Our Former Teaching Assistant Alessandra Spadaro Successfully Defended her PhD Thesis

On Friday 4 June 2021, our former Teaching Assistant Alessandra Spadaro was awarded her PhD summa cum laude (avec félicitations du jury) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies after defending her thesis before Professor Andrew Clapham (her supervisor), Professor Paola Gaeta, and Professor Sandesh Sivakumaran (from Cambridge University).

Focus on Detention by Armed Groups in Non-International Armed Conflicts

While most of the existing scholarship focuses only on security detention or internment by armed groups in non-international armed conflicts, Alessandra Spadaro’s thesis – titled ‘In the Hands of the Rebels: Detention by Armed Groups at the Limits of International Law’ – also studies the detentions of armed group members by their own group and criminal detentions for crimes related to the conflict as well as common crimes.

In her thesis, Alessandra Spadaro studies which international law standards must be respected in order to protect individuals from arbitrary deprivations of liberty and how to interpret and apply them, vis-à-vis armed groups. Her findings are distilled into ten basic principles that should guide any form of detention by armed groups and that are simultaneously realistic for armed groups to comply with and sufficiently protective from the perspective of the detained individuals.

‘I hope to publish my thesis as a monograph soon and to continue studying how armed groups and other non-state actors can comply with international law rules aimed at the protection of individuals and their fundamental rights, including in situations of armed conflict’ says Alessandra Spadaro.

Alessdandra Spadaro with two of her thesis' supervisors: Professors Andrew Clapham and Paola Gaeta

Accompanying our Students during Three Years

Alessandra Spadaro worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Geneva Academy from February 2018 to February 2021, with a short break in 2019 when she spent a semester conducting research at Harvard Law School.

She assisted international criminal law (ICL) courses in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and taught bi-weekly tutorials to our LLM students on ICL. Alessandra also assisted courses on international humanitarian law, international human rights law and ICL in our Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict.

‘I am very grateful to Professors Robert Roth, Marco Sassòli and Gloria Gaggioli, under whose directorships I served, for giving me the opportunity to work at the Geneva Academy, which allowed me to fund my PhD and offered a great environment to grow as a researcher and teacher’ underlines Alessandra Spadaro.

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