International Court of Justice


“International Court of Justice”
Rashid Gabdulhakov
(Assistant Prof., University of Groningen)
Oil on canvas. January 2018
 (In private collection in the Hague)

by Natalia Zakharchenko

Mumbling something under his breath, Rashid, as usual, was enthusiastically painting another masterpiece, blanketing himself and our floor with numerous colorful art supplies. His inspirations were spontaneous but vivid – from the loved and hated post-Soviet architecture of Central Asian cities to the works of the greatest artists. This time, passing by his next chefs-d’oeuvre, I glanced briefly and froze in shock. The sketch, not even a painting yet, was already very recognizable to me: a familiar building, every curve and window of which I would voraciously memorize in my public international law courses back in Kyrgyzstan. No, it was not homework, it was a pure religion I was eager to convert to in spite of being geographically and normatively distanced from. The International Court of Justice. I took Rashid on court hopping (like bar hopping, but for lawyers) in The Hague in the first month we arrived in the Netherlands in 2017.

  • Why the ICJ?

He turned to me surprised with the question, but immediately returned to his do-not-bother hobby.

  • I don’t know. It is an epic building, isn’t it?

It is, I thought. I returned to my room, thinking whether it was my bigotry or the power of the concrete structure, that caused a non-believer (read: a political scientist) to paint the international court.  I checked my inbox – no news on my application for the Law and Politics of International Security programme yet.

Natalia Zakharchenko is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early-Stage Researcher and PhD Candidate at the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE) in Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and visiting researcher at VU Amsterdam.

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