Delving into Topical Humanitarian, Human Rights and Transitional Justice Questions

27 September 2022

Students of our two full-time programmes – the LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) and the MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) – who will graduate in October 2022, dedicated their summer to the writing of their LLM and MTJ papers – a key output of both programmes.

In around 30 pages – and under the supervision of a Faculty member – they researched a subject of special interest to them and deepened their knowledge and expertise through research as well as exchanges with experts, scholars and practitioners.

The writing of these papers – which comes at the end of both programmes – is a unique opportunity to apply the concepts students learned in class to a specific topic and develop a convincing legal argument around it.

Hearing from the New Generation

Besides the academic exercise, these papers are also a good barometer of the issues, topics and concerns of the new generation of IHL, human rights and transitional justice experts.

‘It is very refreshing to see the diversity of issues addressed by our students, as well as their relevance’ underlines Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘The fact that many of these papers are then published, as articles, in leading journals and blogs attests to their quality and originality she adds.

LLM Papers: From Armed Groups to the Protection of Human Rights in Mega Sporting Events

The 46 LLM papers investigate specific issues related to IHL, international human rights law, international criminal law and international refugee law, which constitute the backbone of the programme.

Many papers address legal issues related to armed non-state actors, notably in relation to the protection of the environment, complex emergencies and humanitarian assistance, cyber hacking, enforced disappearances, the exploitation of natural resources, the status of foreign fighters, child recruitment, or the classification of armed conflicts.

Students also addressed in their respective papers several legal questions related to refugees, migration and displacement, notably in relation to concrete cases like stateless Rohingya, the Kenyan 2021 Refugee Act, the refoulement of Haitian migrants by the United States, or holding Italian and Libyan actors responsible for enforced disappearances in the Mediterranean.

As in previous years, our students also discussed legal questions related to armed conflicts like siege warfare, but this time focusing on the application of the right to health and integrating incidental mental harm into the proportionality assessment during the conduct of hostilities, the duty to rescue at sea, or the existence of 'doubt' within article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention.

Several papers also echo very concrete and current concerns, including the impact of the Taliban's return on women's rights in Afghanistan, the role of the Facebook oversight board in the era of digital constitutionalism, or human rights violations in sporting events and the case of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

MTJ Papers: Focus on Concrete Cases

The 42 MTJ papers address specific transitional justice (TJ) issues and challenges as well as specific TJ situations in different countries.

Several students explored in their papers the work of TJ mechanisms, accountability in post-conflict settings, the complexity of peace processes notably in relation to women’s participation, or how a TJ approach can provide reparation and rehabilitation to indigenous peoples. Other prominent topics include how a TJ framework can address the effects of colonialism, memory laws or corporate social responsibility in post-conflict situations.

Most papers address concrete cases at the local level in Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Iran, Kosovo, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Russian Federation, The Gambia, The Netherlands, Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uganda, the United States and Venezuela.

‘Many of our MTJ students come from or have worked in countries experiencing transitional processes and end up applying what they have learned in class to these contexts’ underlines Professor Gaggioli.

‘This is very positive and encouraging as most of them will continue to work in this field and even go back to their countries or regions affected by conflict or political transitions where they will be able to accompany these important processes’ she adds.


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