Students Spend Three Days in Poland to See How a Country Deals with its Past

Group photo of MTJ students during their study trip to Poland Group photo of MTJ students during their study trip to Poland

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.

Preparations in Geneva

The study trip was organized by three MTJ students: Luisa Gómez Betancur, Anthoula Bourolias, and Zoe Fiscus-Doss.

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.

MAS in Transitional Justice Study Trip Poland Liebich

Looking into Poland’s Holocaust and Communist Past

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.

MAS in Transitional Justice Study Trip Poland Dealing with the Past

A Visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial

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.

MAS in Transitional Justice Study Trip Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Hiran Geeganage in front of the ICRC building News

MAS in Transitional Justice: What our Alumni Say

13 February 2024

As an Associate at the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Persons Deprived of Liberty Unit, Hiran Geeganage supports the development of a methodology for monitoring and reporting on the institution’s detention activities. In this interview, he tells about the programme, fond memories and what it brought to his career.

Read more

TransMonEE Database and Dashboard Logo News

In Highlight: TransMonEE Database and Dashboard

25 April 2024

Via its DHRTTDs Directory, the Geneva Human Rights Platform provides a comprehensive list and description of such key tools and databases. But how to navigate them? Which tool should be used for what, and by whom? This interview helps us understand better the specificities of the April highlight of the directory: TransMonEE Database and Dashboard

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

11-15 November 2024

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.

Read more

First annual conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform Project

The Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Started in June 2019

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Briefing N° 23: The Human Rights Data Revolution

published on April 2024

Domenico Zipoli

Read more

Cover page of the Research Brief Publication

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

published on December 2023

Erica Harper

Read more