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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Six out of the 18 chapters of the new Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law – edited by Ben Saul and Dapo Akande – have been written or co-written by Geneva Academy’s professors or experts.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
Designed for professionals, our Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict is one of the few part-time, innovative and intellectually challenging programmes in the law of armed conflict offered today.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.
This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.
Olivier Chamard / Geneva Academy
The Treaty Body Members’ Platform connects experts in UN treaty bodies with each other as well as with Geneva-based practitioners, academics and diplomats to share expertise, exchange views on topical questions and develop synergies.