MAS Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law
PeriodSeptember 2021 - August 2022
FormatOn-site – switch over to online-learning if required
Registration deadline26 February 2021
- 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
- Core courses throughout the year on human rights, rule of law, institutional reform, social transformation, and criminal justice
- A year-long focus on practical issues and cases
- An Advanced Spring Course that addresses cutting-edge issues in transitional justice
- Tailored-made Spring Tracks during the second semester: academic research, clinical work or thematic focus
- The writing of a master’s paper
- A study trip to familiarize with the history of transitional justice
Prof. Frank HALDEMANN and Thomas UNGER, 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 with
The Master of Advanced Studies 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. Combining theoretical knowledge with real-world perspectives and a cross-disciplinary approach, it focuses on developing practical skills to address current challenges in this field.
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.
During the Spring Semester, MTJ students can choose between three different tracks. Those who want to deepen, broaden and diversify their knowledge in particular thematic areas can attend two thematic courses during the Spring Semester via the Thematic Focus track. Clinical Work, in the form of research internships or participation in a moot court, provides a solid exposure to practical work. Students interested in academic research can follow the Academic Research Track to get familiar with the the tools of academic research and participate in peer-discussions about complex theoretical issues within the field of transitional justice.
Throughout the year, MTJ students have access to a world-renowned faculty, benefit from direct connections with leading actors and share ideas with other talented participants from an array of different backgrounds and perspectives.
THE LAW AND ETHICS OF TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE
What might ‘coming to terms with the past’ mean when societies emerge from civil wars or oppressive regimes? What does justice ‘in transition’ entail and how can it be achieved in such extraordinary circumstances? How can we meaningfully speak of reconciliation in such contexts? And what does international law prescribe with regard to these situations? This introductory course explores the legal and ethical frameworks of transitional justice. It also provides an introduction to the history and concept of transitional justice and to current debates revolving around the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ of transitional processes.
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE: MAPPING THE TERRAIN
Various fields of international law play a role during transitional justice processes, ranging from international criminal law to address crimes committed by individuals, to international human rights law, for example in relation to reparations. In addition, while originally transitional justice processes took place during the transition from authoritarian regimes to democracy, nowadays many such processes take place in the aftermath of an armed conflict, during an armed conflict or between successive armed conflicts. In such situations, an additional legal regime, international humanitarian law, imposes obligations not only on states, but also armed non-state actors. Thus while transitional justice is often framed around redressing human rights violations, against the background of armed conflicts, international humanitarian law is also relevant. Finally, accountability for past atrocities, whether in peace time or times of armed conflict, plays a crucial role in transitional justice. Yet, the focus tends to be on the accountability of individuals, in particular individual criminal responsibility, rather than collective accountability, such as in the form of state responsibility."
PEACEBUILDING, TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE AND GENDER
This course focuses on the intersection between peacebuilding, transitional justice and gender. 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 participate 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.
THEMATIC FOCUS (PICK 2)
CIVIL SOCIETY AND TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE
The role and engagement of civil society in transitional justice are ever-developing, with practices and lessons learned over time confirming the essential role that civil society actors play in prompting, engaging in and ensuring the sustainability of transitional justice processes. This course takes a primarily practice-based approach to the subject and will be of importance and value to those from a civil society background, those wishing to work within civil society organizations and those with an interest in the transformative potential of civil society actors. The course will begin with examination of civil society as a transitional justice actor, providing a broad base for in-depth consideration of further issues; it will explore three particular modalities of action in detail (monitoring and documentation of human rights violations; engaging with supra-national mechanisms; and strategic litigation); and will conclude with an assessment of project cycle management, an increasingly vital aspect of the functioning of NGOs today.
THE RULE OF LAW IN PRACTICE
What is ‘the rule of law’ and why is it considered important for economic and democratic development? How has rule of law development assistance evolved over the last half-century and what are its antecedents? How are rule of law programmes designed, what are their typical components, and how is their impact measured? This course considers rule of law work from the perspective of the practitioner, using case studies, procurement documents and project reports to help students understand how rule of law projects are developed and implemented in the field. The course also considers scholarly critiques of rule of law assistance, allowing students to evaluate the operational features of such assistance within a broader analytical framework.
ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES IN INTERNATIONAL LAW
This course examines the existing international legal framework and jurisprudence on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance. While the main focus is international human rights law, references are made, where pertinent, to international humanitarian law and international criminal law. During the course, the nature, definitions and consequences of the offence of enforced disappearance are analysed and the international legal framework aimed at preventing and punishing it is considered in depth, discussing the potential pitfalls, and the problems in interpretation and application. The examination of the mandate and the functioning of the main international human rights mechanisms dealing with enforced disappearance are a central part of the course. Special attention will be devoted to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The case law on enforced disappearance developed by the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will also be presented and discussed, to single out landmark judgments and interpretative discrepancies, as well as legal problems that remain to be addressed.
DISPLACEMENT, INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE
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.
SEXUALITY, GENDER IDENTITY AND INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN AND HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
This course gives an overview of the role of sexuality and gender identity in international human rights law (e.g. persecution, discrimination, harassment etc.) and international humanitarian law (e.g. sexual violence). Among other things, it will present the existing treaties in the field that address these aspects and will look at existing problems and loopholes. The course also provides an overview of the ‘Jogjakarta Principles’ and recent initiatives by the United Nations (UN) Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. A special emphasis will be put on the taboos in the international discourse and the role of non-state actors, as presented in the UN Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people.
CLINICAL WORK (PICK 1)
Research internships with leading actors like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs' Task Force for Dealing with the Past or the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) allow selected students to acquire first-hand professional experience and put in practice what they learn in class. Students are accompanied during the entire duration of their research internships via seminars that provide peer-to-peer support and exchange of ideas.
NELSON MANDELA WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS MOOT COURT COMPETITION
The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is organized by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The pre-final and final rounds take place every July at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The best 10 teams from each UN region argue two-sides of a hypothetical case on issues of international human rights law before a ‘bench’ of human rights experts and judges from international courts and tribunals.
Two MTJ students can participate following a competitive selection process carried out by a Geneva Academy jury.
The academic track is designed to provide students with an interactive platform for academic research and critical debate. This track is addressed to students having an interest in pursuing academic research. The aim is to introduce students to the tools of academic research and to stimulate peer-discussions about complex theoretical issues within the field of transitional justice.
The track combines introductory sessions on the aims and methodology of academic research with seminars where students present and discuss their research proposal. Moreover, the track includes an academic debate session allowing students to critically engage with controversial issues and questions and to take on the role of advocates or critics of particular strands of argument or positions.
The Geneva Academy does not offer PhD programmes. Yet, a number of graduates have been accepted in PhD programmes at the University of Geneva, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and other universities.
- 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
- Clinical work
- 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 >>>