MAS in Transitional Justice: What our Alumni Say

13 February 2024

Hiran Geeganage graduated from our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law back in 2021. As an Associate at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Persons Deprived of Liberty Unit, he supports the development of a methodology for monitoring and reporting on the institution’s detention activities.

In this interview, he tells about the programme, fond memories and what it brought to his career.

In your opinion, what are the strengths of the programme?

The strengths of the programme lie in its diverse range of courses, supported by a faculty composed of experienced lecturers. The interactive nature of the lectures encourages student engagement and fosters a welcoming environment for voicing opinions on various thematic areas. Additionally, the inclusion of practitioners and guest speakers enriches the learning experience by offering real-world insights and perspectives. Furthermore, the programme's global student body provides a unique opportunity for cross-cultural learning and exchange of experiences, both within and outside the classroom.

Tell us about your current job: what are your main responsibilities?

I joined the ICRC as an Associate in Geneva back in 2023. I am currently assigned to the Persons Deprived of Liberty Unit, where my primary responsibility is to support the development of a methodology for monitoring and reporting on the ICRC's detention activities globally. This involves coordinating with ICRC delegations worldwide, alongside my team, to analyze existing methodologies and develop a uniform approach that streamlines ICRC’s data collection process on detention. Additionally, I provide technical support for the Persons Deprived of Liberty Unit and assist in the organization of workshops, forums, and training sessions on detention.

How do you apply what you learned in class in your work?

My work requires an understanding of the Geneva Conventions and armed conflicts, which I acquired at the Geneva Academy. This allowed me to better comprehend the work of the ICRC in the contexts of international armed conflicts, non-international armed conflicts, and other forms of violence. Completing online courses, which were prerequisites for the job, was quite convenient for me since I had already obtained an in-depth understanding of the Geneva Conventions

Could you share some highlights or fond memories from your time in the programme?

The MTJ programme provided me with the opportunity to interact with peers from diverse backgrounds, who spoke various languages, including French, Spanish, and German, in addition to English. I fondly remember the discussions we engaged in during lectures, group presentations, and while preparing assignments. These allowed us to share different perspectives on human rights and humanitarian issues, as well as insights into each other's cultures. Such interactions inspired me to embrace the challenge of learning another language. Encouraged by my French-speaking colleagues, I embarked on learning French and swiftly attained a B1 proficiency level within a short period. Subsequently, this proficiency facilitated my transition to joining the ICRC, where French proficiency is a crucial requirement.

In what way has this experience contributed to your professional growth?

I must acknowledge the extensive exposure this programme offers, not only in terms of academics but also through the inclusion of international students from diverse backgrounds. Geneva marked my first international experience, and the year at the Geneva Academy helped me acclimate to working within an organization of ICRC's calibre. Furthermore, I was delighted to discover that Geneva Academy’s alumni were employed in various organizations across Geneva. It was particularly enlightening to learn that both the predecessor for my role at the ICRC and my current supervisor had graduated from the MTJ programme in previous years.

Would you recommend this programme to others considering similar career paths?

I wholeheartedly recommend the MTJ programme to anyone pursuing a career in the humanitarian sector. I have personally witnessed the level of recognition for the Geneva Academy in my field of work. I strongly believe that this programme is a valuable stepping stone for anyone willing to pursue an international career in transitional justice, human rights, or the humanitarian sector.

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