Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict: What Participants Say

19 March 2024

Ivana Kožar Schenck follows our online Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict. As a diplomat at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, she is in charge of human rights issues and leads the mission’s human rights team. She has been working, throughout her diplomatic career, on human rights and multilateral issues, in Geneva, New York and in her capital. During the Croatian membership in the Security Council in 2008–2009, she notably covered the issues of children and armed conflict, women, peace, security and the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

Can you describe your current job and primary responsibilities?

I am a diplomat working at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the UN in Geneva as the Head of the human rights team. My portfolio comprises civil and political rights, specific regions of the world and certain thematic issues. Some of my responsibilities include negotiating resolutions at the Human Rights Council (HRC), drafting statements, positions and UPR recommendations, following UN Treaty bodies, UN Special procedures and related human rights forums and meetings. In addition, I am in charge of our activities in the International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) Global Alliance for the Missing.

What motivated you to enroll in this programme?

After inquiring more information from a colleague who spoke highly about the Executive Master, I looked into the programme and found out if offers an in-depth knowledge of four main areas of international law, which happen to coincide with my professional and private interests. I was particularly interested in the module on international humanitarian law (IHL).

In what ways do you anticipate applying the specialized knowledge gained from this programme to your professional work?

Not only will this programme enhance my knowledge of relevant branches of international law, it will also help me respond with convincing arguments during drafting and negotiations of resolutions and other initiatives.

Which specific courses or topics within the programme do you find most relevant to your professional development?

Coming from a country that experienced armed conflict during the 90’s, I was particularly impressed with the influence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on the development of international criminal law. I very much enjoyed the lectures by Professor Gloria Gaggioli explaining the interplay between IHL and international human rights law. Although all professors were impressive, I was especially interested in Professor Kolb’s classes as they covered the core of IHL.

How has the diverse background of professionals in the programme enriched your learning experience?

The diverse background of participants really helped during smaller group exercises as we each brought a particular professional knowledge and experience. I appreciate being able to learn from seasoned ICRC delegates and other participants alike.

How do you manage to balance your professional responsibilities with the demands of online classes?

Being able to join classes online has been the key to my participation in the Executive Master. Although I was not always able to follow classes in real time due to work responsibilities, there were recordings available soon after, which was very important for my studies.

How do you foresee the Executive Master contributing to your career advancement, especially in acquiring additional responsibilities or moving your career forward?

I believe the investment in the Executive Master will open many doors for me, whether I continue working in human rights or if I transplant myself to the humanitarian side of things. There is more and more IHL language in the HRC initiatives, which makes it important to master the difference and to recognize connections between them. In addition, the Executive Master allowed me to connect to some very inspiring people, both within the student community and among professors. I am very pleased with my choice and I would highly recommend it.

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