LL.M. Trip 2011: Sarajevo

In May 2011, the LL.M. students embarked on a two-day study trip to Sarajevo. Through visits to courts and international organizations, the students had the opportunity to learn first-hand about their work in general and about the particular challenges they face in executing their functions in a demanding, post-war environment in particular. Professor Manfred Nowak led the trip and provided valuable insight throughout.

On the first day, the students visited the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and attended a lecture by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mr. Mustafa Aitidir, at the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at the University of Sarajevo.  The meeting at the OSCE left a powerful impression on the students.  The organization has a large presence in the region and tackles a number of taxing issues, including reform of the state’s justice system.  Motivated and inspired, the students moved onto the Constitutional Court, where they were welcomed into a beautiful courtroom, given an informative overview of the Court’s work and the opportunity to ask questions.  The day concluded with a remarkable presentation by Mr. Aitidir, which prompted a lively question and answer session.  That evening, the students learned just how beautiful Sarajevo is when they travelled high into the hills for dinner and looked out onto the breathtaking city at sunset.

The second day was no less impressive and consisted of visits to the Council of Europe, the Office of the High Commissioner and the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  At the Council of Europe, the students learned of its efforts to tackle a number of difficult problems in the region, including segregation in the schools.  The visit to the Office of the High Commissioner, which oversees the implementation of the civilian aspects of the accord that ended the war, was a highlight of the trip.  The students were joined by Professor Hanspeter Neuhold and students from the Vienna Diplomatic Academy for that visit, and met with the High Commissioner himself, Mr. Valentin Inzko, for the full session.  Again motivated and inspired, they moved onto the War Crimes Chamber, which was informative but also heartbreaking.  There, the students had the opportunity to listen to part of a hearing and ask questions of one of the international judges.  Day two ended with a moving trip to the Tunnel Museum, during which the students not only learned about but stepped inside the tunnel that was constructed during the war in an effort to provide a safe route between the besieged city and neutral territory on the far side of the Sarajevo airport.  It was a solemn reminder of all that the people in the region have been through, and of all the work that remains to be done.  The trip left the students with a deep and positive impression of Sarajevo that they could not have gained from a textbook or lecture.

Anna True Katselas and Romina Mattassini de Hill