Geoffrey Nice Foundation


Geoffrey Nice Foundation
in partnership with

Transitional Justice Working Group (Seoul, South Korea)

and Justice for Iran (London, UK)


Master Class


“Mapping, Documenting and Prosecuting Mass Atrocities”

to be held at

the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia

from 01 to 12 July 2019



The Master Class’s on Law History, Politics and Society in the Context of Mass Atrocities have been held at the IUC Dubrovnik had for its objective to advance a multidisciplinary approach to International Criminal Justice through exploration of legal, historical, political and sociological methodologies by a balanced mixture of students of different disciplines. The faculty of lecturers included academics with backgrounds in law, history, political science and sociology, together with politicians, international lawyers and human rights activists. The Master Class was held in the Croatian university town of Dubrovnik, a site accessible to participants from the region where there have been recent conflicts. The regional ‘constituency’ of students was expanded by involvement of participants from Western Europe and the USA. Given that the majority of universities in the region do not have a curriculum dealing with international criminal courts in the context of Transitional Justice, this Master Class was designed to fill a gap in curricula for students from the region. Students from outside the region were enabled to enrich their academic curricula by the interdisciplinary approach and by interaction with colleagues from the region where the mass atrocities had occurred.

Description of the Concept

Law: The legal processes used at international criminal courts were initially based on the Common Law’s adversarial system, but, over the years, have incorporated a number of elements from the Civil Law’s inquisitorial system – becoming a hybrid of the two. Establishing guilt or innocence as expressed in judgements is the primary task of all legal processes. To understand what is a legal injustice one has to understand the applicable normative system, rules of procedure and legal theories as well as the evidence given at the particular trial. These subjects would normally only be of professional interest to lawyers, judges, scholars and students of law. However when dealing with mass atrocities and political violence there is a growing awareness of a need for a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to research and to the teaching of institutionalised legal responses to mass atrocities. 

History: Mass atrocities trials produce extensive trial records that eventually become historical sources. At every war crimes trial, history will inevitably be discussed because, first, all sides – prosecution and all accused – will use the historical background to explain the conflict and its violent nature from their points of view. Second, all sides might call expert witnesses on history to inform or educate the judges about the conflict. Third, every trial record will become a historical source and might contribute to new or extended historical interpretations of the given historical period. Yet, the lawyers and judges may draw very different conclusions from those drawn by historians, despite working from the same trial records.

Politics: New post-conflict political elites will try to interpret the ‘Legal Narrative’ as told in the courtroom and Legal Justice as articulated in court judgements to their own ends. There are different ways for political elites to (ab)use mass atrocities trials in achieving objectives other than justice. They might use trials to influence the processes of shaping collective memory about the conflict or by stressing the wrongdoings and criminality of the ‘other side’ in the conflict while downplaying the role of their own side. They might try to use the existence of war crimes courts to get rid of political rivals by influencing the indictment strategy of the courts – for example, by selectivity in what incriminatory evidence they provide to an international prosecutor from state archives. They may use the mass atrocities trials for immediate political objectives, such as accession to the EU.

Society: What is the impact of mass atrocities trials on post-conflict societies? What is the reaction of the victims, of the Media and of NGOs? How easy or difficult is it for non-specialists to understand legal proceedings and to appreciate the impact of ‘Retributive Justice’, which is perpetrator oriented? What about ‘Restorative Justice’, which is victim oriented? How does one achieve reconciliation in post-conflict societies where the perpetrators and victims remain living close to, or even intermingled with, each other? Should reconciliation be a
goal of Retributive Justice at all?

Target Group: Young professionals: diplomats, lawyers, journalists, historians, human rights activists, junior politicians; MA and PhD students of Law, History, Sociology, Politics, International Relations, Journalism, European Studies and related subjects.

History of the Master Classes

“On Law, History, Politics and Society in the Context of Mass Atrocities”, held from 28 June to 11 July 2014 at the Inter University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

“Law and Politics of Genocide: 20 Years After Srebrenica”, held from 28 June to 09 July 2015 at the IUC Dubrovnik (Croatia) and from 10 to 12 July 2015 in Srebrenica.

“Conflict Beyond the Reach of Law: Emerging World Order and the Search for Adequate Responses to Political Violence“, held from 03 to 14 July 2016 in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

“Law and Politics of Terrorism: In Search of Adequate Political, Military and Legal Responses to the Threat of Terrorism in the Post-Cold War Era,” held from 03 to 14 July 2017 in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

“Political Expediency behind International Criminal Courts,” held from 01 to 12 July 2018 in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The 2019 Master Class focused first on the critical role that mapping atrocities and their subsequent investigations has in bringing war criminals to trial and then on the prosecution of the gravest of the world’s crimes:

  1. Mapping of human rights abuses and mass atrocities – this topic will explore the use of geospatial mapping in documentation, advocacy and international criminal justice. The case studies will include mapping projects on the grave human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea, Syria and Myanmar.
  2. Documenting human rights abuses of mass atrocities before, during and after the conflict. Can NGOs and international organizations compel governments and international criminal courts to act based on overwhelming
    evidence of crimes being documented by independent and impartial research groups? The seven case studies are listed below.
  3. Prosecuting mass atrocities and grave human rights abuses as war crimes has been happening in recent times but only since creation in 1993 of the two ‘Ad Hoc Tribunals’ for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. Despite the existence of a permanent international criminal court (ICC) since 2002, the number of prosecutions lags way behind the realities on the ground of international crimes that really need to be investigated and prosecuted. Do
    exercises of mapping and documenting mass atrocities succeed in getting indictments laid and prosecutions brought at international criminal courts of individuals responsible for the commission of crimes? Do criminal trials
    become valuable documentation centres for those who seek for different sorts of justice from what retributive justice can offer. The case studies include the analysis of the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Extraordinary Chambers on the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).


  1. Cambodia
  2. Ex-Yugoslavia
  3. Iran
  4. North Korea
  5. Myanmar
  6. Vietnam
  7. Syria


This year 20 academic, practitioners and human rights advocates from 11 countries gave talks about the theory and practice of mapping, documenting and prosecuting mass-atrocities using the examples of seven historical and on-going cases of mass atrocities. The audience existed of a group of 30 young professionals coming from 11 different states.


In interdisciplinary and interactive classes, the participants learned practice about the investigative and legal processes in mapping and documenting the on-going mass atrocities by different techniques. The practical exercises about the special evidence based on the memory of the victims have been conduced; mock-trials were used as a learning tool for the lawyers and non-lawyers to understand the limitations of “trial truth” and criminal justice. The film seminars were used to help to understand the importance of recording the facts as well as human emotions of those who suffered the grave abuses. In the final assessment the participant appreciated the most the international and interdisciplinary approach, the diversity of the faculty and interplay of practical and theoretical contributions.



09:00 – 10:00 – Introduction by Tromp&Nice “Why This Master Class and Why at the IUC in Dubrovnik”
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Sir Geoffrey&Nevenka Tromp “Evidence at International Criminal Trials”
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Discussion
12:30 – 13:30 – Sarah Son&Shadi Sadr “Mapping Mass Atrocites: Methodology, Technique and Objectives”
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK – Group Discussions
16:00 – 19:00 – Practicum/Discussion

Tuesday, July 2 – North Korea

09:00 – 10:00 – Sarah Son “Introduction to North Korea Human Rights Abuses”
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Sonja Biserko “The UN CoI and Documenting Human Rights Abuses in North Korea”
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Sarah Son “Mapping Human Rights Abuses in North Korea”
12:30 – 13:30 – Ben Rogers “In Search for Accountability Mechanisms”
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK – Group discussions on North Korea
16:00 – 19:00 – Practicum: Preparations for the Avernia trial

Wednesday, July 3 – Iran

09:00 – 10:00 – Plenary Discussion on North Korea
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Hamid Sabi “Iran and Accountability 40 years after the Islamic Revolution: The Impact of the Iran Peoples’ Tribunal”
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Shadi Sadr “Mapping the Human Rights Abuses in Iran”
12:30 – 13:30 – Shadi Amin “Working in Field on a Hostile Territory: Mass Graves Landscape of Iran ”
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK – Group Discussions on Iran
16:00 – 17:30 – Nick Parker “Multilateral Military Response to Mass Atrocities”
17:30-18:00 – Break
18:00-19:00 – Practicum

Thursday, July 4 – Myanmar

09:00 – 10:00 – Plenary discussion on Iran
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:15 – Benedict Rogers “Myanmar and Human Rights Abuses”
11:15 – 11:30 – Break
11:39 – 12:30– Regina Paulosa “The Rohingya – A Journey through History and Genocide”
13:30 – 16:00 — LUNCH BREAK
16:00 – 17:00 – Kyaw Win ‘”Advocacy and Accountability for Human Rights in Myanmar”
17:00 — 19:00 – Myanmar Discussion

Friday, July 5 – Vietnam

09:00 – 10:00 – Plenary discussion on Myanmar
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Kaylee Uland, “Mapping the Repression Against Civil Society Activists in Vietnam”
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Matthew Vennemeyer “Forensic Geography: The Spatial Science of Evidence”, part I
12:30 – 13:30 – Matthew Vennemeyer: “Forensic Geography: The Spatial Science of Evidence”, part II
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK
16:00 – 19:00 – GROUP PRESENTATIONS: the Avernia Trial

Saturday, 06 July


Sunday, 07 July


16:00-18:00 – IUC Sightseeing Tour of Old City

Monday, July 8 – Cambodia

09:00 – 10:00 – Arthur Green ““Forensic Geography: The Spatial Science of Evidence”, part III
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Arthur Green ““Forensic Geography: The Spatial Science of Evidence”, part IV
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Andrew Cayley “Legal Response to the Mass Atrocities in Cambodia: the ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia)”
12:30 – 13:30 – Andrew Cayley, “The Impact of the ECCC””
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK
16:00 – 17:00 – Plenary discussion
17:00 – 19:00 – Film Seminar “The Killing Fields”
19:00 – 21:00 – Skype Lecture by Farina So, Documentation Center of Cambodia, Cambodia

Tuesday, July 9 – Syria/Former Yugoslavia

09:00 – 10:00 – Plenary session on Cambodia
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Catherine Marchi-Uhel, “UN’s On-going Efforts to Investigate Mass Atrocities in Syria”
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Geoffrey Nice “Prosecuting Mass Atrocities at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia/ICTY”
12:30 – 13:30 – Nevenka Tromp “Transitional vs. Post-Transitional Narrative: ICTY and its Contribution to Legal, Political and Historical Justice”
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK –Group discussions on ICTY
16:00 – 16:45 –Tromp&Nice “Transformative Power of the Art: dealing with the past through films”
17:00 – 19:00 – Film Seminar “The Death in Sarajevo”

Wednesday, July 10 – Former Yugoslavia

09:00 – 10:00 – Plenary discussion about ICTY
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Aarif Abraham “Mass Atrocity Crimes and the European Court of Human Rights: Prohibition, Prevention and Punishment” 
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Sunčana Roksandić “Post-Conflict Croatia: Peace, Security, Justice”
12:30 – 13:30 – Nevenka Tromp “Post-Conflict BiH and the ICTY: Legal, Historical and Politica Narratives”
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK
16:00 – 16:45 – Tromp&Nice “Transformative Power of the Art: dealing with the past through films”
17:00 – 19:00 – Film Seminar “The Frog”

Thursday, July 11 – Kosovo Specialist Chambers

09:00 – 10:00 – Plenary discussion on post-conflict societies in post-Yugoslav states
10:00 – 10:15 – Break
10:15 – 11:00 – Robert Muharremi “Law and Politics of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers”
11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30 – Robert Muharremi “From Organ Trafficking to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers – How Strategic Narratives Shape International Justice”
12:30 – 13:30 – Plenary Discussion
13:30 – 16:00 – LUNCH BREAK
16:00 – 18:00 – ”Film seminar “The Snow”

Friday, July 12

09:00 – 11:30 – Group Presentations

11:30 – 12:30 – Evaluation


Faculty Members

List of students

  • Nevenka Tromp, University of Amsterdam, NL
  • Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC Inner Temple Inn, UK
  • Sarah Son – TJWG, South Korea
  • Kyaw Win, Mynamar
  • Sir Nick Parker, UK
  • Hamid Sabi, UK
  • Andrew Cayley, UK’s Director of Service Prosecutions, UK
  • Sonja Biserko, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Serbia, Serbia
  • Aarif Abraham, International Criminal Lawyer, Manchester, UK
  • Sunčana Roksandić, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Kaylee Uland – The 88 Project Vietnam, USA
  • Shadi Sadr, Justice for Iran, UK
  • Shadi Amin, Justice for Iran, UK
  • Benedict Rogers, Christian Solidarity, UK
  • Regina Paulose, Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate, USA
  • Arthur Green, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Robert Muharremi, American University, Kosovo
  • Mattew Vennemeyer, Canada
  • Aileen Calverley (Canada/UK)
  • Elma Tahmaz, BiH
  • Lyndsey Jones, UK
  • Bionda Rexhepi, Kosovo
  • Wael Aleji, UK
  • Dan Bielefeld, South Korea
  • Yurim Choi, South Korea
  • Scott Stevens, South Korea
  • Matej Babič, Slovenia
  • Nikola Mokrović, Croatia
  • Lama Abu Samra, Jordan
  • Ivana Godulova, Slovakia
  • Veronika Kuszova, Slovakia
  • Hrvoje Fištrek, Croatia
  • Lejla Terzimehić, BiH
  • Gaia Rietveld, Netherlands
  • Catherine Dunmore, UK
  • Jack Barber, UK
  • Chloe Branton, UK
  • Adam Champion, UK
  • Julian Russel, UK
  • Angel Matoke-Njagi, UK
  • Aaqib Javed, UK
  • Alex du Sautoy, UK
  • Melanie Waite, UK
  • Sven Dekleva, Croatia
  • Rehab Jaffer, UK
  • Markus Findlay, UK
  • Ray Wong, Germany
  • Raees Ahmed, Canada
  • Nezemul Hasan, UK


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