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.
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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.
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UN Photo/Violaine Martin
During one week, Francesca Gortan, Sarah Surget and Sophie Timmermans represented the Geneva Academy at the 38th Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition that took place in Durrës, Albania, from 19 to 26 March.
This event marks the launch of our LLM alumna Jelena Plamenac’s award-winning book ‘Unravelling Unlawful Confinement in Contemporary Armed Conflicts’ published by Brill.
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This IHL Talk aims at clarifying the relevant frameworks of responsibility for the crimes committed by the Wagner troops.
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This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.
This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.
The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.