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

Portrait of Katja Schöberl Portrait of Katja Schöberl

8 December 2020

Katja Schöberl graduated from our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in 2008.

After a one-year traineeship within the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)’s Legal Division, she returned to the Geneva Academy in 2009 to work as a teaching assistant. In 2012, she took on a position as IHL Legal Adviser for the German Red Cross in Berlin, where she has been living and working since.

Why Did you Choose to Follow the LLM at the Geneva Academy?

The LLM offered the most rigorous education in international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights in armed conflict, backed by the Geneva Academy’s founding institutions’ renewed commitment to a specialized programme in these areas of law. The depth and range of IHL training were deciding factors for my choice and had often been identified as outstanding qualities of this programme by IHL professionals I approached to seek advice.

What are the Strengths of the Programme?

The programme offers students the opportunity to strive for academic excellence, to be taught by leading experts, to gain valuable practical experience and to learn among a highly diverse group of students. I have followed with great interest and admiration how the LLM programme has flourished since we were enrolled as the Geneva Academy’s first cohort in 2007. The programme is today firmly anchored in what the Geneva Academy’s staff has been able to impressively build over the years: a place of outstanding teaching and research. The continuous development of the catalogue of optional courses is merely one indication of the Geneva Academy’s dedication to include the most relevant and topical issues in its teaching. The inclusion of internship opportunities, clinical legal work and pleadings into the LLM programme has enabled students to develop their practical skills even more strongly.

How was Teaching?

I was, and continue to be, deeply impressed with the teaching staff’s profound dedication to training young international lawyers. Professors, lecturers and teaching assistants generously shared their expertise in and experience with international law, including their remarkable achievements, professional setbacks, open questions as well as hopes and aspirations for international law. The didactical approach adopted within the LLM programme (inductive analyses, case-based methods, group work) fostered a dialogue in which diverse opinions, critical views and new proposals were always welcome.

Your Best Memories of the Programme?

The numerous discussions inside and outside the classroom, including at various apéros.

What Did it Bring to your Career?

The programme has allowed me to start a career in IHL. It has provided me with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to work in a professional context dealing with IHL, such as the ICRC and the German Red Cross. It has also contributed significantly to my academic development and has allowed me to pursue a doctorate in IHL. Since graduation, the programme has continued to enrich my professional life. It has generated a community of IHL professionals whose work in and reflections about international law have a significant impact on my work. The Geneva Academy and its staff have created an extraordinary space for alumni and students of the programme to meet and I am always grateful for the possibility to reconnect with them at one of the Geneva Academy’s conferences and events.

Would you Recommend It?

I would, and regularly do, highly recommend the programme to any student looking for an intellectually challenging and truly rewarding post-graduate education in IHL.

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