LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: What our Alumni Say

Portrait of Antonio Coco Portrait of Antonio Coco

16 February 2021

Since January 2020, Antonio Coco is a Lecturer at the University of Essex’s School of Law, where he teaches a variety of courses on international law.

After his LLM at the Geneva Academy, he started his PhD in International Law at the University of Geneva, which he completed in 2019. In the meanwhile, he had taken up a position as Lecturer in International Law at the University of Oxford, where he taught for two and a half years and maintains a fellowship at the Oxford Institute of Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. His current research mostly follows two strands: international law applicable to information and communication technologies, and international criminal law.

What are the Strengths of the Programme?

The LLM programme at the Geneva Academy has many strengths. Three stood out for me: the programme’s architecture which builds in students an extremely solid foundational knowledge of public international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law; the personal quality of the teachers, who are able to inspire in addition to transmitting knowledge; and the class spirit, animated by the motivation and passion of all the students.

How was Teaching?

Teaching at the Geneva Academy LLM was among the most effective I have ever experienced. I appreciated, in particular, that most teachers attempted to spark an independent way of thinking in the students, rather than giving them pre-made answers.

The connections between the relevant rules of international law, and the rationale behind them, was constantly highlighted. We were exposed to a way of thinking about international law as a tool for positive social change. In addition, tutorials — led by incredibly skilled and well-prepared teaching assistants — were crucial to contextualize the lectures and exploring the practical application of what we had learned in class.

Your Best Memories of the Programme?

I have countless special memories of the programme but, if I had to choose one, I would have to choose the class trip to Bosnia. It was an unforgettable bonding experience for us as a class and gave us a chance to speak with people who had directly experienced the war which came up so often in our classes. In incredibly emotional moments, among others, we visited the site of the Srebrenica massacre and portions of the tunnel which allowed people and goods to get in and out of sieged Sarajevo.

What Did it Bring to your Career?

The LLM at the Geneva Academy gave me the tools to embark into my PhD, which concerned the defence of mistake of law in international criminal law, and laid the bases for the knowledge which, years later, I shared with my students at Oxford and I am still sharing with my students at Essex.

In addition, the Geneva Academy was my very first academic network and allowed me to get to know scholars and practitioners with whom I have then collaborated after my LLM. In particular, the LLM internship programme allowed me to work for a while at the United Nations International Law Commission and at TRIAL International, giving me an early chance to see international law in action.

Do you use what you learned in class in your work?

I use what I have learned at the Geneva Academy every single day of my professional life. After all, I seamlessly kept researching on and teaching in the same areas which were part of the LLM curriculum. In addition, the teaching style and professionalism of my LLM professors still informs my teaching practice to date.

Would you Recommend It?

Wholeheartedly. It was a defining moment not only for my career but for my growth as a person.

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