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Public International Law and Policy Program

SIS/WCL Collaboration

American University's Public International Law and Policy Program (PILPP) is offered through the School of International Service's and Washington College of Law JD/MA program. In cooperation with Professor Paul Williams and the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), students have the opportunity to complete practical and substantive work on issues of international law and policy. Students collaborate with some of the top professionals in the field, including AU alumni, State Department officials, international diplomats, and foreign government officials.

Real-World Clients

"In my one-and-a-half years working with the Public International Law and Policy Program, I've been able to have a real impact on issues that many practitioners spend their whole lives waiting to work on," says Nathan Kirschner, a WCL Alumnus and SIS MA candidate. Over the past years, American University students have worked on over a dozen negotiations and advised fifteen governments. Clients have included Somalia, Montenegro, Armenia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Estonia, East Timor, Bosnia, and Macedonia. A partial list of clients can also be found here.

Drafter's Handbook

As part of its more general work to produce resources for practitioners, the Program is preparing a web-based Drafters' Handbook for lawyers writing peace agreements. This handbook address various thematic issues encountered by international lawyers working at the bargaining table. Various handbooks address financial issues, such as economic restructuring and World Bank trust funds; political issues, such as elections and autonomous arrangements; transitional administrations; and democratization, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). The drafter's handbook can be accessed by clicking here.

Negotiation Simulation Exercises

Additionally, student participants have helped create a series of Negotiation Simulation Exercises which offer training to potential negotiators on various conflicts around the world. Student PILPP participants have helped and led in the process of creating these exercises, often in tandem with actual client work. PILPG has published simulations on conflicts including Indonesia/Aceh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq Constitutional Negotiations, Kashmir, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. More simulations will be published and posted in the future. The Negotiation Simulation Exercises can be accessed by clicking here.


Members of the Public International Law and Policy Program also have the opportunity to help in the production of regular PILPG e-publications, including Balkan Watch, released bi-weekly, and Peace Negotiations Watch, released every week. To subscribe to these publications, send an e-mail to with your name, e-mail address, and the name of the e-publication you are interested in.

Program for Talented Students

"I think that this program is a huge attraction for talented students who want to be able to combine academic and practical work on international law. I don't know of any other program that allows this to such a degree," says Laura Flyer, a second-year WCL student. She has worked with PILPP on preparations for negotiations on the final status of Kosovo. Another of her teammates, Christine Parsadaian, a second-year JD/MA student, says, "The fact that we, as students, are able to work on such complex and significant issues is incredible." Participants will find that a lot of writing will be necessary.

PILPP students agree that the program provides an innovative learning experience, combining some of the weightiest issues in international law with the academic experience. Karna Eklund, a team leader on Iraq and a JD/MA student, says, "The amount of responsibility and breadth of issues that we deal with is unmatched in my academic or professional experience."


WCL and SIS graduate students are eligible to participate in the application process to join the program. Students wishing to apply may submit an application during the previous semester. Applicants must possess strong writing skills. Most PILPP students are in the joint-degree JD/MA program or are second year MA students. Previous participants also include LLM and PhD students. JD students must be entering at least their second year of studies in order to apply.


Students participating in PILPP will work closely with clients. Approximately ten Senior Research Assistants and Peace Fellows will serve as leaders within the program. These experienced WCL and SIS students will faciliate connections among their working groups, PILPG member consultants, and clients. Fellows and team leaders will lead each group, serving a particular client. New members in PILPP will work within the working groups. Possibilities for promotion are available to experienced students.


For further information, please contact Professor Paul R. Williams at Also visit the Public International Law & Policy Group website.