Florimont Poirier, a Canadian and French dual-national, joined the Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict in 2013, while working in Geneva at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations (UN). He completed the programme in 2015, graduating on 30 October pursuant to the defence of his thesis entitled ‘Rethinking the traditional paradigm of jus ad bellum in the context of cyber warfare’.
In 2014 Florimont moved back to Montreal, Canada, where he began working on his doctoral thesis in international humanitarian law (IHL) at McGill University, focusing more particularly his research on the humanization of this branch of law under the influence of new technologies. In 2016 he joined the Canadian Foreign Service, temporarily pausing his doctoral research, and will leave for his first posting in New Delhi, India, in July 2017.
Florimont also holds a Master of International and European Law from the University of Rouen, France, and a LLM of International Law and the Law of International Organizations from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands.
The Executive Master undoubtedly provided me with a much more accurate, sharper and critical understanding of human rights, IHL and transitional justice. It clearly contributed to bringing a much stronger focus and sense of specialization to my career, allowing me to delve more in depth into emerging legal issues, notably those at the crossroad of law and technology. The Executive Master importantly solidified the legal knowledge and critical sense that I eventually leveraged during the research and preparation of my doctoral thesis at McGill University, thereby representing an important stepping stone upon which I continued building my academic development.
Now as a Canadian diplomat, the Executive Master has provided me with a much greater expertise and a range of fantastic legal tools that help me better understand and analyse international issues impacting state’s decisions, such as those related to disaster responses, influx of refugees or fight against armed groups.
Each of the courses of the Executive Master presented different challenges and invited participants to rethink the way they approached legal issues in international law. That being said, I believe that the courses specifically focusing on human rights in armed conflicts and counter-terrorism, taught by Professor Noam Lubell, were amongst the most challenging ones. Professor Lubell consistently encouraged his students to challenge the status quo by raising innovative questions and reflecting on unresolved legal problematic, such as for instance the legal status and legal framework applicable to situations of transnational non-international armed conflicts and that of armed groups involved.
Although it was sometimes challenging to balance the requirements of the programme with those of my full time job, it was always a great pleasure for me to attend the lectures we had every week with world class experts, whose breadth of knowledge and approachability was unparalleled. I have fond memories of those evenings during which we were given the opportunity to interact with our teachers and debate at length on various legal issues. This created a strong sense of both community and collegiality, which I always very much enjoyed. We also had the chance to interact at length with our peers and teachers during the breaks, which always gave rise to animated and fascinating conversations, often reflecting on emerging issues in the world and debating how international law would apply to those.
Finally, I cannot avoid mentioning the fantastic environment that we benefited from at the Villa Moynier, attending lectures in the Cassese Room, facing the Leman Lake, while the sun sets over the distant Mont Blanc.
The nature of the programme, open to professionals, meant that a lot of people were sharing a common interest and working in somewhat related fields, yet all were having very different backgrounds, both personal and professional. Many of my friends and peers were working for the UN, permanent missions, specialized agencies or non-governmental organizations. This in turn provided everyone with fantastic networking opportunities with people sharing similar interests and professional goals.
In addition, the close proximity with our teachers gave us frequent opportunities for directly interacting with them and engaging in lively conversations. This provided students with fantastic opportunities for exchanging with them and networking with those world class experts.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the Executive Master to everyone having an interest in international law, human rights and IHL, and having the intention to specialize more in those fields, both for personal interest and professional development. While challenging at time, the Executive Master strongly contributes to reinforcing the legal knowledge, critical thinking and analytical skills of his participants. It also offers a fantastic opportunity to benefit from the teaching of professors whose experience and research is invariably at the forefront of their respective academic fields. Having the chance to join the Executive Master was not only a chance to gain knowledge, but also to integrate a group of highly motivated individuals and to benefit from their diverse and rich background and experience.
From 31 March to 8 April 2017, our LLM students went on a nine-day study trip to Belgrade and Kosovo where they met with a wide range of leading actors in the region working on international humanitarian law, human rights, international criminal law, transitional justice, and migration.
In this interview, Francisco Astudillo Poggi, currently enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.