September 2023 - August 2023
Study Mode Full-time
Application start 28 November 2022
Application end 24 February 2023
Application end (with scholarship) 27 January 2023


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Optional Courses

Optional courses allow our students to deepen their expertise in a particular transitional justice issue like the role of civil society during transitions, memoralization or cultural heritage in post-conflict.

Violence, Memory and Transitional Justice

Julia Viebach

There has been a rush to commemorate human rights abuses globally, often referred to as memorialization. This entails the establishment of memorial museums, statues, annual ceremonies, the renaming of streets or naming of state and educational institutions after victims, and the documenting and archiving of human rights abuses through transitional justice mechanisms. This course aims to critically examine these initiatives undertaken by international, state and civil society actors. It adopts a critical, interdisciplinary perspective to unravel the complexities, tensions and implications of memorialization in transitional contexts. The course draws on a range of case studies, including Chile, South Africa, Rwanda and Bosnia, to explore live debates in scholarship and practice concerning ‘localising memory’, the so-called ‘politics of memory’ and how far memory initiatives might contribute to, or even hinder, transitional justice processes. We will ask: Who are the memory entrepreneurs? To what extent do memory initiatives contribute to reconciliation? How is the past represented and recounted at memorials and commemoration ceremonies, to what effect? How can we understand the conceptual links between violence, trauma and remembrance individually and socially? The course encourages students to engage with the topic through interactive teaching methods, such as roleplays, debates, mind-maps, videos and podcasts.

Identity Claims and Cultural Diversity

Neus Torbisco-Casals

Indigenous peoples, linguistic minorities, and ethnic groups, among others, typically claim a wide range of group-differentiated rights or accommodations in order to protect their specific cultures, overcome a history of abuse, and attain a higher level of equality vis-à-vis the larger majority population. Over the last decade, the discussion on how to accommodate such claims has become prominent in the growing literature on transitional justice and development. Managing diversity surely remains a challenge in all societies; yet, this task is especially acute in transitional societies divided along ethno-cultural lines that need to confront a legacy of past injustices. This course traces the main lines of these debates with a view to identifying different approaches to managing diversity and their implications for human rights, democratic governance, and political justice in transitional societies. Applying an intersectional analysis, the discussion aims at acknowledging the complexity of the experiences of injustice and discrimination that continue to damage inter-group relations, thus posing a significant threat to the success of political and social reforms. A practical and comparative focus will be provided through class discussions on specific cases from a variety of contexts.

Cultural Heritage in Post-Conflict

Alessandro Chechi

This course will study the complex interrelationship between international cultural heritage law and transitional justice (TJ). More particularly, it will explore the different roles that cultural heritage plays in TJ settings with respect to peace-building and reconciliation. During this course, we will examine international cultural heritage law – including treaties, soft law instruments and jurisprudence – in order to discuss its development and its connections with other branches of international law – namely international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Furthermore, we will critically examine the notion of cultural heritage. We will then focus on the question of whether and how international cultural heritage law engages with TJ strategies in post-conflict societies. Various cases will be presented and discussed in order to demonstrate that cultural heritage may contribute to achieving the overall societal goals of TJ. These cases will also allow to single out the legal problems and the underlying causes of conflict and oppression that remain to be addressed. Finally, we will study how international organizations and specialised agencies enable societies in transition in coming to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses and hence in fostering sustainable peace.

Truth, Reconciliation and Mental Health

Brandon Hamber

Dealing with the past is a legal and political task but invariably this has social and psychological dimensions. A complex set of relationships exist between the recovery from political violence and the psychological processes that accompany widespread social change. Understanding this relationship can arguably strengthen transitional justice processes, and enhance psychosocial well-being in the society at large. Drawing on extensive personal experience in South Africa, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, as well the latest academic research, this course will examine the centrality of mental health issues in transitional justice, and the social, cultural, and identity issues involved in meeting the needs of victims, as well as addressing issues related to those who perpetrate violence. The course will also address issues such as truth, reconciliation, reparations, memorialization, and the role of civil society, through a psychosocial lens.

Civil Society and Transitional Justice

Alex Conte

The role and engagement of civil society in transitional justice are ever-developing, with practices and lessons learned over time confirming the essential role that civil society actors play in prompting, engaging in and ensuring the sustainability of transitional justice processes. This course takes a primarily practice-based approach to the subject and will be of importance and value to those from a civil society background, those wishing to work within civil society organizations and those with an interest in the transformative potential of civil society actors. The course will begin with examination of civil society as a transitional justice actor, providing a broad base for in-depth consideration of further issues; it will explore three particular modalities of action in detail (monitoring and documentation of human rights violations; engaging with supra-national mechanisms; and strategic litigation); and will conclude with an assessment of project cycle management, an increasingly vital aspect of the functioning of NGOs today.

International Disaster Law

Giulio Bartolini

Disasters caused by natural and technological hazards are a commonplace phenomenon, representing one of the most significant challenges for humanitarian actors and affected communities. Despite their magnitude, as magnified by the current Covid-19 pandemic, the attention of the international community towards the legal implications of disasters has been neglected for a long time, finally resulting in a scattered and heterogenous collection of instruments. This course will thus offer a critical survey of relevant sources, actors, universal and regional institutional frameworks and main legal issues relevant for such scenarios, as: operational challenges related to relief activities; human rights issues in disaster settings; disaster risk reduction or the relationship with other areas, as humanitarian assistance in international humanitarian law. A specific focus will be paid to legal and humanitarian challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic. Through frontal lectures, complemented by interactive activities as case-studies and dialogues with practitioners, students can get a proper understanding of the rationale, structure and content of international law rules addressing the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in the event of disasters and assess their impact for humanitarian actors, international organisations and domestic stakeholders.

Sexuality, Gender Identity and International Law

Andreas Ziegler

This course gives an overview of the role of sexuality and gender identity in international human rights law (e.g. persecution, discrimination, harassment etc.) and international humanitarian law (e.g. sexual violence). Among other things, it will present the existing treaties in the field that address these aspects and will look at existing problems and loopholes. The course also provides an overview of the ‘Jogjakarta Principles’ and recent initiatives by the United Nations (UN) Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. A special emphasis will be put on the taboos in the international discourse and the role of non-state actors, as presented in the UN Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTI people.