17 February 2023
Rodanthi Violaki is enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. In this interview, she tells about her background, the programme and what it will bring to her career.
Hi! My name is Rodanthi – I am from Greece. I have a bachelor's and master’s degree in public international law and human rights from Panteion University in Athens, specialising in international refugee law and migration. As a student, I made my first professional steps in the diplomatic sector via internships with the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Greek Embassy in France and the European Parliament in Brussels.
However, the ongoing humanitarian crisis that was taking place in the Greek refugee camps, the restrictive migration policies throughout Europe, and the deterioration of the situation at the European borders played a decisive role in my pathway since then. As a result, I worked with refugees and asylum seekers in Greece and the Balkans for national authorities, European agencies and international organizations. As an Asylum Case Officer at the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, I was adjudicating asylum applications by interviewing asylum seekers and supporting their refugee claims by applying and interpreting international refugee law and human rights law.
I then moved to Lesbos and worked in a field position at the refugee camp, aiming to enhance newly arrived asylum seekers’ access to asylum and improve their living conditions in the camp. Before moving to Geneva, I joined the team of Médecins Sans Frontières as Head of Mission Assistant, supporting and coordinating migration projects at detention centres, health projects in the Balkans, as well as legal and medical activities in Lesbos. Engaging closely with displaced communities, experiencing difficult situations and working in a humanitarian context have further cultivated my passion and dedication to this domain.
This LLM at the Geneva Academy has been one of my dreams since I was an undergraduate student. I was particularly interested in pursuing this programme for the quality of the teaching by the most qualified and devoted professors and practitioners in their field, inspiring you with their passion and determination to pursue your goals.
The Geneva Academy provides visibility to many humanitarian issues and challenges – some of which you were not even aware of – and equips you with critical and multidisciplinary tools that allow you to approach these topics holistically. It opens your horizons and provides opportunities that would be hard to find elsewhere and imagine before.
Besides the heavy workload, the programme is intellectually stimulating and professionalising. The whole experience is becoming even more memorable by studying with an amazing group of fellow students with whom you explore new fields of law and learn from their experiences. Daily seminars covering all the possible aspects of interests empower and encourage students to pursue their ambitions and meet lovely people on the way.
The programme equips you with tools, skills, and extensive knowledge and enhances how we formulate legal thoughts and defend human rights issues. Throughout the programme, we cultivate our legal thinking and language, find ways to address human rights violations and discover appropriate legal alternatives for proceeding with cases that worry us.
The Socrates method of teaching, the practitioner-led approach, and discussions on cross-cutting issues of law offer us countless insights into many concrete situations on the ground and how we can independently work in the field with a concrete impact. I will always remember Professor Citroni and her course on enforced disappearances in international law. As an academic and practitioner, she managed to share with us – via her engaging approach and the quality of her teaching – her passion for this issue that inspired the class to learn more about enforced disappearances, to think of alternative litigation avenues before human rights bodies and to apply the law in practice.
I also enjoy the preparation for the Jean-Pictet Competition with our qualified coach as I am a member of the Geneva Academy’s team – a unique opportunity to take international humanitarian law out of the books in simulations that resemble actual situations on the ground.
I cannot recommend the LLM programme and the whole experience in Geneva enough. Living this unique opportunity feels like the most fitting choice for me. In only four months, our whole class is experiencing significant growth in knowledge, and the weekly tutorials support us throughout this challenging and intense journey. The Geneva Academy truly fulfils its promise to create a new generation of practitioners equipped with multi-disciplinary skills and revolutionary legal thinking.
After my graduation, I aim to return to Greece to work on case litigation before judicial and quasi-judicial human rights bodies in Europe against Greece on matters of arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees in administrative immigration centres. Undoubtedly this LLM is already providing me with the knowledge and skills to defend people’s human rights in the most respective and comprehensive manner.
This is the view someone can enjoy when following seminars or lessons at the beautiful Villa Moynier. The park in front of the Geneva Academy and the view of the lake and the mountains make days prettier and calmer, particularly after long hours of studying.
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