UNICRI and the University for Peace (UPEACE) hosted a hybrid Opening Ceremony to celebrate the selected 40 participants from 21 countries, embarking on a unique learning journey: 5th edition of the Master in Laws (LL.M.) in Transnational Crime and Justice 2021-2022.
Through a combination of lectures, seminars, and practical exercises over the next few months, the LL.M. in Transnational Crime and Justice will equip the students with knowledge and tools to support international justice and contribute to the global fight against transnational crime. The Master’s programme will prepare them to advocate for criminal justice and accountability as key factors to achieve peace, security, human rights, and development for all.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Opening Ceremony proceeded in hybrid form. Those who attended in person gathered at the United Nations Campus in Turin (Italy), a crossroad for training and knowledge sharing.
As moderator, Mr Leif Villadsen, Deputy Director of UNICRI, welcomed the attendees. “We are keen to empower the next generation."
Ms Antonia Marie De Meo, Director of UNICRI, addressing the students, said: "This LL.M invests you, a new generation of students, with the tools and approaches you will need to identify, prevent, and respond to transnational crimes. It reflects our belief that education and employment are the best investments a society can make in its future."
Joining online from The Gambia to address the students, keynote speaker Ms Fatou Bensouda, who served as the first female International Criminal Court Prosecutor and Chief Prosecutor between 2012 and 2021, shared her experience and explained the mandate of the International Criminal Court (ICC). She described the ICC's history of successful convictions and cases investigated across the four continents. Furthermore, her office achieved several significant litigation successes and landmark decisions.
Ms Bensouda highlighted two examples to illustrate that developing international criminal law jurisprudence is equally as crucial as securing convictions for the ICC office.
"We have managed to secure important convictions that do not only contribute to delivering justice to victims of mass atrocities but also the development of international criminal law jurisprudence. For example, in the Ntaganda case [The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda], emanating from the investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, my office secured the conviction of the accused on all counts, including for the first time in the court's history, on the crime of sexual slavery, as well as on the crime of rape against women and men. And through this case, we have contributed to emerging jurisprudence by extending the protection under international humanitarian law also to cover crimes committed by an armed group against members of their own group. Likewise, the Al-Mahdi case [The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi], following my office's investigations into the situation in Mali, sends a clear message that the intentional attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion are serious crimes under international law."
With respect to accountability, Ms Bensouda added: "It came to be universally believed that human rights and the dignity of each one of us must be protected. For the dignity of that individual is also for the good of all. In our times, humanity no longer accepts that victims of gross human rights violations suffering in silence. We, as people and nations of the world, embrace the notion that no longer should the perpetrators of the world's most infamous crimes be allowed to escape justice."
Concluding her keynote address, Ms Bensouda reiterated: "The universal values of human rights and the cause for ending impunity for mass crimes will increasingly define this century. And I am confident that with the strong, consistent, and vocal support of all those dedicated to these important aims, we can usher in a world that is less conflict-prone and more respectful of the fundamental human rights of its inhabitants in all four corners of the globe. This is not too much to ask. This is a necessity."
In her closing thoughts, Ms Bensouda addressed the LL.M students: " I urge you all to continue our efforts in our collective fight for human rights, to pool our efforts and work jointly to send a firm but consistent message that humanity stands united in the fight against impunity and perpetrators will be held accountable. This is a challenge that no state law, institution or individual can face alone. Our responsibilities remain great, but our resolve must endure. I wish you a successful academic year ahead."
Other contributing panellists and experts were:
- Mihir Kanade, Professor, Director of the Human Rights Centre and Co-Coordinator Master of Laws in Transnational Crime and Justice, UPEACE
- Michela Favaro, Deputy Mayor, City of Turin
- Roberto Ruscello, Judge, Tribunal of Turin
- Mr. Emilio Gatti, Prosecutor, Tribunal of Turin
- Ms Barbara Porta, Attorney-at-Law, Turin Bar Council
- Mr Antonio Del Gaudio, Colonel, Director of the Post-Conflict Operations Study Centre, Italian Army
The graduation ceremony is planned for 22 July 2022.
About the LL.M
The Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Transnational Crime and Justice is designed for professionals and university graduates wishing to specialise in international law dimensions of peace and conflicts, transnational crimes and transitional justice, humanitarian law, international criminal law and procedure, and international human rights law.
Read more about the LL.M. on our website.
Visit our UNICRI Flickr account here to see the images from the LL.M. Opening Ceremony
Follow us on Twitter @UNICRI