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

Lisa Borden in Front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva Lisa Borden in Front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva

14 January 2020

 In this interview, Lisa Borden, currently enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.

About Me

My name is Lisa, and I came to Geneva from the South-eastern United States. I was a practising trial lawyer in the US for 30 years, spending the last ten of those years as the pro bono partner at a large law firm. My practice included civil rights, postconviction death penalty, and prison conditions litigation, as well as other issues of criminal justice and poverty. I have two college student daughters back home. I enjoy cooking (and eating), reading, jazz music, and yoga.

Why did you choose the LLM at the Geneva Academy?

In addition to my litigation practice in the US, I was fortunate to also work closely with a US NGO with consultative status at the United Nations (UN) and was able to visit Geneva several times, advocating on human rights issue before a number of treaty mechanisms and at the Universal Periodic Review. These experiences led me to become interested in how I could apply international laws and mechanisms to issues of professional concern to me. Of all the programmes I researched, the LLM at the Geneva Academy stood out as the best choice because of the high calibre of the professors and, of course, its location in the midst of the human rights and humanitarian law community in Geneva.

What are you particularly enjoying about this programme?

The quality of instruction has exceeded my expectations – our professors are not only brilliant and knowledgeable, but their breadth of high-level professional experience and expertise means that they are often on the cutting edge of developing fields. And, despite some trepidation, it has been invigorating for me to be in classes with people who are mostly decades younger than myself.

What are you planning to do next?

My general thought about my future work, when I decided to come to the Geneva Academy, was that I would seek a position with an NGO doing international human rights investigation and advocacy, similar to the one with which I partnered while practising in the US, and that may very well be what I wind up doing. But I have become aware of so many other options since coming here, and I have an open mind. I’ll be looking for a position that allows me to put both my Geneva Academy education and my prior experience to work to help address violations of human rights.

Why did you choose to be photographed in front of the Palais des Nations?

Working as a volunteer NGO advocate at the UN was my very happy introduction to Geneva, and what prompted this new chapter of my life.

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