29 January 2019
In this interview, Luisa Fernanda Gómez Betancur, currently enrolled in our Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ), tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.
I’m Luisa Fernanda and am from Manizales, Colombia, a city in the well-known coffee region in the Andean mountain chain. I started my career in law at the Universidad de Caldas and later on, I pursued specialized studies in constitutional law at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Before coming to Geneva, I worked for six years at the Constitutional Court of Colombia. During my time as a public servant, I notably dealt with cases related to environmental justice, the human rights of indigenous communities as well as the victims of the internal armed conflict.
All my life I’ve been fascinated with movement, and that might be the reason why I have danced since I was seven years old. It has been my happy place since then: it is my way to meditate in motion. In addition, I’m also a big fan of travelling.
Colombia is pursuing a transition to a post-conflict setting after large-scale political violence. The complexities of this kind of processes deal not only with legal dimensions but also social, political and cultural variables. The MTJ at Geneva Academy offers me an interdisciplinary platform to reflect in-depth upon tough questions about justice, peace or truth that form part of the transitional justice framework and whose understanding has critical implications for people’s lives in my country and in others regions as well.
I find fascinating to be part of a classroom with 27 fellow students from 25 different countries and being able to share different understandings and values of the world. In a way, every day the Geneva Academy, is a celebration of diversity.
One of the elements that create a holistic focus of the programme is the teaching. Professors at the Geneva Academy are not just rigorous from an academic perspective, but their experience and ‘on the ground’ exposure create an environment in which conversations, inquiries and discussions are granted an immense value; and as if that wasn’t enough, Geneva is by itself a huge classroom. Cultural and academic events offered in the city are limitless, and these offer an opportunity to further the learning experience.
Colombia is going through a historical transition full of hope, but also very fragile. Undoubtedly, I would like to be part of this process and contribute by using the academic and practical tools learned here which will allow me to face the complexity of this transitional process.
Public spaces in cities are shrinking and becoming more scarce. The Geneva Lake is a living example of public land that is valued collectively. The lake represents to me that powerful idea of communal goods.
Sandra Pointet/Geneva Academy
Students of our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law worked throughout the summer on their master’s paper, in which they addressed specific transitional justice topics.
After a reminder on mechanisms established by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional Protocols of 1977, the paper summarily frames the relationship between IHL and international human rights law and assess the competence and practice of political mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well as of universal and regional treaty-based mechanisms.
From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.
Truth Commissions are by now an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. This short course 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 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.
We are a partner of the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, housed at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre, which aims to map and analyse the human rights challenges and opportunities presented by the use of big data and associated technologies. It notably examines whether fundamental human rights concepts and approaches need to be updated and adapted to meet the new realities of the digital age.