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In this issue: New cooperation with Dutch NHRI, research, teaching and training   Read online
SIM Newsletter Spring 2022, Issue 29
Cooperation SIM - Utrecht Law School - Dutch NHRI
On 16 of May, the existing cooperation agreement between SIM - Utrecht Law School and the College voor de Rechten van de Mens (the Dutch national human rights institution) was renewed in a festive ceremony. The new agreement was signed on behalf of the university by professor Ivo Giesen, head of Utrecht Law School, and on behalf of the College by its chair, Jacobine Geel. It was immediately put into practice by way of the annual get-together of the two institutions, in which staff from both sides debated about the rule of law, climate and migration, with pitches by amongst others Antoine Buyse, Janneke Gerards and Evelien Brouwer. Several former SIM staff and students now work at the College. We look forward to continuing the great bonds and linkages established with the College in the coming years!

Antoine Buyse, SIM director
SIM Impact
Meet the Professor

On 23 March, Utrecht University organised its annual Meet the Professor event. Antoine Buyse was one of the participating professors, visiting an Utrecht elementary school by bicycle in full formal gown. He discussed freedom and human rights in a class of eager 10- and 11-year olds full of questions.
Advice on Kosovo Council of Europe Membership

Since April 2022, Kushtrim Istrefi is advising the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs on accession of Kosovo to the Council of Europe. Kosovo is already a member of the Council of Europe partial agreements, the Venice Commission and Development Bank. On 12 May 2022, Kosovo applied for full membership in the Council of Europe.
Human Rights Education in El Savador

On 21 January, Felisa Tibbitts, at the invitation of UNESCO’s regional Latin American office, conferred with half a dozen ministry staff of the El Salvadorian Ministry of Education to discuss strategies for infusing human rights in history education in environments with a violent past, including post-totalitarian, transitional justice environments. Her examples drew from experiences in Peru and Guatemala, South Africa and Rwanda.
Operatie Breinbreker

On 30 April, Antoine Buyse participated in the science show Operatie Breinbreker [rack your brain] in Utrecht's TivoliVredenburg music hall. The event is an initiative of Utrecht University to enthuse children from 8 to 12 years old for research and discovery. A group of five researchers, including an art historian, a vet, a climate specialist, a medical researcher and Antoine as the legal scholar showed over 850 enthusiastic children which questions researchers rack their brains about. Antoine's part can be watched on youtube (in Dutch).
Champion of the Frits Kalshoven Competition 2022
Between 9-11 March 2022, Khanyi Mabeni, Giacomo Romis and Anandi Sweere – students of the LLM Public International Law (Conflict and Security) – took part in the Frits Kalshoven competition for International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The Frits Kalshoven competition is an annual event, jointly organized by The Netherlands Red Cross and Belgian Red Cross-Flanders. The team was coached in preparation for the competition by Katharine Fortin and Lucas Roorda.

This year, eight teams from universities in The Netherlands and Belgium took part. The team from Utrecht University won both parts of the competition: the role play competition and the moot court competition. The Utrecht team competed against Groningen University in the finals of the moot court competition, which were held in the Peace Palace in The Hague and were judged by a jury that included Liesbeth Lijnzaad, Alphons Orie, Christan de Cock.
Bulgaria Strengthening Human Rights Legal Education

The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice is strengthening its human rights legal education and organized a conference on this topic 28-29 April. Felisa Tibbitts joined other international speakers, such as Prof. dr. Manfred Nowak, Secretary-General of the Global Campus on Human Rights, in sharing experiences from abroad. Her presentation focused on the rights-based approach to higher education and clinical legal education. As a result of this engagement, several members of the Ministry of Justice will be attending SIM’s summer school course Introduction to International Human Rights Law.
The Rise of Anti-Gender Movements Webinar

On 12 April 2022 and as part of the Proud and Safe project, coordinated by Lorena Sosa, four experts came together from different geographical and institutional contexts to take part in a discussion on the rise of anti-gender movements and their impact on the protection of women. The discussion encompasses several perspectives from the Council of Europe, civil society, the EU framework, the Americas and finally, the United Nations. More information can be found here.
Utrecht Young Academy

In February 2022, Katharine Fortin was announced to have been selected as one of the new members of the Utrecht Young Academy. This year, potential candidates could be nominated by deans, education vice-deans, directors of strategic programmes, PhD-councils, and former and current members of the Jonge Akademie – KNAW. The Utrecht Young Academy (UYA) is a select group of enthusiastic and ambitious young academics at Utrecht University. Operating as an independent organisation within the university, the UYA aims to exchange critical perspectives on academia, policy, and society in Utrecht and beyond. During her five year term as a member of the UYA, Katharine hopes to work on issues relating to open science, academic freedom and interdisciplinarity.
Brianne McGonigle Leyh

The Centre for Academic Teaching has appointed Brianne McGonigle Leyh as a Senior Fellow, starting in September 2022. Connected closely to her research, she will establish an Open Source Investigations Lab that will bring students, teachers/researchers, and societal partners together to work towards addressing key global challenges. An important aspect of the project will be promoting knowledge exchanges within and beyond the university. Additionally, per 1 September 2022, she will step down from the management team of the Centre for Global Challenges and take up a new role as director of Masters education in the Law School. She looks forward to the challenges ahead and working with all the great teachers in the Law School! 
New Chair EDI Committee 

As of April this year Alexandra Timmer is the chairperson of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee of the UU’s Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. In that capacity she is also member of the UU EDI Steering Committee. The EDI Committee aims to accelerate equality, diversity and inclusion at the University in teaching, research and institutional matters.
SIM Research
Transitional Justice in the US

On 10 June, Brianne McGonigle Leyh took part in the 9th Annual Conference of the Historical Dialogues, Justice & Memory Network organized by the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. The theme of the conference was ‘Beyond Nuremberg: The Global Search for Accountability’ and Brianne spoke on a panel dedicated to ‘Expanding the Global Search for Accountability to Aparadigmatic Cases’. She presented a book chapter related to transitional justice in the United States of America.
EDC-HRE Conference

On 11-13 April, Felisa Tibbitts was General Rapporteur at Education for Democratic Citizenship Education and Human Rights Education (EDC-HRE) conference. The aim of the conference was to learn and share practices addressing both formal and non-formal education strategies for working with and supporting youth in active citizenship and engagement in human rights. She presented some initial reflections, including an ongoing potential and need for cross-sectoral cooperation in EDC-HRE, at the local, national and regional level and the prioritization of HRE for marginalized groups. For more information about the conference, click here.

Rule of Law from Below in Leuven

On 17 and 18 May, Antoine Buyse and Brianne McGonigle Leyh visited the University of Leuven, Belgium, to present on 'The Rule of Law from Below Concept and Practice, Including by Universities' (based on earlier research within Montaigne-SIM and published in the Utrecht Law Review) to researchers at the Faculty of Law and Criminology. The also participated in the doctoral meetings of a Leuven PhD researchers, from whom they are on the external accompanying doctoral committee.

Access to Justice and EU Migration

On 2 June, Salvo Nicolosi and Elmin Omičević presented their joint paper on Access to Justice and EU migration agencies at the International Conference of the Jean Monnet Network on enforcement of EU law (EULEN) ‘The EU Migration, Border Management and Asylum Reform in the Aftermath of the Refugee Crisis: Towards an Effective Enforcement’ held at the University of Deusto (Spain)
Utrecht-Oslo ECHR Workshop

On 12 and 13 May, SIM, together with the Montaigne Centre from Utrecht University co-organised an international workshop with Oslo University in Norway. The workshop, entitled, 'How to research the European Court of Human Rights?', brought together ECHR scholars from across Europe to discuss the growing research toolkit to assess the Court and its work. SIM director Antoine Buyse and SIM fellow Janneke Gerards led the workshop together with Oslo professor Mads Andenæs, SIM fellows Elif Erken and Claire Loven also participated.
ISA Conference 2022

From 28 March-2 April the annual conference of the International Studies Association (ISA) took place in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Brianne McGonigle Leyh took part in an online roundtable presenting her book chapter on the second edition of the Transitional Justice Research Handbook (Edward Elgar) which will be on international criminal justice within the framework of transitional justice. She also presented a paper in Nashville on strategic litigation and universal jurisdiction for serious international crimes, sponsored by the ISA’s human rights section. Finally, she chaired a panel on policing organized by the Transformative Policing research group of Contesting Governance. 

Symposium Book Launch

On 9 June, Julie Fraser and Vivek Bhatt participated in a symposium at Edinburgh Law School on the book: Kasey McCall-Smith, Andrea Birdsall, and Elisenda Casanas Adam (eds) Human Rights in Times of Transition: Liberal Democracies and Challenges of National Security EE 2020). This book is part of the series edited by The Association of Human Rights Institutes series. Bhatt’s chapter is entitled: "Constructing a right to counterterrorism: Law, politics and the Security Council.” Fraser’s comments on the book related to the continuing contestation of human rights, the changing role of the State, and the double standards in rights protections.

Book Launch Armed Groups

On Monday 13th June, Katharine Fortin took part in an American Society of International Law book panel on Ezequiel Heffes’ new book Detention by Non-State Armed Groups under International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2022). The book explores the legal regulation of non-State armed groups' (NSAGs) detention activities and examines these actors' motivations when depriving individuals of their liberty. Based on case studies of selected groups from Colombia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and doctrinal analysis, Dr. Heffes also proposes minimum humanitarian principles applicable to detentions by NSAGs.

Global Education in Europe

Felisa Tibbitts was a keynote speaker for the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre Congress on Global Education, which took place 31 May – 1 June. She addressed the role of teachers in shaping and implementing global education that is innovative in its methodologies and transformative aims. She shared her research that shows a general lack of global education in teacher preparation internationally but increasing potential in the area of education for sustainable development.

Reparations Conference

From 21 – 23 March, Brianne McGonigle Leyh took part in a conference organized by Dr. Lorena De Vita (Humanities) on the unprecedented talks that took place in March 1952 between representatives of the state of Israel, the Jewish Claims Conference, and the Federal Republic of Germany in Wassenaar. These talks led to an agreement on reparations (Wiedergutmachung / Shilumim) for German-Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. Brianne McGonigle Leyh spoke on the topic of transformation and intersectionality in the field of reparations for serious international crimes.

Critical Pedagogy in Asian Universities

Felisa Tibbitts contributed to a webinar on 31 March organized by the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University (Thailand) to explore the use of critical pedagogy in higher education. Panelists discussed effective strategies for encouraging critical reflection and action-taking by students, including in societies non-democratic and divided. Felisa shared her own practices in the U.S. and partners in transitional justice environments, emphasizing the potential for universities to contribute to the public good, even in complex and even threatening human rights environments.

Conferences on Migrant Rights

Salvo Nicolosi spoke on 21 April on ‘The reconceptualization of the right to asylum from a cosmopolitan perspective’ in an International Conference on Sovereignty and Citizenship in a Post-Global World, organized by the School of Law of the University of Teramo, where Salvo was Visiting Professor. He also spoke on 28 April on ‘FRONTEX and the Rights of Migrants: Limits to Effective Judicial Protection’ in a Seminar organized by the Italian Association of European Law Scholars. Furthermore, he contributed on 12 May to the Online Roundtable on ‘Frontex and the EU Rule of Law in the Aftermath of the Resignation of the Executive Director’ organized at EUI.

Public International Law and Human Rights Legal Clinic

What can be done about Poland’s “LGBT-free zones” in the European Union and the Council of Europe? This question was at the centre of last Tuesday’s panel event by Utrecht University’s Public International Law and Human Rights Legal Clinic. LGBT rights specialists from Human Rights Watch, the office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights and the Council of Europe shared their insights. The event concluded an 8-month research project for Human Rights Watch on the “LGBT-free zones” and the panel’s remarks added to the policy recommendations made by the researchers. A recording will be available on the UGlobe and legal clinic websites shortly.

Interview on Climate Rights of Children

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is presently conducting an online consultation among children and young people (17 and under) to share their views and experiences on the environment and climate change. The aim is to find out how children’s rights are impacted by the environmental crisis and what governments must do to uphold these rights. Julie Fraser is interviewed by the Utrecht University on the matter. Read the interview here.

Blog Symposium

In June 2022, the Armed Groups and International Law blog (co-edited by Katharine Fortin) hosted a blog symposium on René Provost's new book Rebel Courts: The Administration of Justice by Armed Insurgents (OUP, 2021). The blog symposium provided a platform for scholars from different disciplines to comment on various aspects of Provost’s book: Schabas William, Hannes Jöbstl, Megan Stewart, Alessandra Spadaro, Jelena Pejic, Tom Ginsburg, Mark Drumbl and Marta Furlan.

SIM Teaching, Training and PhDs
PhD Defence - Setting Limits to Judicial Discretion in Interpreting Crimes. The Role of the Legality Principle at the International Criminal Court

On 14 June 2022, Ligeia Quackelbeen will publicly defend her PhD at Ghent University. Ligeia is supervised by Brianne McGonigle Leyh and Yves Haeck. Her dissertation is entitled ‘Setting Limits to Judicial Discretion in Interpreting Crimes. The Role of the Legality Principle at the International Criminal Court’.
Structural Inequality Workshop

On May 12-13, Lorena Sosa, Alexandra Timmer and Kathrin Thiele had the pleasure to organize the workshop "Structural inequality and the complexity of power: understanding why transformative legal concepts hit a glass ceiling" at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Spain. The workshop offered us the opportunity to engage with a selected group of participants in discussions about the different dynamics that interfere with the transformative potential of notions such as equality, diversity, inclusion, intersectionality and anti-stereotyping. Participants from different disciplinary and geographical/geopolitical angles and in different stages in their carriers submitted reflection pieces on the topic and presented short statements in a round table dynamic. 
Inclusive Education Workshop

Professor emeritus Jenny Goldschmidt contributed to the special workshop at the Open University preceding the meeting where the Chair of the Board of the Open University undersigned the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities. She elaborated on the practical implications of inclusive education with emphasis on the opinions of the Dutch Human Rights Institute on reasonable accommodation.
ECHR for Judges

On 4 March, Antoine Buyse taught another course on the Fundamentals of the European Convention of Human Rights at SSR, the Dutch training and study centre for the judiciary. The course took place online from a multimedia teaching room at SSR premises in Utrecht.
Guest Lecture on the Right to Health and Environment

Julie Fraser has presented a number of guest lectures in June for students at Utrecht Medical Centre examining the human right to health as well as the emerging international right to a healthy environment. Julie spoke with students about the human rights implications of the COVID19 pandemic, as well as human rights within the context of environmental health and climate change.
Guest Lecture on Ukraine Conflict 

On 19th May, Katharine Fortin was invited to give guest lecture on the conflict in Ukraine for the International Crimes Bench of the Hague District Court. Speaking to an audience of judges and assistant judges, she spoke about the application of international humanitarian law to the armed conflict in Ukraine and discussed some of the emerging legal issues that this armed conflict is throwing into the spotlight.
APMA Programme

24 March, Antoine Buyse, together with his Slovenian colleague professor Petra Roter, taught an online session on European protection of human rights to a group of students in the Bangkok-based APMA, the Asia Pacific MA in Human Rights and Democratisation. Buyse and Roter are lecturers in the European peer of APMA, called EMA. Both programmes are part of the EU-financed network of human rights masters, united in the Global Campus of Human Rights.
Guest Lecture Summer School 

On Wednesday 1st June, Katharine Fortin gave a guest lecture on ‘war crimes’ for the 15th Annual Summer Law Programme on International Criminal Law and International Legal & Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism organized by the War Crimes Research Office of American University’s Washington College of Law and the T.M.C. Asser Instituut. Selected students from top US law colleges and universities participated online for this four week course which explores the latest developments in international criminal law and counter-terrorism.
Visiting Scholar

Between February and June 2022, Katharine Fortin has been a visiting scholar at Queen’s University Belfast Law School. During her visit to Belfast in May, she took part in a roundtable on non-state actors and reparations. The purpose of the event was to highlight and discuss the special issue edited by Professor Kieran McEvoy, Dr Luke Moffett and Dr Cheryl Lawther in the Journal of Human Rights Practice. Dr Fortin’s own contribution to that special issue is entitled ‘The Procedural Right to a Remedy When the State has Left the Building? A Reflection on Armed Groups, Courts and Domestic Law’ and is available open access. She also gave a seminar on her ongoing NOW project ‘Dangerous Liaisons: civilian agency, armed groups and international law’.
MOOC Reaches 40K

This Spring, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Human Rights for Open Societies, reached the milestone of more than forty thousand participants globally. Since its inception in 2016, this free ECHR-focused course on the Coursera platform has run multiple times and is geared towards both students and professionals. Created by Antoine Buyse, Janneke Gerards and Paulien de Morree and currently co-taught with Claire Loven, the course is very highly evaluated. As one of the participants said "The course is excellent. The way of learning the subject seems to me I am reading an adventures story." It will run again starting 7 September.
Upcoming Events
5 July 2022 - Human Rights in Higher Education Panel

A panel discussion with key human rights actors engaged in promoting human rights learning and action within the Dutch university system. Presentations will address current and prospective efforts to enhance universities as sites for human rights. This panel discussion is co-sponsored by the Netherland Institute of Human Rights (SIM) and the Dutch Soroptimists in celebration of the renewal of the Chair in Human Rights Education at Utrecht University, held by Felisa Tibbitts and endowed by the Soroptimists. This panel will also be a part of the SIM Summer School! Register here.
27 June 2022 - Gender in International Criminal Law and Its Practice 

SIM staff organized this discussion ICC's practice in prosecuting sexual and gender-based crimes, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and gender equality within the working culture of the ICC. The panel will be moderated by Julie Fraser. Register by sending an email to More information click here.
  4 July 2022 - Conference on European Consensus  
  Kushtrim Istrefi is co-organising a conference on European Consensus in the premises of the European Court of Human Rights.  
Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
Book Chapter
  Julie Fraser, 'A seat at the table: Islamic law’s neglected potential in universalising international humanitarian law' in N. Weiss, & A. Zimmerman (Eds.), Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law: Challenges Ahead (Edward Elgar Publishing)  
  Lorena Sosa and Ruth Mestre, 'Ensuring the Non-Discriminatory Implementation of Measures against Violence Against Women And Domestic Violence: Article 4, Paragraph 3, of The Istanbul Convention' (2022) Council of Europe.
  Lorena Sosa and Alexandra Timmer ‘Estereotipos y derechos humanos: una perspectiva crítica a partir de la experiencia europea’ (2022) Los efectos de los estereotipos en la impartición de justicia, Arena, F. J. ed. (Mexico: Supreme Court of Justice)  
  Lorena Sosa and Sara de Vido, 'Criminalisation of gender-based violence against women in European States, including ICT-facilitated violence' (2021) European Commission  
Katharine Fortin, 'The Procedural Right to a Remedy when the State has Left the Building? A Reflection on Armed Groups, Courts and Domestic Law' (20 Journal of Human Rights Practice, Advance Access’ (2022) Journal of Human Rights Practice
Kushtrim Istrefi and Cedric Ryngaert, 'Makuchyan and Minasyan v Azerbaijan and Hungary: Novel Questions of State Responsibility, Presidential Pardon, and Due Diligence of Sentencing Transfer Meet in a Rare Case of the Right to Life' (2022) 3(2) ECHR Law Review
Tihomir Sabchev, 'Potential and Limits of Municipal Solidarity with Refugees: A Case Study of the Greek Island of Tilos' (2022) Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies
Jerome de Hemptinne and Anne Peters, 'Animals in war: At a vanishing point of international law' (2022) International Review of the Red Cross, pp. 1-30
Julie Fraser, 'The Human Right to a Healthy Environment (CUP 2018) by John Knox and Ramin Pejan: Book review by Julie Fraser' (2022) Nordic Journal of Human Rights
Sjoerd Ligthart, Antoine Buyse & Gerben Meynen, 'Het recht op vrijheid van gedachte' (2022) RM Themis
Kushtrim Istrefi, 'Russia will no longer participate in the Council of Europe: a problematic Member State who could not commit to peace' (ECHR Blog, 10 March 2022)
Katharine Fortin, 'State Responsibility and Rebels: An Interview with Kathryn Greenman' (Armed Groups and International Law, 20 May 2022)
Katharine Fortin, 'Teaching Legal Blogging and a Student Blog Symposium on AGIL' (Armed Groups and International Law, 25 April 2022)
Katharine Fortin, 'Demythologizing the post WWII years and Charting the Untravelled Paths of CA3' (OpinioJuris, 28 April 2022)
Katharine Fortin, 'Dancing with whoever is there: civilian agency, neutrality and the principle of distinction' (Armed Groups and International Law, 3 February 2022)
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