Student Workshops and Study Trips

Since its inception by the Minerva Center for Human Rights in 2009-2010, the Transitional Justice Student Workshop and Study Trip has annually been one of the most unique and highly sought-after educational opportunities offered at the Faculty of Law, and a key component of the Transitional Justice Program. 

Ten students from diverse academic backgrounds are chosen each year, from among many dozens of applicants, to participate in an academic course in transitional justice that focuses in particular on one historic example of transition (or attempted transition) from conflict to peace. The course culminates in an intensive study trip to the region in question - including discussions and tours with political leaders; with judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys; with civil society practitioners and community leaders; with survivors’ groups, ex-combatants and ex-prisoners; and with students and leading academics at local universities. 

The first such workshop and study tour focused on Rwanda - developed and taught by Dr. Sigall Horovitz, then a PhD student at the Faculty of Law, the course was offered in 2010, 2011 and 2012. A second workshop and study tour focused on the Northern Ireland conflict - developed and taught by Dr. Ron Dudai, who completed his PhD at Queens University Belfast, the course was offered in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The most recent workshop focuses on the conflict in Cyprus - developed and taught by Adv. Limor Yehuda, a PhD student in the Faculty of Law, it has been offered in 2017 and 2018.

Details of each of these workshops and study tours, including photographs and student testimonials, can be reached through the links on the left.

Cyprus

The Cyprus Workshops and Study Tours, 2017 - 2018

The Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Program conducted a workshop and study tour on the conflict in Cyprus under the guidance of Adv. Limor Yehuda, PhD candidate at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law, whose research focuses on the resolution of ethno-national conflicts.

It has been over 50 year since the outbreak of the conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the neighboring island of Cyprus. In July 1974, following a constitutional crisis and a coup d’etat led by Greek officers of the National Guard, Turkey invaded Cyprus. Following the invasion the island was divided between the Greek Cypriot side (South Cyprus, recognized state of Cyprus), and the Turkish Cypriot side (Northern Cyprus). During the last decades repeated attempts to reach a peace agreement that will lead to the re-unification of the island have taken place, the last of which is taking place in these very days. Due to significant similarities between the Cypriot conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is great value in a comparative examination of these two cases.

The workshops included the study of theoretical and actual issues, and focused on three aspects: First, introduction to the Cyprus conflict and Israeli-Palestinian conflict and comparing them - while assessing similarities and differences between the two cases; Second, initiatives and actions that various parties (states, international organizations, civil society) have taken to promote peace and reconciliation in Cyprus; Third, based on the two cases, a critical evaluation of concepts and methods of transitional justice in situations where peace agreement have not yet been achieved was conducted.

 As part of the workshops, a group of 10-12 students participated in a focused two days introduction session on the conflict in Cyprus. The introduction was followed by a 4 days study tour to Cyprus to learn more about the conflict there, and to identify comparative features to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The group stayed in Nicosia and toured and met with key personnel in both the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot parts of the Island. The group met with an impressive variety of speakers amongst them were academics researching aspects of the conflict discussing issues such as identities in conflict, gender, collective remembrance of historical events and the effect these events have on the situation today. The group also met with professional educators and learnt about the challenges of education this specific conflict face. And finally, the group met with UN representatives in the Island.

Both academically and educationally the workshops and the study tours were extremely successful. The students who participated in this program had an unusual opportunity to meet first hand, through research and learning, academic researchers and decision makers working in Cyprus and hearing from them about the basic characteristics of that conflict. The workshop also provided the students another perspective and understanding of the basic characteristics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, providing an insight into the similarities and differences between the two conflicts, while learning the theoretical background in the fields of Transitional Justice and Conflict Resolution. The students of this workshop, Arabs and Jews, got to meet and better understand diverse and controversial issues within the Israeli society.


Below are selected photos from the Transitional Justice Workshop educational tours in Cyprus: 


Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Workshops and Study Tours, 2013 - 2015

In 2012 a new workshop was developed for the Transitional Justice Program by Dr. Ron Dudai, with particular emphasis on transitional justice and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland. Dr. Dudai’s PhD dissertation was completed at Queens University Belfast, and focused on the Northern Ireland conflict.

The Northern Ireland conflict was the bloodiest and most high-profile conflict in Post-WWII Western Europe. The peace process which led to the end of the conflict is considered largely successful, though tensions and violence between the communities still exist. As part of this process, a wide range of transitional justice mechanisms and initiatives have been established in Northern Ireland, both by the state and by civil society.  

In the comparative study of transitional justice and conflict transformation, the Northern Ireland case is considered among the most complex and interesting, and in this workshop it serves as a basis for a critical discussion of transitional justice in broader theoretical and practical contexts. The workshop examined issues such as dealing with the past, commissions of inquiry, reconciliation processes, institutional reforms and the role of actors such as civil society, armed groups, and former political prisoners. Importantly, the workshop also explored comparative aspects of the issues, including aspects relating to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Ten top-notch students of diverse academic backgrounds were selected for the intensive semester-long workshop, which included an 8-day study tour to Northern Ireland. The tour includes numerous meetings, workshops and site visits with politicians, civil society organizations, community leaders, ex-combatants and ex-prisoners from the Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups, and tours and presentations by numerous engaged academics in the fields of law, criminology and education. As reflected in our students' testimonials, the course and study trip had a profound impact on the participants – providing them with academic and practical tools, with hope and with inspiration: 

"How grateful I am for this week, that felt like a month, and was so packed with men and women working for years, in the field, every day, each in their own way, in work that is often so exhausting and discouraging, but from whose fruits – and from the determination and faith driving it – one can only be amazed. How wonderful and confusing it was to hear so many different perspectives - of politicians, academics, activists on the ground – on "what is this conflict about" and on how to deal with its implications. How riveting it was to deconstruct these dichotomies into sub-stories and absent or hidden or silenced stories, and to give them voice. How interesting it was to talk directly with people we met by chance because we happened to be there, in a market or pub or street. How moving was the generosity, patience and willingness to answer every question, however direct or personal, that everyone bestowed upon us.  

Thank you for awakening the hope that had fallen asleep in my heart." 

-  Mia Biran (3rd-year student of Law and Literature) 

"Throughout the trip thoughts are racing all the time between Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine… about similarities and differences and what can be learned. Questions about the present – is the argument about the Protestant flag marches through Catholic communities similar to that regarding our Jerusalem Day marches of Jews through Eastern Jerusalem, or the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem?... And about the future – what role can ex-prisoners play in our process of reconciliation? Can the British apology over Black Sunday be an appropriate model in the context of Jews and Arabs in Israel?...  

Thanks to the course and the trip I was able to dive into these issues in the deepest and most complex manner imaginable… I am grateful for the opportunity that was given to me." 

-  Lior Lehrs (PhD student in International Relations and Conflict Transformation) 

"When we landed in Northern Ireland I was very sure of what I know... But already after the first day this sense of confidence was replaced by big question marks. It is true that you told us many times that if we are confused, we're on the right track… My confusion was due to the fact that you can't really say that the conflict has been resolved. Just from walking in a neighborhood in Belfast and seeing a gate in a dividing wall that is still locked at night in order to prevent passage between neighborhoods, just from hearing from about the failure of the mixed school system, just from the very fact that the receptionist at the hotel still whispers the word "Catholic" - I understood that "peace" is a more complex concept than I had grasped until now… 

I came back with a big smile. The intensity of the tour, the meetings with people, the personal conversations with students in the group and with locals were a very powerful experience….  

I want to thank you again for the amazing opportunity I was given to participate in the workshop. It is so unusual to be the recipient of so much access to information and openness from all of the speakers. This was the best educational experience of my legal studies."   

-  Michal Klein (LLM student) 

"The sad city of Belfast gave me hope for a resolution in Israel/Palestine. It will not be a happy-end story and many obstacles will arise, but from honest conversations I had and stinging stories I heard, not trying to bright-coloring reality but rather to deal with it, I can see one tiny light at the end of our bloody pathway. We have to cope with the situation and to try to deal with it optimally, even if not perfectly. Though they cannot be fully detailed here, the tour gave me new perspectives and thoughts for futuristic settlements, influenced by the not perfect Northern-Ireland examples.      

I do not believe that I could reach theses understandings, surely not in a short week, had I not meet in person so many inspiring, still realistic and honest, persons in Northern-Ireland's tour by Minerva Center. For me, morality is about sensitive honesty about reality with a little hint of optimism. The tour made this hint a clearer one." 

Asher (Ashi) Rottenberg (Law and Amirim Honor Program for Humanities Student) 


Below are selected photos from the Transitional Justice Workshop educational tours in Northern Ireland:  

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A militant Protestant mural in East Belfast, May 2013 

  

 

 

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The group at the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) at the University of Ulster; 
 Bottom (L to R): Students Lior Lehrs, Enav Morgenstern, Inbal Hezkeli, TJI Prof. Bill Rolston 

 

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With Sinn Fein Member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly Pat Sheehan  
(former senior IRA prisoner and hunger striker)  

 

 
 

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A tour with Prof. Peter Shirlow of Queen's University Belfast: 
 "Nothing about us without us is for us" 

  

 

 

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Gate in a "Peace Wall" separating Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods 

 


 

 

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The group at the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) at the University of Ulster 

 

 

 

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Display at Linen Hall Library: Belfast newspaper of May 23, 1998  
announcing the results of the public referendum on the Good Friday Agreement 

 

Rwanda

The Rwanda Workshops and Study Tours, 2010 - 2012

Rwanda is a particularly intriguing example of a diversity of transitional justice mechanisms in practice. In the 1994 genocide in Rwanda an estimated one million Tutsis were massacred in 100 days. In its aftermath, the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which is based in Arusha, Tanzania.

In addition, Rwanda also established gacaca courts, which are based on a traditional system of justice. These community courts prosecuted genocide-related crimes, while designed to encourage reconciliation at the same time. Rwanda has also undergone significant normative and institutional reforms since the genocide. 

In the year 2009 the Minerva Center initiated the Transitional Justice Workshop, focusing as a test-case on the Rwanda genocide, which included an extraordinary 9-day educational visit to Rwanda and Arusha. The workshop was taught by Advocate Sigall Horovitz, a PhD candidate at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law, who previously worked as a legal officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and as a consultant at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (a UN backed war-crimes tribunal mandated to try those most responsible for the atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war). 

One element of the workshop was the preparation of collaborative research papers by our students together with MA students from the National University of Rwanda.  During the educational visit to Rwanda the students presented their research papers in a joint public symposium.  

"I think one of the most surprising experiences we all shared was the understanding of how Rwanda, 17 years after the genocide, is a source of hope and inspiration to all people living in conflicts around the world, and especially to us. We have seen how, with the help of transitional justice processes and indescribable mental strength, the people of Rwanda have managed to rebuild themselves and their country, rather than get dragged into an endless cycle of bloodshed and reprisals.  

First, we have learned that you can read all the books and articles in the world and it will never compare to visiting a place and talking to the people living there. We learned so much about Rwanda prior to our trip, but after 10 days there we have realized that we might start, only now, to draw the basic lines of the very complex picture. Nothing can compare to the first-hand learning we have so luckily been able to experience. Secondly, transitional justice processes, of different kinds and forms, can do a lot to help a country, a people, to overcome a bloody conflict. Truth and justice - be it local or international - have enormous power, liberating power perhaps, to bring people forward. We were all left thinking about how we can use transitional justice mechanisms in our conflict, possibly not only after it is solved, but even in an attempt to bring it to an end." 

- Aya Ben Amos  (M.A. student- Conflict Research, Management and Resolution at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem) 


Below are selected photos from the Transitional Justice Workshop educational tours in Rwanda: 

 
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Rwanda, 2012 

 

 

 

 


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At the main Rwanda Genocide Memorial and mass grave in Kigali, 2012 

 

 

 

 

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Students meeting with a mixed Tutsi-Hutu women's drum collective, 2012 

 

 

 

 

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HU law students Yigal Avrahami and Edya Ben Haim with Prof. Usta Kaitesi of the National University of Rwanda, 2012 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HU student Yotam Zeira and a Rwandan student. 2011 

 

 

 

 

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HU student Malki Benyamin Teferberg lecturing in Butare  at a joint symposium with the National University of Rwanda, 2012 

 

 

 


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HU student Iris Weinrib and a Rwandan colleague at a genocide memorial site, 2012