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Kosovo University Offers First Master’s Course in Transitional Justice

The law faculty at the University of Pristina has enrolled 30 students for its first ever master’s degree programme in human rights, international criminal law and transitional justice, with lectures due to begin on November 15.

Avni Puka, dean of the law faculty, said that the programme was drafted with the help of international experts and is unique in the former Yugoslav region.

“Through this master’s programme we expect to have the first generation of students at the Faculty of Law, local and international, specialising in the field of human rights, international law and transitional justice,” Puka told BIRN.

Twenty of the students are from Kosovo, while the other ten come from countries including Spain, North Macedonia, Serbia, Egypt, Ghana and South Sudan – the first group of regular international students at the University of Pristina.

One of the students, Viona Bunjaku, said that by taking the course, she hopes to contribute to strengthening transitional justice mechanisms in Kosovo.

“This programme is a very important subject, taking into consideration that Kosovo has been through a bitter past and now is dealing with its legacy and is having a very hard transition,” Bunjaku told BIRN.

“I believe it will help a lot in the research and documentation of the country’s war,” she added.

The term transitional justice covers issues of truth-seeking, justice for crimes committed, reparations for victims, memorialisation and institutional reforms to prevent conflicts recurring. Transitional justice strategies are intended to help countries move from conflict situations to sustainable peace.

International law professor Besfort Rrecaj, who will be one of the lecturers for the programme, said that from an academic perspective it’s important to address issues that can contribute to peace and to examine scientifically-grounded solutions for the sustainable development of society.

“As Kosovo is still undergoing transitional justice [processes] due to its past, I think it is timely and will contribute to the process,” Rrecaj told BIRN.

He said the new programme “aims to advance the understanding, skills and application of contemporary means and methods to address important and sensitive issues of transitional justice”.

Puka said that a Centre for the Study of Genocide, the Holocaust and Transitional Justice will also be established at the University of Pristina in November.

He said that work is also underway to create a memorial space within the law faculty for women who were raped at the faculty building during the Kosovo war, as well as victims of massacres and former students at the faculty who were killed in the war.

“We expect to have support from the Ministry of Culture,” he said.

However, a previous attempt to establish a Transitional Justice Resource Centre at the university in 2018 came to nothing after the project ran into problems over funding.

Source : Balkan Insight