22 October 2021
Graduating students of our two full-time programmes – the LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) and the MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) – dedicated their summer to the writing of their LLM and MTJ papers – a key output of both programmes.
In around 20 pages – and under the supervision of a Faculty member – they investigated a subject of special interest to them and deepened their knowledge and expertise through research as well as exchanges with experts, scholars and practitioners.
The writing of these papers – which comes at the end of the programme – is an opportunity for our students to apply the concepts they have learned in class to a specific topic and develop a convincing legal argument around it.
‘I am always impressed by the quality, diversity and originality of the papers, as well as by their relevance. Throughout the years, they have proven to be a very good barometer of the contemporary challenges in the humanitarian, human rights and transitional justice fields’ says Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
‘Reading what the young generation and tomorrow’s decision-makers and leaders have to say on these challenges is refreshing and gives hope that the protection of individuals will remain at the centre of the preoccupations of the international community’ she adds.
Christin Hume, Unsplash
Markus Winkler, Unsplash
The 46 LLM papers delve into specific issues related to international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law, international criminal law and international refugee law, which constitute the backbone of the programme.
Several students discuss in their papers issues related to the environment, including the environmental law obligations of armed groups or the protection framework applying to environmentally induced migration.
Privacy, surveillance and new technologies are also at the forefront of students’ concerns and interests. They notably addressed these themes from the perspective of international criminal responsibility in the context of the use of autonomous weapons, the use of new technologies to document war crimes and mass atrocities, or the limits that human rights standards pose to mass surveillance.
Some papers also explore the responsibility of businesses for IHL and human rights violations, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine distribution in the Global South and intellectual property regimes.
Novel questions addressed in the LLM papers include the rights of transgender persons – notably in relation to detention during armed conflicts –, the universality of IHL, or the protection afforded to cultural heritage by Islamic Law as compared to IHL.
As in previous years, our students also explore and discuss specific armed conflict situations or legal questions like the administration of justice by armed groups, the application of the principle of proportionality to siege warfare, or the criteria used to classify a situation of armed violence as an armed conflict.
‘Most of our students’ topics are at the forefront of the international community’s humanitarian and human rights concerns and discussions. This shows not only the relevance of this research and writing and exercise but also the importance of a legal approach to address these challenges’ explains Professor Gaggioli.
The 30 MTJ papers address specific transitional justice (TJ) issues and challenges as well as specific TJ situations in 15 different countries.
Several students explore in their papers the complexity of peace processes from the angles of refugees’ and women with disabilities’ participation, their digitalization, or negotiation with armed groups and so called ‘terrorist’ organizations. Other topics include the implementation of truth commissions’ recommendations, reconciliation as a key TJ objective, TJ and environmental justice, the role of custom in TJ or reparation for violations committed by extractive industries in armed conflicts.
A majority of papers explore TJ questions arising at the local level – peacebuilding and social media, counter-terrorism measures and TJ, mental health and TJ, or the cooperation with organized crime groups in the search of the missing – in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Colombia, Ethiopia Hungary, India (Jammu and Kashmir), Kosovo, Mexico, Myanmar, Palestine, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, South Africa, or the United States.
‘The fact that a majority of our MTJ students discuss, in their paper, a specific country situation, does not only show the diversity of our student body, but also their commitment to change in their respective countries’ says Professor Gaggioli.
‘Many of our students go back, after graduation, to their country or region affected by conflict or political transitions where they work in the judiciary, NGOs, international organizations or governmental agencies where they become real agents of a transition towards sustainable peace’ she adds.
Sandra Magno/UNDP Timor-Leste
UN Photo/Violaine Martin
Renewed fighting – despite ongoing peace talks – prompted the reclassification of the armed violence between Thailand and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN) on our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict online portal.
From 14 to 20 November, flags with the Geneva Academy’s logo will be flying on the Mont-Blanc Bridge on the occasion of our 15th anniversary.
U.S. Air Force
This panel discussion – co-organized with ICoCA – will consider the growing importance of PMCs and the role ICoCA might play in promoting human rights observance and strengthening accountability of these actors in armed conflicts.
This online short course discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.
This online short course will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe