September 2025 - August 2026
Study Mode Full-time
Application start 4 November 2024
Application end 13 February 2025
Application end (with scholarship) 9 January 2025


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Core Courses

Core courses are mandatory and are spread over two semesters. They cover central theoretical and practical issues in the fields of transitional justice, human rights and the rule of law. Weekly tutorials given by our Teaching Assistants complement the core courses and allow students to revise and discuss concepts and issues addressed in class and prepare for exams. The core courses listed on this page represent those for the current academic year.

Introduction to Transitional Justice

Sévane Garibian

This course introduces the concept of transitional justice. It seeks to familiarize participants with the legal and ethical frameworks necessary for understanding, and critically engaging with, this ever-expanding field. What is transitional justice? Where does it come from? What is it and who is it for? How is it done? By which principles, norms and practices is it informed? In addressing these basic questions, the course proceeds in three parts. Part one provides an introductory discussion of the concept of transitional justice, its legal framework, and its mechanisms. Part two explores the regionalization of transitional justice in the African and Latin American contexts. Lastly, part three examines transitional justice practice through the lens of interdisciplinary studies on various contemporary issues in the field.

Victims and Human Rights Law

Clara Sandoval

This course aims to provide students with the foundations of international human rights law (IHRL) as well as with an understanding of transitional justice from a human rights law perspective. It will begin by laying the foundations of IHRL (both norms and machinery), including civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. This introduction to IHRL will ensure that students are able to make the necessary connections between this branch of international law, victims’ rights, and transitional justice, and learn well the tools available within it to work on transitional justice issues.

International Law and Transitional Justice: Mapping the Terrain

Sandra Krähenmann

This introductory course provides a mapping of the various fields of international law in order to give students a birds’ view on the relevant legal frameworks, their main rules relevant for transitional justice processes, their respective scopes of application, and their implementation mechanisms. The course will also look at state responsibility as a way to implement state obligations as opposed to individual criminal responsibility. The course serves as a basis for the more specialized courses of the MTJ programme on the various substantive fields of law, (i.e. international criminal law, displacement and international law, and human rights law). Throughout the course, a series of peace agreements, used in a broad sense, will be looked at in order to ascertain the practical relevance of the international legal frameworks that apply in transitions.

The Foundations of International Criminal Justice as a Component of Transitional Justice

William A. Schabas

Criminal justice is an important component of transitional justice. It involves the identification of individual perpetrators and their punishment, generally by significant periods of detention. This course addresses the aims and functioning of criminal justice, with a special focus on actors and institutions at the international level. In exploring the theoretical and practical dimensions of criminal justice, the course critically examines its place in transitional justice processes as well as its challenges and potential limitations when it comes to achieving democracy and peace.

Displacement and International Law

Vincent Chetail

This course will explore the interlinkages between displacement and transitional justice from the angle of public international law. The two fields are closely interconnected as transitional justice seeks to address human rights violations that are the main cause of displacement. Likewise, displaced persons are recognized by the international community as key actors of transitional justice and reconciliation in post-conflict settings. Despite their obvious interactions, the fields of displacement and transitional justice have remained largely disconnected from each other in both law and practice. This has been exacerbated by the fragmentation of the applicable legal regime among a broad range of instruments and disciplines (human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law, criminal law). Against this background, this course will provide a holistic approach to unpack the broad variety of international legal norms governing displacement and transitional justice. It will discuss the intersections between the two fields with a focus on the most salient issues at stake, including return and reintegration; restitution and reparation; displacement as a crime of international law; as well as the inclusion of refugees and internally displaced persons in formal and informal processes of criminal justice.

Truth Commissions

Howard Varney

Truth Commissions have become an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. In countries as varied as Peru, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Kenya, Tunisia and Colombia, truth commissions have played their parts in addressing both individual and collective violations and promoting guarantees of non-recurrence. This course aims to provide a comprehensive, multidimensional examination of these mechanisms, shedding light on the practical challenges they face. In engaging with these issues, the course seeks to address whether truth commissions remain valid and relevant post-conflict tools. It also exposes students to the practical realities involved in establishing and running such commissions, together with lessons learned. With the aim of linking theory with real-world perspectives, the course will also look to the future of truth commissions in a fragile and unstable world – and explore alternatives to formal truth-seeking. The course explores theory and practice by combining lectures and in-class discussions with practical exercises that deal with real live cases.

Violence, Memory and Transitional Justice

Julia Viebach

There has been a rush to commemorate human rights abuses globally, often referred to as memorialisation. This entails the establishment of memorial museums, statues, annual ceremonies, the renaming of streets or naming of state and educational institutions after victims, and the documenting and archiving of human rights abuses through transitional justice mechanisms. This course aims to critically examine these initiatives undertaken by international, state and civil society actors. It adopts a critical, interdisciplinary perspective to unravel the complexities, tensions and implications of memorialisation in transitional contexts. The course draws on a range of case studies, including Chile, Peru, Rwanda and Bosnia, to explore live debates in scholarship and practice concerning ‘localising memory’, the so-called ‘politics of memory’ and how far memory initiatives might contribute to, or even hinder, transitional justice processes.


Katia Papagianni

This course focuses on the intersection between peacebuilding and transitional justice. Peacebuilding relies on dialogue and engagement among various segments of society to establish shared understandings of the social and political realities facing a country. Compromise and willingness to engage are central to its success. Transitional justice relies on a number of approaches, ranging from legal to dialogue-based ones. The intersection between the two is crucial to the longevity and quality of peace in conflict-affected countries. Throughout these processes, the question of inclusivity and participation is central. Who can participle and whose voice is heard? How does the end of conflict impact, or not, gender relations within a country? Can peacebuilding bring meaningful social transformation for all members of society? The course will rely on the literature discussing recent trends in peacebuilding and inclusive peace processes, with attention to the intersection with justice.

Transitional Justice, Mental Health and Pshycological Issues

Brandon Hamber

Dealing with the past is a legal and political task but invariably this has social and psychological dimensions. A complex set of relationships exist between the recovery from political violence and the psychological processes that accompany widespread social change. Understanding this relationship can arguably strengthen transitional justice processes, and enhance psychosocial well-being in the society at large. Drawing on extensive personal experience in South Africa, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, as well the latest academic research, this course will examine the centrality of mental health issues in transitional justice, and the social, cultural, and identity issues involved in meeting the needs of victims, as well as addressing issues related to those who perpetrate violence. The course will also address issues such as truth, reconciliation, reparations, memorialization, and the role of civil society, through a psychosocial lens.

Reparations and Guarantees of non-Recurrence

Paola Gaeta

This course deals with two key pillars of transitional justice, namely reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. The course will begin with a theoretical introduction to the concepts of reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence under international law, and then it will discuss their implementation in transitional justice situations with a focus on some historical examples as well as more current initiatives. The course will then highlight the difference between the traditional and the transformative approaches to reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. The course will conclude with an analysis of the relationship of reparations with reconciliation and guarantees of non-recurrence, assessing whether they may pursue conflicting goals and objectives.