Farewell Janne E. Nijman: ‘I will dearly miss the Institute and all with whom I collaborated so well throughout the years’Published 28 June 2022
This Thursday, Janne E. Nijman will step down as chairperson of the executive board and academic director of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut. Under her leadership, the Asser Institute was successfully repositioned as an internationally recognised research institute for international and European law. After a research leave to be spent in part in Cambridge (UK), Nijman will resume her academic research as professor of History and Theory of International Law at the University of Amsterdam, and move to a halftime position as Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (IHEID).
When she joined the board in 2015, Janne Nijman’s central objective for the Asser Institute was to become an academic research institute that would contribute to the development of international and European law by conducting outstanding fundamental research. Other objectives were to secure more funding for fundamental and applied research, to enhance the Institute’s national and international visibility and to secure the Institute’s future.
‘Firmly positioned for the future’
In 2021, an independent committee of experts assessed the Asser Institute's work during the period 2016-2020, which resulted in a highly positive evaluation. In its report, the committee, chaired by Prof. Barbara Oomen (Utrecht University), wrote: ‘[T]he Asser Institute has been more than successful at its ambitions in the combined fields of research and societal outreach, and is firmly positioned for a successful future. This is clearly the result of clear vision and a great deal of hard work of all involved.’
According to the committee, Nijman’s strategic vision of combining academic excellence with societal relevance has clearly been achieved. ‘The period under assessment (2016-2020) has showed a steady increase in top-tier academic publications, and the researchers of the Asser Institute have produced a significant number of excellent publications.’
‘High societal relevance’
The committee further rated the Asser Institute’s societal relevance as ‘very good’, and found that the Institute has been successful in obtaining funding for cutting-edge research projects: ‘As a result of successful acquisition, there are a large number of high-quality projects with great academic output as well as high societal relevance, which is immensely impressive for a medium-size research institute.’
The evaluation committee concluded that ‘[t]he Asser Institute is now an academic research institute on international and European law, that has the standing to compete with the best and largest departments on international and European law at law faculties in the Netherlands.’
Under Nijman’s leadership, the Asser Institute also joined forces with the Amsterdam Law School (University of Amsterdam), leading to the conclusion of a new cooperation agreement in 2020. The cooperation agreement enhances collaboration in research and postgraduate and professional education, and it secured the University of Amsterdam’s annual funding level for the next ten years.
Shaping a fairer, more just society
As academic director of the Asser Institute, Janne has always been acutely aware of the role of legal scholars in shaping a fairer, more just society. In 2021, Nijman led the development of the Asser Institute’s new strategic research agenda for 2022-2026, entitled: ‘Rethinking public interests in international and European law; pairing critical reflection with perspectives for action.’ The research agenda will put the ‘public interest’ at the core of the Institute’s research, education and public events.
Janne Nijman looks back on her years at the Asser Institute with great pleasure: “The Asser Institute is a truly unique place. I have worked with excellent and committed colleagues, as well as with many national and international partners. Together we have worked hard to transform the Institute into the inspiring and dynamic research institute it is today: a proud member of the UvA family. I will dearly miss the Institute and all with whom I collaborated so well throughout the years. At the same time, I look forward to being able to invest more time directly into research and teaching upon my return to the Amsterdam Law School”
After a research leave, which she will spend in part in Cambridge (UK), Janne Nijman will resume her academic research as professor of History and Theory of International Law at the University of Amsterdam, and she will spend more time in her role as professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva. Nijman will continue to serve in a number of non-executive board functions in the public sector.
With a farewell symposium on ‘The responsibility of the transnational lawyer and legal scholar’, the Asser Institute will honour Janne Nijman’s work.
Strategic research agenda (2022-2026): ‘Rethinking public interests in international and European law; pairing critical reflection with perspectives for action.’
The loss of public trust in international and European law and institutions, seems strongly related to the perception that norms and institutions are failing to serve public interests. Moreover, critical research into international and European public and private law and institutions has shown that our legal regimes and institutions are actually implicated in the global inequality, and in the imminent crash into our Earth’s planetary boundaries.
This is not for want of appeals made to public interests by these institutions, nor even for want of best intentions. But the presuppositions behind these public interest arguments and their effects in action, are not yet well-understood. We can see, though, that they often form a stark contrast with what the public expects: that international institutions and regimes play a role in tackling our crises. Read more.