Our 2021 Annual Report

30 May 2022

Today’s conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan or Mali are a stark reminder of the relevance of our mission – ensuring that the protection of individuals remains a central preoccupation of the international community at all times and is guaranteed by strong and relevant legal frameworks.

This is precisely what we pursued in 2021 and carry on today through our teaching and research on international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international criminal law and transitional justice.

Our 2021 Annual Report provides an overview of our activities, highlights, outputs and impact for the past year.

‘When looking back at 2021 and at what we have achieved, I am filled with a sincere sense of gratitude. I would like to wholeheartedly thank the Geneva Academy staff, our parent institutions, our Board, our Master’s Committee, our faculty, our numerous partners, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, numerous NGOs and individual experts and our donors. Their work, professionalism, energy, enthusiasm, trust, generosity, dedication and support have been fundamental. It is only with you that the Geneva Academy can make a difference’ says Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy

Some 2021 Highlights

The 14 highlights of our 2021 Annual Report detail our key achievements, work and outputs for the past year. These relate to our master’s programme, our research, our Geneva Human Rights Platform, and our participation in key processes and discussions on international humanitarian law, human rights and transitional justice.

We take you through half of them (seven) and invite you to discover the others in the report!

Maud Bonnet Joins the Geneva Academy as Executive Director

As Executive Director, Maud Bonnet works closely with our Director, Professor Gloria Gaggioli, and is in charge of the institution’s financial and administrative management. An alumna of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights, she brings extensive experience in both the management of large institutions and the humanitarian issues we address.

Our Alumni: The Emerging Voices in International Humanitarian Law, Policy and Action

Of the 20 articles published in the ‘Emerging Voices’ edition of the International Review of the Red Cross (no 914, December 2021) – which features emerging voices in the field of humanitarian law, policy and action – 10 are written by former Geneva Academy students.

This exposure in a leading publication reflects the calibre of our student body and the continuous involvement of our alumni in policy and legal debates pertaining to the protection of the most vulnerable during and following armed conflicts.

The published articles touch upon a variety of issues, including the protection of cultural heritage under IHL and Islamic law, armed escorts to humanitarian convoys from an IHL perspective and engaging armed groups for the protection of the environment during non-international armed conflicts.

Crowdfunding for a Scholarship

A one-month crowdfunding campaign carried out in February 2021 allowed us – thanks to the generous support of our alumni, partners and individual donors – to raise funds for a scholarship for the 2021–2022 academic year.

This partial scholarship – covering tuition fees – was allocated to LLM candidate Andrea Lafuente. It complemented the 28 scholarships, funded by our generous scholarship donors, that allow students with limited financial means to come and study at the Geneva Academy and ensure a broad diversity in our student body.

Guiding Armed Forces to Integrate a Disability Perspective into their Operations

Building on our path-breaking research on disability and armed conflict, our Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict provides practical advice and guidance to the armed forces on how to integrate a disability perspective into military manuals, the training of their militaries and, ultimately, their military operations. It responds to a crucial need to ensure that key IHL provisions that serve to minimize the impact of armed conflict – such as the proportionality assessment and advanced effective warnings – are applied in a disability-inclusive manner.

RULAC: A Unique Reference

An online survey conducted in 2021 highlighted the relevance of our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal – the only independent and public classification of armed conflicts – for policy-makers, diplomats, practitioners and researchers.

With an ever-increasing audience, RULAC currently monitors more than 110 armed conflicts involving at least 55 states and more than 70 armed non-state actors, constituting an essential tool and first step to monitor violations of IHL. Besides the updates to existing entries, five new non-international armed conflicts – taking place in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Ethiopia, Mozambique and Somalia – were added in 2021.

The Rights of Peasants in the New European Union Rules on Seed Marketing

In the European Union and EU Member States, seed laws and regulations have been designed to cater to the needs of the agricultural industry, and the rights of peasants have been largely neglected.

As the EU revises its legislation on seed marketing, our Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe – addressed to representatives of EU institutions and EU Member States, peasant organizations and seed networks – discusses how this right shall be taken into account in the future revision of EU rules on seeds. Its key findings are summarized in the Research Brief The Right to Seeds in Europe (also available in French and Spanish) and presented in a Geneva Academy submission to the European Commission.

Pilot Exercise Brings UN Treaty Bodies from Geneva to the Field

In December 2021, the Geneva Human Rights Platform, with the Commonwealth Secretariat, conducted in Sierra Leone a pilot of a UN treaty body (TB) focused review – a review carried out between the reporting cycles at the national level and designed to discuss how countries implement specific recommendations issued by UN TBs. This first test was, in the opinion of all participants, a success, showing the benefits that such a mechanism could bring to both the work of TBs as well as to the implementation of their recommendations.

2021 Facts and Figures

30 staff

38 professors and lecturers

2 Chairs

3 master’s programmes

More than 130 students from 43 countries

29 scholarships

30 training and short courses

17 research projects

22 publications

9 initiatives of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

71 events, seminars, conferences and expert meetings

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

Geneva Academy students