Moving with Confidence into the Third Year…

The 2018-2019 MTJ Class The 2018-2019 MTJ Class

An update by the Co-Directors of our Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Frank Haldemann and Thomas Unger on the programme and 2018 class.

As in previous years, we are delighted to give you an update on the Geneva Academy’s Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

We are almost in the middle of the third academic year, a good time to reflect on the first semester that comes to an end, highlight novelties introduced in the programme, and plans for the next academic year!

But let’s start with our students, as the programme wouldn’t be what it is without them. This year, 27 highly qualified and open-minded individuals, with various professional backgrounds and experiences often linked to legacies of war or authoritarianism, attend our programme. They come from more than 20 different countries, including Brazil, Peru, Canada, the United States, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Kosovo, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, Iran, Syria, South Korea and Vietnam.

As in previous years, we are amazed by the richness of our student body and how this diversity enriches exchanges and discussions in class. This year, the group very quickly consolidated into a community based on mutual respect, generosity and commitment – values that we think are central to the programme. If you’re interested in learning more about this group and have insights into their work, classes and activities, you can follow them on Twitter as they have their own account!

What about novelties? In this third year, we took the decision to further develop and refine the programme as we are convinced that being experimental and innovative, by constantly integrating lessons learned from previous years, is essential to make this MAS a unique, intellectually enriching and practically relevant learning experience. With this in mind, we introduced two major changes.

First, we launched the so-called ‘three-tracks system’. This new feature, which further diversifies and personalizes the programme, allows our students to follow a specific track during the Spring Semester to either deepen knowledge on cutting-edge transitional issues with experienced practitioners, get exposure to practical work via research internships with leading institutions, or strengthen academic and research skills and develop one’s own research project.

The second novelty concerns the Spring School. For the 2019 edition, we decided to focus, via a more practice-oriented approach, on truth commissions, their aims, functions and practical challenges. Under the guidance of Howard Varney, a leading expert on truth commissions and Senior Programme Advisor at the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), our students will work on a hypothetical case scenario and will simulate roles in the advisory and drafting processes leading to the establishment of this key transitional justice mechanism.

Besides these two major changes, we also introduced two new mandatory courses that address key and often neglected transitional justice issues. Professor Brandon Hamber from Ulster University is giving a course on truth, reconciliation and mental health, drawing on his extensive personal experiences notably in Northern Ireland and South Africa. Dr Sarah Nouwen, Co-Deputy Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge, is teaching a course on justice and peace-making which addresses transitional justice issues in the context of peace negotiations in civil wars.

Now on next year: the planning for the fourth year of the MAS is already in full swing. We are currently receiving applications for the 2018–2019 academic year and look forward to receiving strong applications from candidates with a genuine interest in deeply engaging with transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law issues. As in previous years, we have a limited number of scholarships that allow outstanding students from non-western countries to study at the Geneva Academy.

As Co-Directors of this master’s programme, there is no such thing for us as routine. Every year – from the time we review applications and reflect on the programme, to actual classes and exchanges with our students and faculty – is different, enriching and, at times, challenging. Our greatest pride is to see, at the end of every academic year, our students moving into professional life, working in the field, carrying out research and, ultimately, making their own contribution to a hopefully better world.

We wish you all a very happy festive season and look forward to what will be an exciting second semester!

Yours sincerely,

Frank Haldemann and Thomas Unger
Co-Directors of the Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

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