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

22 January 2024

Andrew Botz graduated from our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in 2021. As a Human Rights Officer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, he supports investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the context of the armed conflict in South Sudan.

In this interview, he tells about the programme, fond memories and what it brought to his career.

In your opinion, what are the strengths of the programme?

Four strengths immediately come to mind. First, the faculty is comprised of leading academics and practitioners in international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights. It was a privilege to engage with them on a daily basis – I swear, years later I can still hear Professor Sassòli’s voice in my head every time I approach a complex IHL issue! Second, the programme offers a good balance between academic work like the LLM paper, and practical opportunities like internships and the IHL pleadings. This varied approach encourages students to develop a well-rounded skillset that is key to tackling real-world challenges. Third, the Geneva Academy is ideally located in the heart of Geneva, offering unparalleled networking opportunities. Lastly, but certainly not least, the student body is incredibly diverse and full of talented professionals from different corners of the world.

Tell us about your current job: what are your main responsibilities?

I currently serve as a Human Rights Officer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). As a member of the Conflict-Related Violence and Rapid Investigation Team at mission headquarters in Juba, I support investigations into alleged violations of IHL and human rights in the context of the armed conflict in South Sudan, and draft legal analysis for UN public human rights reports. You can read our joint UNMISS-OHCHR report, ‘Attacks against civilians in Greater Upper Nile, South Sudan’ here to get a clearer picture of the type of work we do.

How do you apply what you learned in class in your work?

I rely on my training from the Geneva Academy on a daily basis, especially in analyzing whether violations of IHL and human rights may constitute atrocity crimes in a particular context. Further, the programme instilled me with an appreciation for the interplay between IHL, human rights, and international criminal law, and the importance of approaching a legal question using multiple legal frameworks. This has proven especially helpful in the field where the issues are often messier than they are in the classroom.

Could you share some highlights or fond memories from your time in the programme?

My professional highlight would have to be my internship with the International Commission of Jurists, during which I had the opportunity to present oral remarks before the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. That was a surreal experience for me – walking into the Palais des Nations for the very first time and moments later delivering a speech with my face projected on the ‘big screen’. On a personal note, I will never forget all the great times with friends. Whether we were commiserating during a late night at the library, going on road trips to Annecy and the Matterhorn, or celebrating the end of exams at Les Bains de Paquis, we supported each other every step of the way.

In what way has this experience contributed to your professional growth?

The Geneva Academy completely changed the trajectory of my career. I initially developed a passion for IHL and human rights during my domestic law degree, but ended up working in corporate law. The LLM equipped me with the skills and network necessary to successfully pivot career tracks and pursue the work I love.

Would you recommend this programme to others considering similar career paths?

As someone who browsed the Geneva Academy website for years, reading testimonials like this before finally deciding to apply – don’t hesitate – apply today. The programme will provide you with the legal training and networking opportunities necessary to pursue a fulfilling career in IHL and human rights, and make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need.


An LLM class News

Apply to our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights!

27 November 2023

Applications for the 2024–2025 academic year of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights are open. They will run until 26 January 2024 for applications with a scholarship and until 24 February 2024 for applications without a scholarship.

Read more

Students at a Geneva Academy event News

Chats with Our Student Office: A Gateway for Prospective Students

24 November 2023

We organize online Q&A information sessions for prospective students interested in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

Read more