The one-week long conflict over South Ossetia in August 2008 left lives, homes, and communities devastated and gave rise to numerous allegations of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL). In January 2016, the International Criminal Court authorized the opening of a formal investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor into the situation. On 21 January 2021, the European Court of Human Rights rendered a controversial judgment on human rights violations committed by Russia in this conflict.
In the framework of our LLM in IHL and Human Rights and the course on IHL given by Professor Marco Sassòli, students pleaded on 15 May for Russia and Georgia arguing that the side they represent has respected IHL while the adverse side has violated IHL.
In front of a jury composed of Professor Marco Sassòli and Lizaveta Tarasevich, an alumna of the Geneva Academy and Teaching Assistant at the University of Geneva, teams of two students (whose roles were attributed by the lot) pleaded on:
Twenty-two students pleaded in English, four others in French.
All students – with the exception of one who pleaded online from Ethiopia – could plead at Villa Moynier in front of the jury. When they did not plead, they could follow their comrades’ pleadings online in order to respect the sanitary measures enacted by the Swiss authorities.
LLM students who participated in the pleading on the 2014 Gaza conflict four weeks ago could also follow this session on South Ossetia online.
Professor Sassòli reports: ‘The students pleaded on a conflict, which is less well-known than that in Gaza, on which their comrades pleaded in April. They had nevertheless an admirable knowledge of the facts and delivered pleadings, which were powerful and engaged on the substance, but in a polite and not overly confrontational manner. Several groups obtained the best possible grades, including when they performed less successfully in past written evaluations. The fact that one student pleaded very successfully while her family home is under intense bombardment in Gaza deserves a special mention’.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
Professor Sassòli was in charge of the IHL part of the report that was presented on 13 April by the three experts to the OSCE Permanent Council.
Students of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and MAS in Transitional Justice who will graduate in October dedicated their summer to the writing of their LLM and MTJ papers – a key output of both programmes.
Joshua Hoehne, Unsplash
We look forward to welcoming our graduating students, their friends, families and our professors to the 2022 Graduation Ceremony.
This online short course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.
This online short course will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.