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.
Olivier Chamard / Geneva Academy
Besides an in-depth study of various areas related to transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law, three different tracks – Thematic Focus, Clinical Work or Academic Research – allow students to pursue their particular interests.
During three days, students of our Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law immersed, via a practical exercise and in the context of the 2019 Spring School, in the design and establishment of a truth commission to address past human rights abuses.
Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Albie Sachs, Former Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, will reflect on the current human rights challenges and how to move the human rights agenda forward.
This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.
U.S. Mission Photo/Eric Bridiers
From 2012 to 2015 the Geneva Academy hosted the Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff.