7 December 2017
In this interview, Owiso Owiso, currently enrolled in our Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.
I am ‘a citizen of East Africa’ born to a Kenyan father and a Tanzanian mother. I hold a Bachelor of Laws Degree from The University of Nairobi and a Master of Laws Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the University of Pretoria. I briefly worked at the Kenyan Senate in Nairobi before going into private legal practice.
I like reading and writing and I also talk quite a lot! The less mundane things I do include stargazing and drinking wine (though good wine in Geneva is beyond my student budget)!
The Geneva Academy is renowned for its world-class expertise in transitional justice characterised by renowned academics and researchers and its close working relationship with relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. It is this robust academic, research and policy-development environment that attracted me. For anyone considering an international career in transitional justice and related fields, the Geneva Academy is your foot in the door!
The programme deeply engages students in the philosophical and academic approaches to transitional justice and exposes them to the practice of transitional justice through regular interaction with practitioners in Geneva and in the field. As such, the programme prepares students to be well-rounded professionals capable of navigating the complex field of transitional justice and making useful contributions towards the sustainable resolution of some of the most protracted challenges of our time.
The teaching methodology eschews traditional ‘lecture’ methods and instead combines innovative pedagogical methods with relevant practical engagements such as transitional justice clinics; transitional justice cafés; case simulations; and group assignments and presentations. Further, despite their hectic schedules, the professors always make time for students in need of further consultations. The point of this multi-pronged approach is to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
My desire is to contribute in a significant way towards sustainable peace, development and respect for human rights in the world. With the theoretical, research, analytical and practical skills gained here, I hope to join the United Nations or the African Union and positively contribute to their peace, accountability, humanitarian and human rights initiatives.
Geneva is the most multi-cultural and cosmopolitan city I have lived in; I get to meet people from diverse cultures and from almost all corners of the world. There is always something happening in Geneva (events, conferences, etc.), so every day is a learning and networking experience for anyone contemplating an international career!
Socially, however, Geneva is quite dull. Nonetheless, the student community in Geneva always finds ingenious ways of lighting up the city!
I spent a significant part of my childhood in a lakeside town in Kenya so I have a special attachment to lakes. Beyond the sentimental aspect, Lake Geneva is arguably the most beautiful thing in the city. Whenever I’m feeling a bit weighed down by the pressures of student life, I sit by the lake and take in its beauty and serenity; I think it has some therapeutic effect.
Our LLM students travelled to Belgrade and Pristina where they met a wide range of experts and institutions who work in the fields of international humanitarian law, human rights, international criminal law, transitional justice and migration. Alongside, they also had the opportunity to discover a new region and culture!
During a dedicated session, students of our Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law discussed thematic work in the field of transitional justice, how to start a career, career opportunities and skill required for the field.
This discussion follows the publication of the Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2019 by TRIAL International which focuses on the challenges of investigating and prosecuting mass crimes remotely.
Truth Commissions are by now an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. The 2019 Spring School will provide a comprehensive, multidimensional and practical examination of this transitional justice mechanism, shedding light on both its aims and the practical challenges it has met or is likely to meet.
This project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, investigated the relevance of international law in relation to such demands for reparation.
As a comprehensive attempt to ‘codify’ universal accountability norms, the UN Principles marked a significant step forward in the debate on the obligation of states to combat impunity in its various forms. Despite this significance, no comprehensive academic commentary of the 38 principles has yet been provided so far. This project seeks to fill this gap.