MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: What our Students Say

17 December 2021

In this interview, Jean-Paul Nizigiyimana, currently enrolled in our Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ), tells us about his background, the programme and what it will bring to his career.

About Me

I am Jean-Paul, and I come from Burundi – a beautiful country of a thousand hills in East Africa. I am married to Claudia Munyengabe, a skilful theatre writer and actress. With her, God blessed us with a now two-month daughter, Selah Ningabe.

Having grown up amid an inter-ethnic crisis in my country, I joined the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Université du Lac Tanganyika in my country, with the objective to contribute to sustainable peace in Burundi. While studying at the university, I trained more than 500 university students on the topics of ‘Etat-Nation et Démocratie’ for the Ndakunda Uburundi (I love Burundi) movement.

After my studies, I worked as a research assistant on local governance dynamics following a conflict, then as a media hate speech analyst at the La Benevolencija-Burundi, and lastly as a trainer, researcher, and project lead on the bottom-up approaches in transition societies at Impunity Watch in Burundi. During these years, I developed critical skills on consolidated theories of conflict and the management of wounded memories.

Currently, and thanks to the scholarship I received to study at the Geneva Academy, I can acquire other tools to accompany transitions while also sharing my experiences with fellow students.

In my life, when time and means allow, I like travelling to learn how our diversity – different beliefs, colours, and cultures – is the most beautiful thing our world can ever have.

Why did you choose the MTJ at the Geneva Academy?

The programme coincides perfectly with my knowledge gaps in the fields of transitional justice, human rights, and rule of law. Its multidisciplinary nature and the fact that it brings students from different countries and backgrounds is also a strong asset.

What are you particularly enjoying about this programme?

To be honest, it feels like we are travelling to different conflict zones, struggling to resolve difficult legacies while sitting in the classroom.

This is more than a regular class: it is a space where students' experiences – from different countries/regions and cultures – are being shared in the in-depth understanding of each course.

Would you Recommend it?

I would highly recommend it: it is a transitional justice programme that challenges and transforms students to become peacebuilders. It prepares students to be strong peaceful leaders, refraining from every form of using violence for a better world.

What are you planning to do next?

In my country, the most educated people are not informed about the international legal framework of conflict resolution. To contribute to this, I plan to produce research articles, blogs and give courses in some universities. Later on, I would like to create peace clubs in high schools to constantly share and transmit this knowledge.

Why did you choose to be photographed in front of the Reformation Wall?

For me, the sculptors of the reformation's fathers (interesting history to learn) on this wall, show the humanity of Geneva in valuing the contributions of foreigners in the building and development of the city.

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