International Law

The M.A. Programmes in International Law provide students with a rigorous understanding of the role of law in today’s complex global society. Though international law has a long history, the last century has seen an impressive expansion of the role of law and legal institutions in international and transnational relations, involving not just states, but an increasing array of various types of actors. Our Masters Programmes provide an introduction to this dynamic field as well as the opportunity to gain a solid and critical understanding of public international law and its various underpinnings. Aside from a focus on the foundational principles and values of the international legal system, various courses deal with the broad range of international institutions that play a pivotal role in the development of international law as well as in its implementation and enforcement. Our courses are taught by faculty with rich international experience, as well as by visiting professors from prestigious universities and key international organizations (UN, UNHCR, ICRC, etc.) Our faculty has long-standing experience in teaching both lawyers and students from different disciplines. The in-class experience offers an exciting and diverse environment, with students hailing from all over the world and a broad range of backgrounds.

The Master Programmes begin with core foundational courses in the field, including public international law and human rights. Against this background, considerable attention will be given to the role of international law in conflict and peace, in particular to questions of collective security arrangements, international humanitarian law, and peacebuilding. Specific attention will be given to post-conflict situations and ‘transitional justice’ mechanisms, which call for complex international legal and policy arrangements, and are crucial for the implementation of international human rights standards. In particular, it will examine how international criminal law and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have become a crucial part of this framework. In addition, the Programmes provide an understanding of the position and protection of the most vulnerable, in particular refugees and the stateless. Students can choose between the two different Programmes: 'International Law and Human Rights' or International Law and the Settlement of Disputes.

Resident Faculty

Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo (Venezuela)

Dr. Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo (Venezuela) is the Dean for International Cooperation and a Professor in the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE. He is also Associate Professor of International Law at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas since 1998. Professor of Humanitarian International Law at the Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogota since 2009; he was Fulbright Visiting Professor at the Washington College of Law at the American University in 2008-2009. He served as Jurist to the Regional Delegation of Venezuela and the Caribbean of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Former Deputy Director of the Venezuelan Diplomatic Academy and Member of the Venezuelan Foreign Service (1991-1999). Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo has a Law Degree, Master in International Law and Doctorate (Cum Laude) from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas and a Master Degree from Oxford University, UK; Certificate in International Public Law from the Academy of International Law at The Hague and the Program of Instruction for Lawyers, Harvard Law School. He has published four books on international law and international relations and a numerous articles in different publications in the field.

Mihir Kanade (India)

Dr. Mihir Kanade (India) is an Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE. He is also the Director of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre. Prior to the present position, Mihir practiced for 6 years as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court, focusing on issues of fundamental human rights violations. He holds a LL.B. from Nagpur University and a Master’s degree in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from UPEACE. He has served as a legal advisor to many human rights organizations in India and has represented them before different courts and tribunals in criminal, constitutional and labour cases. His principal area of academic research and study is Globalization and Human Rights.

Miriam Estrada (Ecuador)

Dr. Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Ecuador) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Law and Human Rights. Prior to joining UPEACE, Dr. Estrada-Castillo worked as the senior legal and political officer in the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). Prior to that position, she has worked with the UN system in various capacities, including as the International Prosecutor General, UN Peacekeeping Mission for East-Timor (DPKO), Expert and Vice-Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Chief of Field of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Latin America Regional Adviser on Gender, Human Rights and Culture of Peace for UNESCO. She has also worked as the President of the Ecuadorian Supreme Court of Juvenile Justice and as the Minister of Social Affairs in Ecuador. In her academic life, she worked recently as the Director of Master Degree Courses on Gender and the Law and Children in Armed Conflict, Lund University, Sweden. She is a Visiting Professor of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) and has also taught courses as a Visiting Professor at the Australian National University. She is the author of the Ecuadorian Law on Violence against Women and of the first Legislation for Minors and Family in the country.

In addition, various courses will be taught by Visiting Faculty, as well as by practioners, some of whom work with international organizations (UNHCR, ICRC, etc,).

Visiting Faculty

Frans Vijoen (South Africa)

Dr. Frans Viljoen obtained the degrees LLB, MA (in Afrikaans literature) and LLD (on the African regional human rights system) from the University of Pretoria (UP); and the degree LLM from Cambridge University.  In October 2007, he was appointed as Director of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. He is also the academic co-ordinator of the LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), presented by the Centre, in collaboration with twelve partner law faculties across Africa. He is also the author of numerous articles, especially dealing with human rights issues, and the book International Human Rights Law in Africa (Oxford University Press, second edition, 2012). He is editor-in-chief of the African Human Rights Law Journal and co-editor of the English and French versions of the African Human Rights Law Reports.

Gudmundur Eiriksson (Iceland)

Gudmundur Eiriksson (LL.B King’s College, University of London; LL.M Columbia University)  is currently Ambassador of Iceland to India. Ambassador Eiriksson served as a Law of the Sea Officer in the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Law of the Sea from 1974 to 1976 and as a Special Consultant at the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1977.  He joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland in 1977, with the rank of Ambassador since 1988, and served as Assistant Legal Adviser (1977-1980), Legal Adviser (1980-1996), Ambassador to Canada, Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru (2003-2005) and Ambassador to South Africa (2008-2009).  He was appointed as the first Chairman of the Icelandic National Committee on International Humanitarian Law (2008). He was Director of International Law and Human Rights Studies and Dean for Cooperative Programmes at the University for Peace in Costa Rica from 2001 to 2003 and Professor and Head of the Department of International Law and Human Rights from 2005 to 2008. He served as Legal Adviser to the University’s Council from 2004-2008. He has served as a Judge on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (1996-2002) and President of the Chamber for Fisheries Disputes (1999-2002). He is also a former member of the International Law Commission (1987-1996). He is a member of the Panel of Conciliators and Arbitrators, Center for Arbitrations, Mediation and Conciliation, Dakar, the Panel of Conciliators and Panel of Arbitrators, International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, Washington, and the International Council of Environmental Law, Bonn. He is a Member of the Editorial Board of the Inter-American & European Human Rights Journal/ Revista Interamericana & Europea de Derechos Humanos and of the Advisory Board of the Nordic Journal of International Law.

Jan Hessbruegge (Switzerland)

Jan Hessbruegge has worked since 2005 as a Human Rights Officer for the United Nations, where he worked for the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, United Nations peacekeeping missions in Sudan and Haiti, the Commissions of Inquiry on Human Rights in Syria and North Korea, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons. Currently, he is posted at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Headquarters in Geneva. He holds a law degree from the University of Muenster in Germany, a Master of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School and the Diploma in Public International Law of the Hague Academy of International Law and is currently pursuing a doctorate in international law at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany.

Keiichiro Okimoto (Japan)

Member of the Office of the Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Affairs, Secretariat of the United Nations. Previously a member of the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs. Formerly a legal adviser and a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, the Philippines, and Rwanda. LLM, London School of Economics and Political Science; PhD, University of Cambridge. Areas of expertise are the law of international organisations, international humanitarian law, international law regulating the use of force, and the law of treaties.

Olger Gonzalez (Costa Rica)

Olger I. González Espinoza is currently a Senior Legal Officer at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where he has worked for 15 years in various positions in the Legal Department of the Registry. He currently coordinates one of working-groups of the Court’s permanent Registry. Olger completed a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA. European Master) in Venice and Strasbourg, as well as a Diploma on transitional justice, human rights and democratisation at the University of Chile, and earned his law degree from the University of Costa Rica. He has followed various human rights specialized courses, completed a Professional Visit to the European Court of Human Rights (2004) and participated in an OAS electoral observation mission (Guatemala, 2007). He has lectured on human rights, transitional justice and the Inter-American system issues in several fora to public servants, NGOs and national institutions in different countries of the American continent. Consultant of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (San José) and Visiting Professor at the University for Peace (San José) and University of Costa Rica. He is also involved in several projects of arts, culture and cinema.

María Pía Carazo (Costa Rica/Germany)

María Pía Carazo Ortiz (Costa Rica/Germany) has a Law degree from the University of Costa Rica (1996), an LL.M. degree from the University of Heidelberg, Germany (1999) and a Doctorate in Law from Göttingen University.  Her areas of research include central issues of Public International Law, Refugee Law, International Criminal Law, Transitional Justice, Human Rights (with an emphasis on regional protection systems), Sustainable Development and Climate Change. Among her previous work experience she worked as a junior research fellow at Max-Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany. She has also lectured and taught at different institutions, including the University of Bonn, Germany.


Visiting Experts from International Organizations

The programme on International Law with specializations in human rights and in the settlement of disputes also includes visiting experts from three international organizations:

  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Apart from academic credits for these courses, the students also receive certificates of training from these three organizations.