September 2022 - August 2022
Study Mode Full-time
Application start 29 November 2021
Application end 25 February 2022
Application end (with scholarship) 28 January 2022


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Core Courses

Core courses are mandatory and are spread over the 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 address in class and prepare for exams. 

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 closely examines transitional justice practice through the lens of interdisciplinary experts working on various contemporary issues in the field.

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.

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.

Criminal 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.

International Humanitarian Law in Transitional Phases

Annyssa Bellal

Contemporary international relations are not easily divided between situations of war and peace. Most conflict zones are murky and alternate between relative calm and episodes of violence. They are often regulated by a complex, sometimes contradictory web of international norms and political, social, and economic concerns. Research has also highlighted the increased presence of armed non-State actors of different types and ideologies in modern situations of armed violence. Engaging with these actors to protect civilians and resolve conflicts has become a necessity and can represent both an opportunity and a challenge. This course will address the following key questions: How can we build peace when violence is never far away? Can we involve armed non-State actors in peace and transitional justice processes without being constrained by counter-terrorism narratives, laws, and policies? Is it even possible to invest economically and politically in zones controlled de facto by non-State authorities, or restore stability and the rule of law, without alienating the de jure sovereign State?

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.


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.

Truth Commissions

Howard Varney

Truth Commissions are an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. In countries as varied as Peru, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Kenya and Brazil, truth commissions have been set up to investigate patterns of past human rights violations. This course will provide a comprehensive, multidimensional and practical examination of this transitional justice mechanism, shedding light on both its aims and practical challenges. It will address practically relevant questions on how to set up a truth  commission and the different roles such commissions can play in addressing both individual and collective violations and promoting guarantees of non-recurrence.

Transitional Justice in Contexts

Damien Scalia

The objective of the course is to understand transitional justice (TJ) through various contexts. Indeed, if TJ was quickly seen as a solution to make a transition and allow an alternative to criminal justice stricto sensu, its application differs greatly from one context to another: use of amnesty laws, recourse to alternatives to criminal law, processes of memory and writing of history, etc. Thus, after an introduction presenting these different critics addressed to TJ and various models, we will welcome specialists in the field, most of whom have participated in TJ institutions. They will present these institutions and complement the critical approaches by describing possible improvements.