In countries such as Tunisia, South Sudan, Syria or Egypt, social protest movements have been at the forefront of demands for political transitions and changes of regimes. Such movements have been, at times, violently repressed by the police or the army, putting an end to social protests or dragging the country into a violent armed conflict.
This online short course will examine the protection afforded by international human rights law in these contexts, with a specific focus on the right to peaceful assembly – which is at the heart of such movements –, and the right to life – which is often violated during such transitional moments. The course will also look at so-called violence reduction approaches and their role in complementing human rights approaches to violence.
More specifically, the course will address the scope and limits of the right to life and the right of peaceful assembly and their relevance and application in relation to the kind of violence that often accompanies transitions. It will also examine when the police may use force and the legal framework for the investigation of potentially unlawful death.
At the end of the course, participants will be familiar with:
- The international human rights framework protecting the rights to peaceful protest and the right to life in transitions, including General Comments (GCs) of the United Nations Human Rights Committee dealing with the right to life (GC 36) and the right of peaceful assembly (GC 37, currently in its first reading).
- Other legal frameworks applicable to police violence and potentially unlawful death
- Human rights approach to violence
- Alternative public health approaches to violence and violence reduction
- The practical relevance of the right to peaceful assembly in various transitional scenarios.
Christof Heyns is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria and Director of its Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa.
He is a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Professor Heyns is recognized internationally as a leading expert in the field of international human rights law, including on the right to life issues and regional human rights mechanisms, and has published widely on these matters.
This short course forms part of the Geneva Academy's MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ). It is open to professionals – diplomats, lawyers, legal advisers, judges, NGO staff, human rights advocates, media specialists, professionals working in transitions, UN staff and staff from other international organizations – who are not enrolled in the MTJ and who want to deepen their expertise in this specific issue.
The course will be conducted online using the ZOOM platform. The course will run for 14 hours, divided into six classes (each of two or three hours). It will be delivered through interactive seminars where participants will be expected to read the essential reading for the class and to participate in the classroom discussions.
Courses take place on:
- Wednesday 2 December, 12:15 – 14:00
- Wednesday 2 December, 15:15 – 17:00
- Friday, 4 December, 12:15 – 14:00
- Friday 4 December, 15:15 – 17:00
- Tuesday 8 December, 12:15 – 14:00
- Tuesday 8 December, 15:15 – 17:00
- Wednesday 9 December, 12:15 – 14:00
Fee informationThe fee for this short course is 1,250 Swiss Francs.
How to Register
Your application will need to include:
- A short motivation letter (no more than one page)
- Your curriculum vitae
- Proof of your competence in English (a certificate or statement highlighting your solid background in English)
Once admitted to the course, participants receive instructions on how to pay. Proof of payment is required before you begin the course.