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

Portrait of Sonali Wanigabaduge Portrait of Sonali Wanigabaduge

6 January 2020

In this interview, Sonali Wanigabaduge, currently enrolled in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.

About Me

My name is Sonali Wanigabaduge and I am from Sri Lanka. I began my career as a human rights lawyer and then worked, over the past 10 years, at one of Sri Lanka’s most influential media organizations (The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited) in varying capacities, including as Head of Corporate/ Legal Affairs for its firebrand news division, and as a television talk show host. My work also enabled me to conceptualise new projects that brought together multiple stakeholders, in areas such as reconciliation, rights awareness and the arts.

I’m also passionate about cinema, theatre, and writing. I fervently believe in the power of human compassion to transcend differences in political ideology.

Why did you choose the MTJ at the Geneva Academy?

I’d always been drawn towards the field of transitional justice, even before I knew the coinage of the term!

A conversation with a friend who had pursued this programme, followed by intense researching, was all the convincing it took for me to uproot myself from 32 years in Sri Lanka, which, I believe, has been one of my bravest and most emotionally fulfilling decisions so far.

What are you particularly enjoying about this programme?

One of the highlights of the programme is the phenomenal insights provided by the stellar panel of professors and human rights experts who encourage innovative thinking around this developing field of transitional justice, coupled with the diversity of opinion from within the class itself. The student body consists of authentic and passionate viewpoints from multiple jurisdictions, which I find particularly intriguing.

Looking outside the window during lectures to the surreal sight of the Geneva Lake is another definite highlight of the course!

Why Would you Recommend this Programme?

This programme encompasses a multidimensional, yet specialised, immersion into transitional justice. Its idyllic and strategic situation in Geneva, where a significant quantum of global human rights work takes place, makes its desirability unparalleled, as interactions are enabled with key players in the field of human rights.

The programme is not for the faint-hearted, but for those who truly wish to serve, whether in the capacity of a policy-maker, activist, or change-maker.

What are you planning to do next?

My heart will forever be with Sri Lanka, no matter where in the world I’d travel to. Whilst appreciating the value of the almost-Utopian results expected of transitional justice, I would like to look at it through a realist’s lens. I am confident that I’d be able to consult with other amazing Sri Lankans from different sectors, who are tirelessly working on the country’s reconciliation process, to catalyse result-oriented transitional justice mechanisms in Sri Lanka, to ensure a truly inclusive reconciliation process geared at non-recurrence of conflict.

Why did you choose to be photographed in front of the Pinta Cura?

The psychedelic Pinta Cura by artist Frédéric Post, to me, represents everything that Geneva doesn’t advertise to be: bold, non-conformist and iridescent.

This resonates with me because I often find myself wanting to look beyond the superficial perfection in situations. Whilst appreciating Geneva’s near-synonymity with human rights, if you look a bit further, you discover its underbelly which comes with its own unique challenges and complexities, which often go under the radar.

Marking the entrance to Geneva’s district of the Grottes, the lit-up images of the serpent and jaguar, rooted in non-Western visual tradition, symbolise therapeutic power and clairvoyance, meant to ward off evil spirits and watch over passers-by in this cosmopolitan city which sees a multiplicity of wanderers with so many emotions, hopes, fears and dreams. This, to me, is the embodiment of the Geneva experience.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Dr Christophe Golay News

Dr Christophe Golay will Discuss the Rights of Peasants at a High-Level Meeting of Colombia’s Constitutional Court

25 January 2021

At an online high-level meeting organized by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Dr Christophe Golay will present the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and its potential to protect the rights of peasants in the country.

Read more

Portrait of Serhat Öztürk News

LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: What our Alumni Say

26 January 2021

Serhat Öztürk graduated from our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in October 2020. He is now working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey. In this interview, he tells about the programme and what it brought to his career.

Read more

View of a session of the UN Human Rights Council Event

UN Human Rights Council at 15 – Role and Perspectives

28 April 2021, 13:00-14:30

This online event – co-organized with the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) and the Embassy of Switzerland in Poland – will discuss the Council’s membership and internal dynamics, as well as selected mechanisms.

Read more

View of Villa Moynier Event

Open House: Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict

16 June 2021, 12:30-13:30

Join us for our open house to learn more about this part-time programme designed professionals, meet staff, students and alumni, and discuss career opportunities.

Read more

Al Mahdi case: ICC Trial Chamber VIII issues reparations order, 17 August 2017 Short Course

International Criminal Law: General Principles and International Crimes

Fall 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, reviews the origins of international criminal law, its relationship with the international legal order including the UN Security Council and its coexistence with national justice institutions. The scope of international crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression – is considered alongside initiatives to expand or add to these categories.

Read more

Ntaganda case: Closing statements.  The closing statements in the case of The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) started on 28 August 2018 before Trial Chamber VI at the seat of the Court in The Hague (Netherlands). Short Course

Accountability for Atrocity Crimes

20 May - 4 June 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, provides participants with a solid understanding of the existing pluralistic system of international accountability for international crimes and of its main challenges.

Read more

Session of the UN Human Rights Committee Project

Treaty Body Review 2020 and Beyond

Started in January 2018

The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

Read more

Un plate with Rapporteur Spécial written on it Project

Support to UN Special Procedures

Started in June 2020

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

published on March 2021

Alice Priddy

Read more