LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights


Program Description

The LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights is one of the most innovative and intellectually challenging programs in international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights offered in Europe today. It focuses primarily on all rules applicable to armed conflicts, and their interaction, and promotes both academic excellence and independent critical thinking.

Students have access to a world-renowned faculty, benefit from direct connections with leading actors like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and share ideas with other participants from an array of legal backgrounds and perspectives.

The program allows students to tailor their studies according to their particular interests. While core courses provide a firm grounding in public international law, IHL, international human rights law (IHRL) in armed conflict, international refugee law and international criminal law (ICL), optional courses explore cutting-edge issues like counter-terrorism, armed non-state actors, the rules governing the conduct of hostilities, the Islamic law of armed conflict or the work of international courts and tribunals.

The LLM is also profoundly committed to developing the transferable skills necessary to succeed in the professional world and take up responsibilities in the humanitarian and human rights fields. To this end, internships with leading actors, participation in the Jean-Pictet Competition, public pleadings, military briefings, and a study trip provide a solid exposure to practical work and allow students to expand their network.


The Programme

The LLM (60 ECTS credits) is structured around the following components:

Core Courses

Core courses are mandatory and provide a solid legal basis and understanding of public international law, IHL, IHRL in armed conflict, international refugee law and ICL.

Optional Courses

Optional courses allow students to deepen their expertise in a particular issue such as armed non-state actors in international law, the conduct of hostilities or the Islamic law of armed conflict.


Students have the opportunity to acquire first-hand professional experience via internships with Geneva-based humanitarian and human rights actors.

Moot Courts

Students can participate in the prestigious Jean-Pictet Competition on IHL as well as in public pleadings on specific conflict situations.

LLM Paper

The LLM promotes academic excellence and independent critical thinking. One of its core outputs is an LLM paper on a specific issue addressed by the program and written under the guidance of a faculty member.

Study Trip

Students go on a study trip to learn about leading institutions and organizations active in the field of IHL and human rights.

Military Briefings

This unique series of events aims to improve our students’ knowledge of military actors and operations and build bridges between the military and civilian worlds.

An Exceptional Learning Environment

The LLM is organized around small and intimate learning communities. This creates an exceptional learning environment where some of the most experienced and academically qualified students from all over the world gain access to a world-renowned faculty at the cutting edge of IHL, IHRL, ICL, and international refugee law.

Weekly tutorials allow students to revise and discuss concepts and issues addressed in the core courses and prepare for the exams.

As an IHL and human rights hub, Geneva offers a broad range of conferences and public events featuring key experts and topics, as well as providing access to leading actors in the field.

With more than 70 public events, expert seminars and conferences organized every year, we host some of the world’s leading academics and practitioners who share their research, views, and experiences with our students and directly touch upon topics addressed in the program.

The Foundation for a Successful Career

The LLM provides the necessary legal and practical skills for a successful career in

inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with IHL, human rights, ICL, refugees or migration, as well as public administration, international tribunals or academic institutions.

A significant number of LLM graduates work for the ICRC, in the field as well as at the Geneva headquarters, at OHCHR and with other international organizations, NGOs, academic institutions, governments, and international courts and tribunals.

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have:

  • A full degree in law (received by June at the latest) enabling the applicant to sit the bar exam in the relevant country; or another degree if the applicant has a significant amount of training in public international law and courses related to our program (e.g. international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law).
  • A strong academic record.
  • A demonstrable interest in the subject matter of the program (e.g. professional experience, internships, summer school, conferences attended, publications, etc.).
  • A sound command of English. You must be able to show, via a recognized test, that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at the Geneva Academy. This requirement does not apply if (1) your mother tongue is English; (2) you have taken an English-taught bachelor’s or master’s degree; (3) you have at least two years’ professional or academic experience in an English-speaking environment.
  • A passive knowledge of French is an asset as students might have to attend conferences and class presentations in French.

A Comprehensive Assessment

Each application is considered in its entirety, including transcripts, extracurricular and voluntary activities, work experience, personal background, letters of recommendation, personal statement and language skills.

In considering each individual, the Admissions Committee seeks not only to identify characteristics that are important to academic success in the program but also other qualities that promote diversity and excellence in the student body.

Not for Native French Speakers

Most courses are taught in English. Some exams can be taken in French and questions in class may be asked in either language. The LLM paper can be written in French.

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

The Geneva Academy is a joint centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

The Geneva Academy is a joint centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Read less