Our 2020 Annual Report

The past year has been a demanding year for all of us. It implied, for an academic institution like ours, to adapt all our activities to the online format almost from one day to the next. Besides the related challenges, this exceptional situation allowed us to innovate, expand our audience and activities, and show the continued relevance of our mandate.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have ensured the continuation of high-quality and interactive teaching for our three master’s programmes via different teaching options and methods adaptable to the health situation: fully on-campus, fully online or hybrid with on-site and online teaching.

Throughout this uncertain and difficult period, we also have been at the forefront of facilitating key discussions and providing expert advice on human rights and humanitarian impacts of the pandemic.

Our 2020 Annual Report provides an overview of our activities, highlights, outputs and impact during this special year.

A person with a Geneva Academy bag in front of Villa Moynier

‘All of this would be impossible without the contributions of many, including our staff, our two parent institutions – the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the University of Geneva –, our board, our faculty made up of exceptional and renowned professors; our students who remained highly motivated and studied intensively despite the difficult circumstances, our numerous partners, and our donors’ says Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘Thanks to all of you, the Geneva Academy contributes to locating respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law at the centre of the international community’s preoccupations and enhancing the legal protection of the most vulnerable in all circumstances’ she adds.

A Glimpse into Some of our 2020 Highlights

The 14 highlights of our 2020 report detail some of our key achievements, focus and developments in 2020. They show both our impact, influence on key processes and discussion, as well as our fundamental role in knowledge transfer to ultimately protect the most vulnerable. We take you here through six of them!

Our New Director: Professor Gloria Gaggioli

Professor Gloria Gaggioli, a renowned scholar in international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights, became the Director of the Geneva Academy in August 2020, replacing Professor Marco Sassòli who led the institution during two intense and productive years.

In this role, Professor Gaggioli provides vision and guidance to anchor the Geneva Academy as a centre for academic excellence that provides high-quality education, training and research in branches of international law that relate to situations of armed conflict, protracted violence and protection of human rights.

Portrait of Professor Gloria Gaggioli

Distance Learning for our Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict

Our Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict and its short courses are now also open to practitioners in the field interested in following this part-time programme online.

For the 2020–2021 academic year, 26 professionals based in Australia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, India, Kenya, Palestine, Peru, Syria, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States chose this option. Journalists, humanitarians, field delegates or legal advisers, they work for the Danish Refugee Council, the ICRC, MINUSCA, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Ukraine, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the UN in Syria.

The Digitalization of Armed Conflict

Via a multi-disciplinary approach that takes into consideration the interrelated technical, military, ethical, policy, legal and humanitarian aspects, this new research – carried out jointly with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – assesses the continued relevance of international law, especially IHL, in light of the humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts.

Armed Non-State Actors’ Interpretation of Core IHL Norms

According to the ICRC, 60 to 80 million people live under the direct state-like governance of armed non-state actors (ANSAs).

As a leading research institution for this issue, our new research – funded by UK Research and Innovation and carried out in collaboration with Geneva Call, the American University in Cairo and the Norwegian Refugee Council – examines ANSAs’ practice and interpretation of core IHL norms.

Members of an armed group, DRC

Anchoring the Sustainable Development Goals in Human Rights

Time is running out to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind. Practitioners and experts recognize the key role that human rights play in furthering the implementation of the SDGs and creating a much-needed accountability framework.

Our dedicated training course and our new practical manual on this issue outline the key role of United Nations human rights mechanisms and the guidance they provide in monitoring the implementation of the SDGs that seek to realize economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to food, water, health, education and housing.

Inputting into the Final Stage of the UN Treaty Body Review

Since 2015, we have been one of the key actors in this process, providing both substantial inputs to improve the work of UN treaty bodies (TBs) as well as a platform for discussion among academics, civil society, states, UN staff and TB experts.

In the final stages of this review, our Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) submitted a number of concrete and easily implementable proposals and continued to provide a neutral space for discussion – a key role recognized and appreciated by all the stakeholders involved.

A session of the UN Human Rights Committee

2020 Facts and Figures

30 staff

32 professors and lecturers

2 Chairs

3 master’s programmes

30 scholarships

25 training and short courses

More than 120 students from 50 countries

82 events, seminars, conferences and expert meetings – 58 fully online

19 research projects

12 publications

6 initiatives of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

More than 80 partnerships around events, research projects and training courses

Geneva Academy staff at the 2020 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform