Luisa Gómez Betancur
2 April 2019
Students of our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law (MTJ) spent three days in Poland (Krakow and Warsaw) to look into transitional justice issues and see how the country has been deadline with its past.
‘Poland is for me one of the most fascinating and complicated cases of dealing with a difficult past after the Holocaust and the fallout from a long-lasting authoritarian communist regime. The three-day trip provided me with new insights on the role of Poles not only as victims and passive observers, but also arguably as perpetrators, and how the current generations are struggling to deal with such complex identity. I believe this trip is not an end in itself, rather it has left us contemplating additional questions of law, justice and memory’ says Linh Thao Nong.
Before leaving to Poland, students met in Geneva with Dr Andre Liebich, Honorary Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, who briefed them on Poland’s history, its post-Communist lustration process, and its current political scene.
Via guided tours, museums visits and discussions with experts, MTJ students learned about the challenges related to dealing with the past in Poland.
In a meeting at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Warsaw, they discussed with scholars – Dr Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias, Assistant Professor at the Poznań Human Rights Centre of the Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences; Marta Saracyn, Programme Director at JCC Warsaw; and Dr Tomasz Lachowski, Transitional Justice Expert at the Faculty of Law and Administration at the University of Lodz – Poland’s Holocaust and Communist past, including how Polish memory laws applied to the Holocaust and the impact of these laws; the complexities and varied nature of the Jewish identity; and transitional justice in Poland and the post-Communist lustration process.
‘The meetings we had in the Jewish Community Center in Warsaw highlighted one more time the vital significance of creating and preserving a historical narrative that reflects the realities of the past, without being subjected to political manipulation’ underlines Lilit Hovhannisyan.
Students spent their last day in Poland with a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.
‘The visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was an unforgettable experience. There is nothing like being physically present at a historical location when trying to comprehend the magnitude of an event, particularly one as overwhelmingly tragic as the Holocaust’ explains Christina Martin.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
Dr Annyssa Bellal is a Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy and our Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). She currently works on a research project on armed groups and IHL.
Ramzi Kaiss comes from Beirut and has been working in the US and Lebanon on issues related to genocide, mass atrocities and memory. Currently enrolled in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, he tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.
Join us online to discuss the protection of the rights of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.
This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.