LLM Students Spend Four Days in Belgrade to Discuss IHL and Human Rights with Local Actors

Map showing flight route from Geneva to Belgrade Map showing flight route from Geneva to Belgrade

14 March 2019

From 20 to 24 February 2019, students of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights travelled to Belgrade where they met experts and institutions who work in the fields of international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), and international criminal law.

‘The study trip is a great opportunity for our students to go the field and learn more about the work of civil society and international organization who implement on a daily basis the legal principles they’ve learned in class’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘The fact that the study trip is organized by the students themselves encourages them to learn more about the human rights and humanitarian challenges in the country and the role of various actors in addressing them’ he adds.

Discussing Field Work and Challenges

Students met with various actors – NGOs and international organizations – including Human Rights House, the Humanitarian Law Centre and the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Serbia which covers the entire region, namely Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Montenegro.

They learned about the work and daily challenges of these various institutions and discussed issues like war crimes prosecution in Serbia, institutional reform, reconciliation, promotion of human rights and the rule of law, integration of international humanitarian law in national legislation, collecting information on missing persons and families’ reunification.

‘Our trip to Belgrade was really interesting. We attended talks with different NGOs who work on IHL and IHRL issues. They were able to give us some fascinating insights into both the history and current legal climate in Serbia. It was great to spend a few days away from the classroom with the group, and experience the culture of Belgrade together’ underlines Grace Elizabeth Merry.

‘I found the presentations at the Human Right House and the Humanitarian Law Centre extremely interesting and straight to the point of what we are studying at the Geneva Academy. The extent to which they encounter difficulties in their work was astonishing. Both underlined that the sequels of the past are more than present and that nobody, even the historians are not ready to address the period of the Yugoslav wars or even earlier wars in a way which may lead to the pacification of the societies’ stresses Radoslava Georgieva Karabasheva.

‘I think our trip to Serbia was very successful. Being in a country that was torn by conflict had helped in bridging the gap between theory and practice. We were able to listen and discuss with different local and international NGOs working on the ground. Furthermore, they informed us about the humanitarian situation on the ground and how the armed conflict had affected the lives of the country. Lastly, the food and the different authentic cuisines had made our stay even better’ concludes Elias Issa Al-Hihi.

Cultural Visits

Students also had the opportunity to visit Belgrade, including the Opera, the International Film Festival, the Museum of Yugoslav History and Tito Mausoleum and the Belgrade Fortress.

They also discovered local food and restaurants, following the advice and recommendations of our Teaching Assistant Pavle Killibarda who comes from Belgrade.

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