project, on which the late Hon Dr Peter Nygh worked for many years, and on which many of the Nygh interns have subsequently worked.

Through his internship, the 2015 Nygh intern, Derek Bayley, experienced “an unparalleled, first-hand insight of how an intergovernmental body works to foster and achieve international cooperation amongst legal systems,” and developed new networks in the international community. The internship has also provided an invaluable avenue for past interns to develop careers in private international law. In 2011 the inaugural Nygh intern, Zoë Justice, was awarded a Hugo Grotius Fellowship to undertake a Masters in Law at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, specialising in private international law. The 2013 Nygh intern, Brooke Marshall, has recently completed a doctoral thesis in private international law at the University of Hamburg.

The Peter Nygh Hague Conference Internship is an award in memory of the late Hon Dr Peter Nygh AM, a leading international lawyer and former judge of the Family Court of Australia. Dr Nygh was also an Australian delegate to, and a rapporteur of The Hague Conference. In 2002, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in part “for service to international law, particularly through honorary assistance to The Hague Conference.”

Dr Nygh’s family donated funds to establish the Peter Nygh Hague Conference Internship. An additional $50,000 was donated by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, and Resolve Litigation Lawyers generously supports the administration of the award. Further donations are being sought to support this initiative. All donations are tax deductible.

Background information

The Australian Institute of International Affairs was established in 1933 as an independent non-political body to promote an interest in, and understanding of, international affairs. The AIIA operates nationwide with 1,300 members across seven State and Territory branches. The AIIA provides a forum for discussion,  and educates and disseminates ideas via its journal, The Australian Journal of International Affairs, and book series, including Australia in World Affairs. The former Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) is the AIIA’s Honorary Visitor and Patron.

The Australian Branch of the International Law Association ( promotes:

  • the study, elucidation and advancement of international law, public and private;
  • the making of proposals for the solution of conflicts of law and for the unification of law;
  • the study of comparative law; and
  • the unification of law.

The International Law Association has over 50 branches worldwide and a growing membership of academics and practising professionals with an interest in international law. Membership is available to all persons interested in international law. The Hon Dr Peter Nygh AM was a past president of ILA (AB) and was also active in the international organisation of the ILA. While president of the ILA (AB) he promoted co-operation between the ILA (AB) and the AIIA.

Further enquiries can be directed to the Australian Institute of International Affairs by email at