MAS in Transitional Justice: What our Alumni Say

30 January 2024

Claire An graduated from our Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) in 2019. As a Programme Officer at the UN Women Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality, she forms part of a team focussing on ending violence against women and implements research programmes that measure femicide and technology-facilitated violence against women.

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

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

The programme facilitates the integration of ‘theory into practice’. Beyond acquiring the needed theoretical knowledge, you can learn practical aspects of transitional justice and human rights. I gained a solid foundation in international human rights law and other international instruments and principles, which allowed me to apply them to various subjects within my career.

Another aspect of the programme is the opportunity to learn from distinguished scholars and practitioners. Professors are not only academic scholars but also practitioners actively engaged with the United Nations (UN). I was inspired by their hands-on experience in navigating numerous conflict or post-conflict situations.

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

I’m working as a Programme Officer at the UN Women Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality. Under the Research and Data team, I plan and implement research-related activities. My team takes the lead on ending violence against women (EVAW) and gender statistics. For EVAW, our focus is measuring femicide and technology-facilitated violence against women, while providing training on strengthening gender statistics in Asia and the Pacific region. In this context, I am notably in charge of coordinating between UN agencies and various stakeholders and facilitating collaboration on these issues.

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

With a foundational understanding of human rights, I try to integrate rights-based approaches to programming. Before joining UN Women, I worked as a programme support officer at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Kosovo for about 2.5 years. In Kosovo, UNDP is designing and implementing transitional justice projects and I could therefore support the work with my knowledge and research experiences. I was aware of the pillars of transitional justice and what must be done, but I also found big discrepancies between the theory and reality! However, the principles and pillars serve as the guiding light, and I hope that I contributed to the ongoing reconciliation process.

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

The programme was very intensive!. I recall reading so many journal articles and books for my thesis and trying to keep up with the reading lists professors gave us. All these studies enabled me to pursue a career in this field, in the end! Also, the study trip was memorable: visiting the locations where genocides occurred and listening to experts in the research field rekindled the realization that we should never forget or allow the repetition of such atrocities.

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

The MTJ experience helped me shift my career path and develop professionally. I had the chance to do an internship at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva right after completing the programme, and as I mentioned before, work for UNDP in Kosovo.

Also, the networks that I built helped me greatly. At UN Women, I organized a three-day international conference on femicide and invited experts in the field. Given that my friends who graduated from the programme were working in various UN agencies, I reached out to them, and they connected me with the relevant experts. Thanks to them, the conference provided a platform for all experts and government officials to share knowledge on femicide measurement, statistical data gathering, and prevention. Therefore, for me, the programme was not only about the degree but also about building networks. I am planning to take this further!

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

I would definitely recommend this programme, especially to those who aspire to pursue a career in human rights and development-related fields. It will open up windows of opportunities both academically and professionally.


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