MAS Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law
PeriodSeptember 2023 - August 2024
FormatOn-site – switch over to online-learning if required
Registration deadline24 February 2023
- Provide high-level academic education and real-world practice in the field of transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law
- Primary focus is placed on strengthening interdisciplinary knowledge and preparing students for future professional activities
- One year full-time
- 60 ECTS credits
- World-renowned faculty
- Core courses, optional courses and the writing of a paper
- Weekly tutorials to revise concepts addressed in the core courses and prepare for the exams
- The possibility to carry out internships with leading transitional justice and human rights actors
- Participation in moot courts
- Extracurricular activities
- A study trip
Prof. Gloria GAGGIOLI, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, a joint Centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International Studies (IHEID), Geneva
Diploma delivered jointly by
What does it mean for a society to come to terms with mass atrocities, such as genocide and ethnic cleansing? How can the rule of law be re-established in a country shattered by wide-scale violence? What are the legal obligations and standards relevant to societies trying to turn the page on a history of political violence? How can the competing demands of peace and justice be balanced in the aftermath of such traumatic events? What can realistically be expected from measures such as trials, truth commissions, reparation programmes and institutional reform?
The Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) is a one-year full-time postgraduate degree designed for highly qualified and open-minded candidates interested in acquiring high-level academic education and practice in the field of transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law.
One of the very few programmes on this subject worldwide, its cross-disciplinary approach combines legal, political, historical, anthropological, philosophical and field perspectives and promotes both academic excellence and independent critical thinking.
Besides core courses that provide a firm grounding in the central theoretical and practical transitional justice issues, the programme allows students to tailor their studies to their particular interests via optional courses, internships, participation in a moot court and a series of extracurricular activities.
Throughout the year, students have access to a prestigious faculty composed of leading academics and renowned experts and practitioners working for international organizations and NGOs who are in touch with the latest developments and debates.
Introduction to Transitional Justice
This course introduces the concept of transitional justice. It seeks to familiarize participants with the legal and ethical frameworks necessary for understanding, and critically engaging with, this ever-expanding field. What is transitional justice? Where does it come from? What is it and who is it for? How is it done? By which principles, norms and practices is it informed? In addressing these basic questions, the course proceeds in three parts. Part one provides an introductory discussion of the concept of transitional justice, its legal framework, and its mechanisms. Part two explores the regionalization of transitional justice in the African and Latin American contexts. Lastly, part three examines transitional justice practice through the lens of interdisciplinary studies on various contemporary issues in the field.
Victims and Human Rights Law
This course aims to provide students with the foundations of international human rights law (IHRL) as well as with an understanding of transitional justice from a human rights law perspective. It will begin by laying the foundations of IHRL (both norms and machinery), including civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. This introduction to IHRL will ensure that students are able to make the necessary connections between this branch of international law, victims’ rights, and transitional justice, and learn well the tools available within it to work on transitional justice issues.
International Law and Transitional Justice: Mapping the Terrain
This introductory course provides a mapping of the various fields of international law in order to give students a birds’ view on the relevant legal frameworks, their main rules relevant for transitional justice processes, their respective scopes of application, and their implementation mechanisms. The course will also look at state responsibility as a way to implement state obligations as opposed to individual criminal responsibility. The course serves as a basis for the more specialized courses of the MTJ programme on the various substantive fields of law, (i.e. international criminal law, displacement and international law, and human rights law). Throughout the course, a series of peace agreements, used in a broad sense, will be looked at in order to ascertain the practical relevance of the international legal frameworks that apply in transitions.
The Foundations of International Criminal Justice as a Component of Transitional Justice
Criminal justice is an important component of transitional justice. It involves the identification of individual perpetrators and their punishment, generally by significant periods of detention. This course addresses the aims and functioning of criminal justice, with a special focus on actors and institutions at the international level. In exploring the theoretical and practical dimensions of criminal justice, the course critically examines its place in transitional justice processes as well as its challenges and potential limitations when it comes to achieving democracy and peace.
Displacement and International Law
This course will explore the interlinkages between displacement and transitional justice from the angle of public international law. The two fields are closely interconnected as transitional justice seeks to address human rights violations that are the main cause of displacement. Likewise, displaced persons are recognized by the international community as key actors of transitional justice and reconciliation in post-conflict settings. Despite their obvious interactions, the fields of displacement and transitional justice have remained largely disconnected from each other in both law and practice. This has been exacerbated by the fragmentation of the applicable legal regime among a broad range of instruments and disciplines (human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law, criminal law). Against this background, this course will provide a holistic approach to unpack the broad variety of international legal norms governing displacement and transitional justice. It will discuss the intersections between the two fields with a focus on the most salient issues at stake, including return and reintegration; restitution and reparation; displacement as a crime of international law; as well as the inclusion of refugees and internally displaced persons in formal and informal processes of criminal justice.
Truth Commissions are an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. In countries as varied as Peru, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Kenya and Brazil, truth commissions have been set up to investigate patterns of past human rights violations. This course will provide a comprehensive, multidimensional and practical examination of this transitional justice mechanism, shedding light on both its aims and practical challenges. It will address practically relevant questions on how to set up a truth commission and the different roles such commissions can play in addressing both individual and collective violations and promoting guarantees of non-recurrence.
Violence, Memory and Transitional Justice
There has been a rush to commemorate human rights abuses globally, often referred to as memorialisation. This entails the establishment of memorial museums, statues, annual ceremonies, the renaming of streets or naming of state and educational institutions after victims, and the documenting and archiving of human rights abuses through transitional justice mechanisms. This course aims to critically examine these initiatives undertaken by international, state and civil society actors. It adopts a critical, interdisciplinary perspective to unravel the complexities, tensions and implications of memorialisation in transitional contexts. The course draws on a range of case studies, including Chile, Peru, Rwanda and Bosnia, to explore live debates in scholarship and practice concerning ‘localising memory’, the so-called ‘politics of memory’ and how far memory initiatives might contribute to, or even hinder, transitional justice processes.
This course focuses on the intersection between peacebuilding and transitional justice. Peacebuilding relies on dialogue and engagement among various segments of society to establish shared understandings of the social and political realities facing a country. Compromise and willingness to engage are central to its success. Transitional justice relies on a number of approaches, ranging from legal to dialogue-based ones. The intersection between the two is crucial to the longevity and quality of peace in conflict-affected countries. Throughout these processes, the question of inclusivity and participation is central. Who can participle and whose voice is heard? How does the end of conflict impact, or not, gender relations within a country? Can peacebuilding bring meaningful social transformation for all members of society? The course will rely on the literature discussing recent trends in peacebuilding and inclusive peace processes, with attention to the intersection with justice.
Transitional Justice, Mental Health and Pshycological Issues
Dealing with the past is a legal and political task but invariably this has social and psychological dimensions. A complex set of relationships exist between the recovery from political violence and the psychological processes that accompany widespread social change. Understanding this relationship can arguably strengthen transitional justice processes, and enhance psychosocial well-being in the society at large. Drawing on extensive personal experience in South Africa, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, as well the latest academic research, this course will examine the centrality of mental health issues in transitional justice, and the social, cultural, and identity issues involved in meeting the needs of victims, as well as addressing issues related to those who perpetrate violence. The course will also address issues such as truth, reconciliation, reparations, memorialization, and the role of civil society, through a psychosocial lens.
Optional courses allow our students to deepen their expertise in a particular transitional justice issue like the role of civil society during transitions, memorialization or cultural heritage in post-conflict.
Our MTJ students have the opportunity, during the Spring Semester, to acquire first-hand professional experience via internships with leading actors in the field of human rights and transitional justice.
As part of the curriculum, our MTJ students can participate in the Jean- Pictet Competition following a competitive selection process carried out by a Geneva Academy jury.
Extracurricular activities allow our MTJ students to focus on issues addressed in class with experts and practitioners, explore new subjects, and develop their network in Geneva and beyond. They enrich the MTJ programme by widening our students’ perspectives and knowledge of topics related to transitional justice (TJ) and practical challenges related to TJ processes.
The master’s paper gives students an opportunity to investigate a subject of special interest to them, deepening their knowledge and expertise through research as well as exchanges with experts, scholars, and practitioners.
In the second semester, students have the opportunity to go on a study trip to familiarize themselves with the history of transitional justice.
- Courses on theoretical and practical frameworks relevant to transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law
- Writing of a master’s paper
- Internships with leading organizations
- A degree in law or an equivalent degree in a field relevant to transitional justice, such as international relations, political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology or history
- A solid academic record
- A demonstrable interest in transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law (professional experience, internships, summer schools, conferences attended, publications, etc.)
- A sound command of English. You must be able to show, via a recognized test, that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at the Geneva Academy. This requirement does not apply if (1) your mother tongue is English; (2) you have taken an English-taught bachelor’s or master’s degree; (3) you have at least two years’ professional or academic experience in an English-speaking environment
I believe there is truly no other programme in the world like MTJ at the Geneva Academy. I chose this programme because it attracts highly-motivated students from all over the world, and I wanted to work within an international community and be exposed to different perspectives on transitional justice. Zoë Doss, student. Read her full testimonial here >>>