Symposium Committee

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    The Symposium Committee of 2016-2017 consists of:

    – Maurits de Munck: Symposium Commissioner

    Wyteke van den Dool

    Steven van den Heuvel

    Natasha Collins

    Nathan Meershoek

    The Lectures and Symposium Committee

    The Urios Lectures and Symposia Committee is in charge of organizing all the Symposia and Lectures for the academic year. These events are focused on interesting and pressing European and/or International law topics and are open to a broad public including law students, non-law students, academics, professionals, people from public institutions and NGO’s. If you have any suggestions for us (general ones, or based on your visit to past symposia or lectures), do not hesitate to send us an email at!


  • History

    2011/2012 (2): Human rights violations by multinationals

    The last symposium of the academic year 2011/2012 organised by Urios took place on 11 June 2012. Different committee members joined forces to make this symposium successful. These were: Sander van ‘t Foort, Pien Klieverik, Marthijn Leegsma, Sybren Straatsma, Laura van Vliet and Laura Wille. The symposium was held in the impressive Aulazaal of the Academiegebouw of the Utrecht University. The theme of the symposium was ‘human right violations by multinationals’.

    Our first speaker was dr. T. Lambooy (Utrecht University and Nyenrode University). She told us more about the legal framework of state liability and that of businesses. She was followed by, Ms. M. van Ruijven (Amnesty International). She will told us more about the access to justice and what citizens can do when it comes to human rights violations by multinationals. Our final speaker was mr. M. Peters (Member of Parliament). Ms. Peters gave an impressive speech, pleading for more transparency by businesses.

    After the first round, a discussion took place, whereby two experts joined the discussion. These were mr. L. Koster (chair of the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission) and mr. L. Veer (Ambassador for Human Rights at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs). During this session multiple questions were answered. The chair of the evening was dr. S. de Vries (Utrecht University).

    2011/2012 (1): Search engines & EU Law

    The edition of the first Urios Symposium of 2012 took place on Monday 20 February. The symposium – which was held in the impressive Senaatszaal of the Acadamy Building in Utrecht – dealt with issues concerning ‘search engines in relation to EU law’, with a main focus on Google since its dominant position on the market has recently been put out for discussion. The evening was organised by the Symposium Committeee 2011/2012 consisting of Sander van ‘t Foort, Pien Klieverik, Sybren Straatsma and Laura Wille and was based on a research report by Argenton & Prufer about search engines, their current market structure and innovation.

    We were very proud to welcome the following speakers:

    – Prof. mr. P. van Ginneken – Lawyer at Brinkhof Advocaten
    – Sebastiaan Heijdenrijk – master student at the UU; wrote athesis on the subject ‘the (possible) abuse of dominant position by the undertakings Google and Apple’
    – Dr. J. van Hoboken – PhD candidate at the IViR at the UvA; submitted a dissertation about search engines
    – Drs. Van Nistelrooij – Member of the European Parliament
    – P. Olsthoorn – Journalist and author of the book ‘The Power of Google’

    After the chairman P. Olsthoorn introduced all speakers, Dr. J. van Hoboken took the floor and told us about the role of search engines on the internet, Google and abuse of dominance and unfair rankings in relation to freedom of expression. Subsequently Van Nisterlrooij gave a passionate speech about the importance of internet giants – such as Google – and innovation for the market economy. Van Ginneken focused mainly on the difficulties of (the dominant position of) search engines in relation to competition law.

    Later on Sebastiaan Heijdenrijk has made a valuable addition to the debate. The discussion dealt with several topics such as whether the usage of page-ranking can be seen as discriminatory (since it puts some companies/websites in a more profitable position than others) and thus as an infringement of art. 102 TFEU, whether competition is only a free click away and whether – in order to prevent monopolization – it is only fair to pose a duty on search engines to be more transparent when it comes to their algorithms.

    2010/2011 (2): Protecting Civilians During the Arab Spring

    This edition of the biannual Urios Symposium took place on 20 juni 2011, 19:30-22:00, in the beautiful ‘Senaatszaal’ (Senate Hall) of the Academy Building in Utrecht. It was organised by the Symposium Committee 2010/2011 consisting of Ronelle Kok, Fien Kok, Koen de Weers and Sander van Hees. Their motivation for the choice of the topic was to reveal some of the issues surrounding the uproar in the Arab world which was taking place at that very same moment.

    What kind of action should be taken by the international community in order to protect civilians during the battle going on in countries like Libya, Syria and Jemen? Is there a responsibility on the international community to act? What national and political interests are at stake? What is the role of the United Nations? These questions and more have been dealt with from a legal, political and historical point of view.

    We were very happy to have the following speakers in our panel:
    – Kees Homan – International security expert at Clingendael Institute
    – Terry Gill – Professor of Military Law
    – Eric Myjer (Professor of Conflict and Security Law) was our Chairman.

    First, the Chairman provided the audience with an overview of the events occurred till that moment. He reminded the audience of how and where the struggles began and how the political reactions had been till then. He also gave a brief introduction to the international law aspects of the events. After that, Kees Homan took the floor. He spoke about the political and economical causes of the revolution in the Arab world. He mentioned the different political structures of the countries involved and the particular difficulties caused by ‘instable electoral democracies with parties along sectarian or tribal lines.’ After a short legal analysis of U.N. Resolution 1973 he continued by identifying the Arab demonstrators, Al Jazeera, democratic reformers elsewhere in the Middle East and the Egyptian military as the winners of the Arab revolutions. He considered the Mubarak family, Al Qaeda and The “Pax Americana” in the Middle East to be the losers in this respect. Particularly interesting was his analysis of the political reasons behind the reaction of the international community. Professor Gill subsequently explained the legal implications of U.N. Resolution 1973. He reminded the audience that the resolution only authorises Member States to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory. Regime change is not mentioned in the resolution. However, it seems that this is exactly what the participants to the international military operation in Libya were seeking to achieve. Furthermore, Professor Gill also went into the meaning of R2P (the Responsibility to Protect) and he briefly talked about the political reasons for the military actions in Libya.

    2010/2011 (1): Dutch vs. EU Migration Policy

    This edition of the biannual Urios Symposium took place on 7 March 2011, 18:45-22:00h in the beautiful Senaatszaal’ (Senate Hall) of the Academy Building in Utrecht. It was organised by the Symposium Committee 2010/2011 consisting of Ronelle Kok, Fien Kok, Koen de Weers and Sander van Hees. Their motivation for the choice of the topic was to provide for a clear picture on how the radical plans of the new Dutch government (as presented in the VVD-CDA coalition agreement of 30-9-2010) on migration policy relate to European law and policy.

    The questions that were dealt with included: ‘to what extent are the measures mentioned in the coalition agreement possible, considering European law and policy?’ and ‘what are the possible consequences of this new policy for migrants and others in the Netherlands?’

    We were very proud to have the following three distinguished speakers:
    – Prof. mr. K. Groenendijk – Head of the Centre for Migration Law of the University of Nijmegen;
    Chairman of the Meijers Committee
    – Mr. M. Reurs – Immigration lawyer at Everaert Advocaten; Chief Editor of the ‘Journaal Vreemdelingenrecht’
    – Mr. M. Wijnkoop – Legal Officer and Lobbyist for the Council for Refugees
    – Mr. A. Woltjer (Legal Officer at the Dutch Council of State) was our Chairman

    First, the Chairman provided the audience with an extensive overview of the European legislation in the field of Immigration Law. He stressed that the legislation had been adopted by all Member States and that it would need all Member States to change or abolish them again. Subsequently Professor Groenendijk took the floor and delivered a clear and passionate speech on the extreme difficulties which will rise in an effort to reconcile the new governmental plans, such as stricter income and housing requirements for immigrants, with the European migration rules. After the break Marcel Reurs expressed his worries on the new government plans from the perspective of a legal practitioner. He focused primarily on the problems which the possible criminalisation of illegality could bring about. Finally, Mirthe Wijnkoop shed a light on inter alia the working of the political processes in Brussels which the Netherlands will have to go through in order to pursue their plans. Mirthe Wijnkoop has special experience with Brussels politics due to her lobbying work for the Dutch Council for Refugees.

    2009/2010: Cybercrime: International and European harmonisation and cooperation in combating cybercrime.

    The 2010 symposium discussed the ways that cybercrime is combatted. Billions of people are using the Internet. This large number of users all over the world, makes it enormous difficult to control what happens on the Internet. Cybercriminals makes abuse of gullible and naïve people and gaps in company’s. What are effectives methods to control the Internet and combat cybercriminals? How can the different countries and communities work together? Subjects that can be discussed during the symposium are for example identity fraud, bank and credit card fraud, illegal downloading, illegal trade, terrorism, drugs trafficking and paedophilia.

    2008/2009: ‘European Energy Policy in the face of Climate Change’

    The day started off with a general introduction on the topic by professor Blok, a member of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also, Mr. Labohm, an independent publicist, explained his criticism on the current attitude towards climate change and his prospects for the Copenhagen conference. After this, the current legal framework on European energy- and climate policy was discussed, as were the expected changes after Copenhagen.

    We welcomed lecturers from the political and business sectors:
    – Mr. de Jong, senior fellow at the Clingendael International Energy Programme,
    – Mr. Breunesse, climate advisor at Shell, mr. Wissenburg, campaigner climate & energy at Greenpeace
    – Mr. von Meijenfeldt, deputy director-general environmental management at the Dutch ministry of VROM.

    2007/2008: ‘Terrorism vs. Privacy’

    The symposium dealt with the effects of UN and EU counter-terrorism measures on the right to privacy. Urios considered that the time was right to revisit this subject, on which it organized its symposium five years earlier, as many measures had been taken since (both the UN and the EU had adopted their own counter-terrorism strategies), sometimes propelled by actual terrorist attacks. But instead of dealing with a number of human rights at stake, the symposium focused on the right to privacy in particular, since far-reaching initiatives, such as the exchange of flight passenger data and the collection of biometrics, have increasingly impacted this right.

    2006/2007: International and Regional Responsibility to Protect Human Rights – Crisis in Darfur

    The symposium consisted of two parts. The first part of the symposium covered the question to what extent international and regional organisations have a responsibility to protect human rights in conflict situations. Moreover, the notion of humanitarian interventions in case of gross human rights violations were  addressed. The latter part focused on the crisis in Darfur and the role of the United Nations and the African Union. After every part there was time for questions and debate between the lecturers and the participants led by the chairperson. The chairperson of the symposium was Ms. Avril McDonald, Professor of International Law and research associate of the TMC Asser Institute for International Law, The Hague.

    Several lectures were given by experts with specific knowledge and experience in international law and the situation Sudan.

    – Prof. dr. Terry D. Gill, Professor , Associate Professor Public International Law, Utrecht University and Military Law, University of Amsterdam,
    – Prof. dr. Nigel D. White,Professor of International Law, University of Sheffield,
    – Dr. Jaïr. van der Lijn, Clingendael Institute, the Hague, CICAM, Radboud University of Nijmegen,
    – Prof. Jan Pronk, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Sudan,
    – Prof. Ademola Abass, Brunel University,United Kingdom, Former African Union Expert on Regional Mechanisms
    – Sarah M.H. Nouwen, LLM, MPhil, former Representative Netherlands Embassy Khartoum, PhD Candidate International Law, Cambridge