Students Explore Contemporary Legal Challenges in Armed Conflicts, Human Rights and Transitional Justice

5 September 2023

Students enrolled in our two full-time programmes – LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) and Master in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) – have to work, during the summer, on their LLM and MTJ papers, the final component and a core output for both programmes.

The papers aim to allow students to investigate a subject of special interest and deepen their expertise through research as well as exchanges with experts, scholars and practitioners. They promote academic excellence and independent critical thinking and are written under the supervision of a faculty member, they investigate a subject of special interest and deepen their expertise through research as well as exchanges with experts, scholars and practitioners.

Our LLM and MTJ students are not the only ones to work on those research-oriented papers. Participants in our part-time online Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict have also to write a similar academic paper.

‘These papers are an opportunity for our students and participants alike to apply what they have learned in their various courses to specific situations, reflecting on the protection afforded by existing legal frameworks, potential gaps and how to address them’ says our Head of Education Dr Clotilde Pégorier.

A series of prizes will distinguish the best papers from our three programmes at the October Graduation Ceremony: stay tuned!

LLM Papers: From Armed Non-State Actors to Accountability Questions

A series of papers address the obligations and responsibility of armed non-State actors (ANSAs), including their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) in relation to food security, hunger and starvation, the role of financing sources in their compliance with IHL, detention by ANSAs or whether their forced recruitment of indigenous children can be considered as a genocide.

Others address issues related to accountability and international crimes, including the legal status of children born of international crimes, the nexus requirement and its application to sexual violence as a war crime, or the genocide of Hazaras in Afghanistan.

Several papers also delve into counter-terrorism questions like children's statelessness and the effects of depriving foreign fighters of their nationality, UN peacekeeping operations and counter-terrorism, and the impact of counter-terrorism policies and practices on freedom of religion or belief.

On human rights, papers notably deal with states’ positive international obligations to prevent and investigate enforced disappearances, safeguarding human rights during states of emergency or the duty to prevent torture and the due diligence obligation related to the trade of surveillance technology.

‘Besides their intrinsic value, these papers offer an interesting look at the concerns and priorities of tomorrow’s humanitarian and human rights experts and practitioners’ explains our Head of Education Dr Clotilde Pégorier.

MTJ Papers: From Reparations for Environmental Damages to the Influence of Social Media on Political Memory

Current challenges – like the war in Ukraine or the climate crisis – prompted MTJ students to delve into related topics by addressing temporary protection mechanisms for Ukrainian displaced persons within the European Union (EU) or the role of international law in addressing reparations for environmental damages.

Other topical issues include reparation strategies for human rights violations arising from cyber operations within fragile states, naturalization as a form of reparations for mass atrocities, the evolving influence of social media on political memory, the use of faith-based transitional justice (TJ) approaches as potential vehicles for reconciling religious communities or colonialism and its connection to EU asylum procedures.

‘As in previous years, most papers address a specific TJ issue in context, in countries like Afghanistan, Austria, Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Ukraine. This reflects the diversity of our students and their interest in linking theoretical concepts and debates to practical problems and situations’ underlines Dr Clotilde Pégorier.

Executive Master Papers: Delving into Current Challenges in Armed Conflicts

Several papers look at legal issues arising from the war in Ukraine, including the prosecution of the crime of aggression, freedom of expression in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and the legal framework applying to foreign fighters in Ukraine.

Others discuss legal questions related to ANSAs like the impact of their fragmentation on conflict classification, the ambiguity of private military contractors and challenges for international legal responsibility, or the fight against cartels and gangs in Mexico and Central America.

A series of papers delve into the challenges related to the digitalization of armed conflicts, including the right to privacy and data protection in armed conflicts or the rise of digital open-source information in evidentiary processes at the International Criminal Court.

In relation to counter-terrorism, papers notably look at the protection of children associated with terrorist groups, the extent to which states can derogate from their international obligations under IHL, international human rights law and customary international law in countering terrorism, and whether new regulations are needed to address new and evolving methodologies, weapons and tactics used for counter-terrorism.

Other topical questions include civilian protection in modern warfare, the protection of the environment in armed conflicts, the engagement of the United Nations Security Council in the implementation of international humanitarian law or international responsibility and IHL in the context of peacekeeping operations.

‘As professionals dealing with humanitarian and human rights issues or working in zones of conflicts, participants in our Executive Master are well placed to identify the many challenges that arise in armed conflicts and other situations of violence – as shown by the relevance of their papers’ explains Dr Pégorier.


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