Welcome to the Invisible College

Welcome to the Invisible College Blog. Until the end of 2017, this was the official blog of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research.


About the Invisible College Blog 


Until the end of 2017, the Invisible College Blog was the continuation of its successful predecessor carrying the same name (see here for more about the ‘pre-school days’ of the blog). The aim of the renewed blog was to attempt to offer an even more comprehensive, yet pluriform and diverse collection of posts  along the spectrum of research activities conducted within the School of Human Rights Research. These areas of interest comprise various disciplines such as, but not limited to, human rights law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international economic law and development cooperation, international relations and philosophical approaches to any of these disciplines.

The main idea was not to directly represent the School of Human Rights Research, but more to create an online forum which provides (former) members of the School, and likeminded spirits, the opportunity to report, share and exchange thoughts on current developments through open dialogue.

The aim was to be informative, but also to stimulate debate on these topics. For this purpose, we regularly invited guest bloggers to share their expertise and views on particular issues, and invited the reader to participate in a meaningful way in the discussion!


About the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research


The School of Human Rights Research aims at promoting disciplinary and multidisciplinary scientific research in the field of human rights. By means of critical analysis and the submission of proposals, based on thorough scientific research, the School wants to contribute to the further implementation and strengthening of international, regional and national systems of protection of human rights.

The School is an inter-university alliance of universities and research institutes – a joint effort of the School of Law and the Faculty of the Humanities of Utrecht University, and the Faculties of Law of Maastricht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Tilburg University and Leiden University. The T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague, also participates in the Research School. The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) of the Faculty of Law at Utrecht University is entrusted with the administration of the School and hosts the secretariat and management of the School.

The School aims to unite researchers in the field of human rights and provides a joint training programme for Ph.D. researchers who are employed at the universities participating in the School. Various disciplines are represented within the Research School: Law (including several sub-disciplines), Political Science, History, Philosophy, and Cultural Anthropology.

The School of Human Rights Research was officially recognised by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 1995 and re-accredited in 2000 and 2005.

“Pre-school days” of the Invisible College


Before becoming the official blog of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research, the Invisible College Blog was the result of the joining of forces of two earlier weblogs:

Despite the somewhat similar backgrounds of the contributors – rather recent University graduates with an interest in things international – , both blogs probably differed somewhat in their approaches: The Core focused rather tightly on those areas of international law which directly affect individuals (i.e. human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law) and mostly contained rather "lawyerly" posts, while 1948 took a much broader approach, focusing on international law, politics, economics, and philosophy and featuring somewhat more essayistic posts.

Why did we call the blog ‘Invisible College’?

By joining forces, we aimed to combine the strengths of both blogs and offer our readers a variety of insights and commentaries on new developments in the international arena. We also hoped that the blog could become more than just a site for comments and analyses: The blog’s title refers to a 1977 article by Oscar Schachter ("The Invisible College of International Lawyers", 72 Northwestern University Law Review (1977) 217-226), in which he speaks of the "professional community of international lawyers" forming an "invisible college dedicated to a common intellectual enterprise". While Schachter mostly concerns himself with international lawyers who are government officials and/or career academics, it seems that the "invisible college" he speaks of has grown substantially in the 30 years since then; it now includes undergraduate and graduate students, interns with various international organisations, University researchers, attorneys working in international practice areas, NGO lawyers and many more.

Objectives of the blog

We thus intended the blog to become not only an interesting read, but an actual community resource for this diverse group. We thus published not only commentaries on international developments, but also posts on Master and Doctoral programs, summer schools, job opportunities in the field, web resources for scientific research, etc. etc. We also hoped to engage our readers and to enable them to actively contribute to a dialogue on such questions.