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Summer Schools for Human Rights and Legal Studies — 2016

It’s that time of year again, time to consider a great use of a week or two to acquire a higher level of expertise in a particular subject matter, meet and learn from experts in the field, and become acquainted with others from around the world who share your particular interest in a specific topic — summer school programmes. (more…)


Closed: First ICC Trial (Lubanga conviction and sentence upheld)

On Monday December 1, the trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) finally came to a close. In 2012, the first case ever tried at the first permanent international court resulted in a conviction and a sentence of 14 years in prison (less time already in custody awaiting and during trial). This decision was subject to appeal, and appealed it was by the defence who wanted a subsequent ruling on both the conviction and the sentence. Lubanga had been charged with the war crime of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities. He was convicted as a co-perpetrator.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

Photo of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, found at the ICC website.


The Curious Cases of Omar Khadr: Canadian Child Soldier and former-Guantanamo Inmate

However you look at it, Omar Khadr was a child (a person under the age of 18) at the time that US special forces soldier Christopher Speer was killed in Afghanistan in 2002. Khadr was 15 years old at the time of the firefight that killed Speer. The boy, who sustained serious injuries in the fighting, was transported from Afghanistan, eventually to Guantanamo Bay where he was charged with war crimes.


There is some question as to whether he committed the acts for which he was charged and pled guilty; with some arguing that “evidence surrounding his crime was questionable“. Nevertheless, even if he committed the act that killed the American soldier, the treatment of Omar Khadr has been harsh and inconsistent with human rights standards and the rights of the child.

Despite never being treated as such, Omar Khadr was a child soldier, an example of the great inconsistency of treatment of child soldiers around the world. The non-responsible child narrative (which claims that any child recruited to participate in war is a victim and not responsible for his or her actions) has been gaining great traction around the world, especially with the support of Western activists, including Western governments’ officials. (more…)

Summer Schools for Human Rights and Legal Studies — 2014

It seems it may be that time again, time to consider a great use of a week or two to acquire a higher level of expertise on a particular subject matter, meet and learn from experts in the field, and become acquainted with others from around the world who share your particular interest in a specific topic – summer school programmes.


Last year, I compiled and presented a list of programmes available in the summer of 2013, and it was so well received that I decided then that I would try to offer a yearly list for those searching for the right programme to compliment their interests and work.

Years ago, I attended a fantastic Summer School on International Criminal Law, offered by Leiden University, at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (the Hague). The small student body included a couple of university professors (whose work I still follow), practicing lawyers, and graduate students in law and related disciplines. The instructors included well-regarded leading scholars in the field of ICL, including William Schabas and Michael Scharf.

Here is the list of summer schools to consider for 2014.

Suggestions for additions to this list are welcome and appreciated. This will be updated as new information becomes available. Please also see last year’s list for ideas.

Also, please consider this winter school on Human Rights: (Now completed, but keep an eye out for a repeat next year.)

Thammasat University,
Bangkok, Thailand

17-22 November 2013

Continental Europe

Summer School on International Children’s Rights

Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, Leiden University

Leiden and The Hague

7 – 11 July 2014

Summerschool on Health Law and Ethics

Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

1 – 11 July 2014

Human Rights Law (16 June – 27 June 2014) and European Union Law (30 June – 11 July 2014)

Academy of European Law (AEL)

Transitional Justice, Conflict and Human Rights


7 – 11 July 2014

Antonio Cassese Summer School

Summer School in International Relations

Human Rights and International Law — 7 – 11 July 2014

Global Health and International Relations — 14 – 18 2014

Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations

Geneva, Switzerland

Summer School in Comparative Conflict Studies

The Center for Comparative Conflict Studies (CFCCS) at the Faculty of Media and Communications (FMK), Singidunum University

Faculty of Media and Communications in Belgrade

30 June 30 – 07  July 2014

Summer School on Human Rights, Minorities and Diversity Management



23 June – 02 July 2014

Summer School on Human Rights Litigation

Central European University


21 -25 July 2014

UK and Ireland

The Human Rights Law Centre Summer School on the Rights of the Child

University of Nottingham

23 – 27 June 2014

International Human Rights Law

University of Oxford

13 July – 9 August 2014

International Criminal Court Summer School

Irish Centre for Human Rights
National University of Ireland, Galway

16 -20 June 2014

Human Rights Law Centre Summer School

University of Nottingham

(No information yet for 2014 schedule)

North America

Summer Peacebuilding Institute 2014

Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA

5 May – 13 June 2014


The Human Rights Flex-Place Work Project

How to make a difference globally from anywhere — is it possible to build a flex-place human rights career?


Recently, a student came to me to discuss professional options and future plans. This student wanted to know about how to have a professional life that would build on his education in human rights, allow him to pursue his passions, and impact the world in a positive way, while at the same time not being forced to chase jobs or travel away from home in Canada for long periods and/or uproot his young family. He claimed not to want to work for a bureaucracy, and he didn’t want to be limited to local opportunities; rather, he wondered if there was a way to pursue a ‘global’ career without needing to uproot his family even once.

My thought is that in this world of electronic communication and flex-place opportunities, there must be many options available for a smart person to create a career working from any location and contributing to the betterment of policy, social understanding, and individual lives. If there can be on-line mediation, there must be a possibility of impactful distance human rights work (research, policy analysis, etc.), even when there are no employers within the city one lives.

The aim of the Human Rights Flex-Place Work Project is to collect stories and advice from people who have pursued a career in human rights that is not location-specific (either living in a city but working on issues the impact of which is meant to reverberate far away, or moving for reasons other than one’s own career and working globally on projects that are not tied to the location in which the person is living). If flex-place employment is the new frontier, there must be room for flex-place human rights work. Help me show this student and others what is possible.

If you have a story of your own experience or the experience of others, please share. If you know of job sites that offer such opportunities, please share. If you have advice, please share. If you have questions that others might be able to answer, please share these also. At first, comments can be sent directly to flexplacehr@gmail.com (and I will upload them here) or shared via the comments box. The plan, if there is sufficient material and interest, is to make a more permanent and accessible resource.

Thank you for your help.

For first comments, please see: The Human Rights Flex-Place Work Project.

Please join the conversation!

Is the ICC Losing the Perception Game?

International criminal justice has seemingly always had to contend with some very critical perceptions in regards to its legitimacy. Questions have always been there, reflecting either real lack of legitimate moral and legal authority or politically-inspired dismissal of post-conflict prosecutions. There seems, however, to be a troubling recent escalation of negative opinion of international criminal justice, specifically the International Criminal Court (ICC).


The first ‘international’ judicial mechanisms were the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals, established by the victors to address widespread atrocities committed during the Second World War. Meant as an endorsement and advancement of the rule of law, these tribunals were created as an alternative to the policy of summary execution for the major leaders of the wartime enemy that American, British and Russian policymakers supported and advocated for Nazi leaders. Although often considered international tribunals, these trials did not acquire legitimate authority through international sources or tenets of International Criminal Law. The legal basis for Nuremberg was established by the London Charter, which itself was developed under the authority of the Moscow Declaration of 1943. The Moscow Declaration was the result of the Moscow Conference, a meeting of the foreign ministers of three superpower states and war adversaries of Nazi Germany – Britain, the Soviet Union and the US. These trials, therefore, could arguably be regarded as little more than victors’ justice.

Since the Second World War, international criminal justice has evolved, becoming grounded in the legitimate authority of the UN Security Council or the membership-based Rome Statute of the ICC. In just over 10 years of existence, however, the ICC has not outgrown criticisms that might have once been attributed to the growing pains of an emerging institution. And, with growing negative press and the apparent lack of goodwill from the people for whom it operates, the ICC may be losing the perception game.


Canada’s ‘Genocide’ Stories: And a Country’s Attempt to Acknowledge and Heal


Last week the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) held a public event in Montreal. The event was a space for victims to tell their stories and for others to witness their truths. There were also opportunities to learn more of the history of residential schools in Quebec and the horrors that they inflicted. Also available was the opportunity for victims to ‘offer an expression of reconciliation’.

But, I get ahead of myself. Canada’s disgraceful 120 years of atrocity that ended less than two decades ago (after the end of apartheid in South Africa) is still relatively overlooked — globally, and in Canada. This is true despite the facts that the hidden truths of the Canadian residential schools system have slowly come to light, that Canada has offered an official apology, and that Pope Benedict XVI offered ‘his sympathy’ for the Catholic church’s involvement in this policy.

Between 1876 and 1996, Canada perpetrated a ‘genocidal’ policy aimed to eradicate the aboriginal culture, and arguably its population, across the country. Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their homes and relocated in residential schools where they were taught English, Christianity, and British or French culture; they were denied permission to learn or use their native languages or customs. Grave abuses were suffered by these children, including harsh corporal punishment and sexual abuse. Thousands of children were killed as a result of this policy that was implemented by the Canadian government and Canadian Christian churches. (more…)