April 3rd, 2024

From Castries to Geneva: The Experience of a 2023 IALL Conference Bursary Awardee

By: Dwaymian Brissette, Law Librarian
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
IALL bursary recipient 2023


My name is Dwaymian Brissette, and I am the Law Librarian/Information Services, Library Services, & Communications Manager at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). The ECSC is a model Regional Court that serves six (6) Independent Member States and three (3) British Overseas Territories. The Court’s Headquarters is in Castries, the capital of its host country, Saint Lucia.

The quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” perfectly describes my journey from Castries, Saint Lucia, to Geneva, Switzerland, where I attended the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) 41st Annual Course.

It took me over two days and over 4,000 miles to reach my destination, but every mile travelled was worth it, as the days spent in Geneva were enriching and beneficial. I fully immersed myself in the rich curriculum and interacted with other participants attending IALL 2023. The International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) held its 41st Annual Course in Geneva under the theme “Like Clockwork? Multilateralism and International Law.” The theme was aptly chosen as it resonated with the city of Geneva, known for its punctuality and precision. The course provided an excellent platform for Law Librarians and other stakeholders in the legal industry to collaborate, share their experiences and learn from each other.

IALL 2023 was a well-organised course that brought together legal information professionals from across the globe. The speakers were experienced and knowledgeable and shared their insights on various topics related to international law and legal research best practices. The sessions were structured to provide scholarly and practical knowledge, making it a valuable experience for me and the other participants. I was particularly moved by the Pre-conference Workshop on Digitisation, the session on The New Roles of the World Trade Organization after the Pandemic Crisis, and the presentation on International Law-making at the United Nations – Seeking the Balance between the Codification and Progressive Development of International Law. These sessions provided me with key insights that proved instrumental to a project I spearheaded at the ECSC. I was also most grateful for the opportunity to engage with the presenters immediately after the sessions and exchange contact information, as their presentations left a lasting impact on me.

The discussions held in the other sessions of IALL 2023 were equally refreshing. All the participants left the Conference armed with renewed conviction in our abilities and a drive to implement the knowledge shared in our respective organisations. We were confident that we could positively impact our organisations and broader communities by applying what we had learned during the four-day Conference.

During the IALL 2023 annual course in Geneva, we were able to attend academic sessions and participate in several social events, which were carefully chosen to provide a memorable experience. These events were held in different locations across the city, and they all had one thing in common – breathtaking views of Geneva’s landmarks. The opening cocktail was an excellent opportunity to network and learn more about our host city.

Kerem Kahvecioglu, Vice President of IALL, shared a light moment with Conference participants at the Opening Reception.

It was a perfect start to the course as we mingled with the other participants while enjoying the beautiful scenery. One of the highlights of the evening was the address given by Pierre-Etienne Bourneuf, the Scientific Advisor of the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva. He spoke passionately about Multilateralism and the Spirit of Geneva, and his speech was engaging and informative. He delivered his message in an entertaining and educational way, making the evening and the event that much more memorable for us all.

Throughout the course, there were several receptions that facilitated interaction in a relaxed environment. However, the most anticipated event was the Annual Dinner. This event allowed us to ‘dress up’ and enjoy a sumptuous meal in a more formal setting while still having light conversations with each other. I was delighted to have the privilege of dining with our beloved President, Dr. Mark Engsberg, and other distinguished participants. We learned so much from each other and shared a few laughs that evening.

Dr. President Mark Engsberg, IALL President, and other distinguished participants at the IALL Annual Dinner.

The local organizing committee’s decision to add an optional day trip to the schedule was a wise one. We had the opportunity to visit Lausanne, the world’s Olympic capital, and it turned out to be a great experience. The weather was beautiful, and the scenery was breathtaking. Some of us decided to take a walking tour, which allowed us to explore the city like locals. It was lovely to experience the warm hospitality of the locals.

We also visited the Court of Arbitration for Sports and the Olympic Museum, which were very interesting. The museum was particularly educational. We learned a lot about how law, sports, and marketing intersect to produce the beautiful games of the modern Olympics. The other participants and I took beautiful photographs with the city as the backdrop, which we will cherish forever.

After a long day of learning, walking, and touring, we returned to Geneva feeling fulfilled and enriched. It was time to say our goodbyes, and we were grateful for the opportunity to attend IALL 2023. The trip to Lausanne was the perfect way to end the annual course, and we hope that future courses will embrace such enriching experiences.

Overall, the IALL 2023 annual course was an unforgettable experience which exceeded all my expectations. Everything was meticulously planned, from the academic sessions to the social events, to ensure the participants had a memorable experience. Participants left the event with new knowledge and the confidence to make a positive impact in their respective countries upon return.

Ms. Vanessa Blackmore, Chair of the IALL Scholarship Committee (in front) and IALL 2023 Conference Bursary Awardees

I am deeply grateful to the IALL Scholarship Committee for their unwavering commitment to providing bursaries that allow Law Librarians to attend the prestigious annual course. The scholarship committee’s assessment and selection of my application, along with my colleagues, enabled us to forge professional bonds that will last a lifetime. The local organizing committee’s warm hospitality made Geneva feel like home, and their generosity was unforgettable.

To all my fellow Law Librarians, I encourage you to join the IALL and take full advantage of its numerous benefits. Don’t hesitate to apply for one of the IALL 42nd Annual Course conference bursaries and experience the magic of Oslo from the 16th to the 20th of June 2024. It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge and network while experiencing a beautiful city that will no doubt leave a lasting impression on you.

This Blog contains entries by members of the International Association of Law Libraries on issues germane to the Association’s areas of focus. Views expressed in an individual entry only represent the views of the author, and not those of the International Association of Law Libraries or the author’s employer.