What is your area of research? How long have you been working in this field? How long have you been lecturing at PPCU?
Broadly speaking, my areas of research are public international law and European law. I started teaching at PPCU in 2010 and I am in charge of all the subjects related to them. Besides the solid foundation that the knowledge of public international law and European law mean nowadays, I am proud to say that we provide a variety of specialized subjects as well like law of international organizations, law of diplomatic and consular rights, UN model seminar, analysis of relevant conflicts and other horizontal issues of public international law etc.
As a researcher, I am particularly interested in the international law of the sea, maritime piracy and those issues creating a special situation concerning jurisdiction, but I am also interested in the work of international courts and tribunals and the way public international law tries to keep pace with technology (especially AI).
Have you got any recent teaching experience at foreign universities and with the students of these universities?
I belong to a generation that learnt languages and had more advanced language exams but didn’t have many opportunities to study abroad, we didn’t have many scholarships and the development of technology, that can facilitate these issues, was light years from now. This is especially true in the field of law that has always meant a more closed and disciplined structure and training. By now, we have more opportunities, I also teach abroad and have common projects with foreign colleagues, go regularly to conferences etc. I am lucky that I had a chance to give lectures and to present papers not only across Europe but also in Latin America and New York and to work together, currently as well, with great foreign lecturers and researchers.
At the Institute, we receive foreign lecturers regularly from all over the world and we also teach foreign students from all over the world at PPCU but we are also very active in working in dual degree programmes.
For this very reason, as the Erasmus coordinator of our Institute, I find it very important that we help students to spend at least a semester abroad and to have foreign lecturers here since they give us a different perspective on these subjects and life in general that can be very refreshing and they can inspire our students.
Your lectures here, at PPCU, are very popular with foreign students. To what reasons do you attribute this?
I wonder if they are popular, I really can’t judge that. On the one hand, these subjects (public international law and European law) are very difficult, especially when you are not a law student because you should take off your glasses through which you have looked at the world and wear new ones that aren’t always rose-coloured. I must also mention that law requires the students learning a special terminology, so it is not easy for them.
The way in which they study in general must change when it comes to legal subjects. You must understand what you read or hear but also be precise and learn it properly because in case of a definition, every word can have a meaning and their order or position in the definition has an aim and it is intentional. Therefore, law is not the area where you summarize broadly what you read, it requires a lot of effort and concentration.
On the other hand, there are many interesting topics and you will never read news in the same way you did before. It is like giving someone a candle in the dark, you start to see what’s going on around you and with the different subject my colleagues teach in the end it will be light and students see why things happen in a particular way.
As for the lectures, I prefer the dialogue and interactive style, so I try to ask a lot and I like when they also ask, so we can discuss. I try to do my best to create an atmosphere where students dare to ask or express their opinion. I think respect and honesty we give to one another are the key.
What do you like about teaching foreign students?
Everything. Now I have a group of students from all over the world, literally. Different traditions, different cultures and different legal systems. It is wonderful to see how these differences can turn out to be beneficial just like in case of the International Court of Justice. Difference can be a blessing and can strengthen us and it is especially useful when you teach public international law because it models real life. If we think about how the UN Assembly operates, we can model that since we have representatives of so many states with different views on life and international relations and sometimes we talk about students whose states are currently in a conflict with each other. Therefore, it is not only the topic but also the style how you and your students deal with these delicate issues. It is our job to analyse a case objectively, we cannot avoid that and in my experience, students are eager to learn how the international community regards their country and they would also like to get answers and express their opinion on topics affecting their country.
I think this is exactly the essence of my work and the coordinating function of public international law prevails during these lectures.
Do you ever give your Hungarian students advice on where to spend their Erasmus scholarship? What aspects do you take into consideration when you do so?
Yes, it belongs to my tasks both as a lecturer and, especially, as an Erasmus coordinator. We have many great partner universities, so students have a variety to choose. Obviously, you can give some general advice based on the experience of other students or our own experience, but the most important is to customize the opportunity in order that students could find the best university that fits their needs. However, I must mention that our students are well informed and they already have their plans in my mind, so my task is usually to have a chat individually with them about subjects they would choose and to help them to find an additional support and check their legal documents.