MUNPlanet: Please, introduce yourself and tell us what this Academy is all about.
My name is Knut Traisbach and I am the Programme Responsible of the Venice Academy of Human Rights since 2010. The Venice Academy is an intense and interdisciplinary summer programme on human rights and provides an enriching forum for emerging ideas, practices and policy options in human rights research, education and training. The Academy hosts distinguished experts to promote critical and useful exchange of current knowledge. In addition, the networking opportunities are outstanding and often result in lasting professional and personal contacts worldwide.
MUNPlanet: In case someone is in a hurry, tell us why they should attend your conference in one sentence?
In the words of a former participant: “The Venice Academy is a fantastic experience bringing people dedicated to human rights together from all over the world and providing the best support and academic environment. The finest academic programme I have attended.”
MUNPlanet: Participants will attend your Academy so as to improve their skills. What three skills will they improve the most?
Critical knowledge about cutting-edge research on human rights
Ability to think outside the box and use transdisciplinary perspectives for their own work
Global exchange and networking with peers and leading experts
MUNPlanet: What would you say are the academic background and interests of a perfect participant of your Academy.
The typical participant of the Academy is pursuing a post-graduate degree related to human rights in the broadest sense or works on these issues in the government, in an international organization, NGO or civil society. S/he has a keen interest in intense academic and policy debates and wants to combine intellectual growth with a unique learning environment in one of the most beautiful cultural settings.
MUNPlanet: Organizing such a huge thing, you have to have such a good team. We want to know more about yours!
EIUC has less than 20 permanent staff members and some external professionals who work long hours to make the programmes a reality. In the end, every piece has to come together.
MUNPlanet: Could you tell us more about the Academy’s history?
The Academy was founded in 2010 due to the initiative of Professor Florence Benoît-Rohmer who is the scientific responsible of the Academy. Participation has been growing since, and this year will be the seventh session.
MUNPlanet: Where are your previous participants now? And does your academy have an alumni organization?
Previous participants work at universities and leading research centres, others work in international organisations or for governmental bodies.
MUNPlanet: What do the participants have to look forward to in terms of the faculty and the lectures?
The confirmed faculty includes a distinguished opening lecture by Judge András Sajó (Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights), a general course by Robert McCorquodale (Director of the British Institute for International and Comparative Law) as well as lectures and discussion sessions with Joseph A. Cannataci (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy), Helen Fenkwick (Durham University), Mark Goodale (University of Lausanne) and Geir Ulfstein (University of Oslo). Lectures and seminars will focus on the expansion and resistance to human rights obligations, counter-terrorist laws and policies, restrictions of civil liberties, processes of exclusion and redistribution in society, and the legitimacy crisis of human rights courts.
This includes the opportunity for a number of participants to present and discuss their own “work in progress” such as drafts of articles, chapters of books or doctoral theses and receive comments from faculty members and peers.
MUNPlanet: What’s the inspiration behind this year’s theme ‘’Backlash against Human Rights’’?
International and regional human rights systems have witnessed remarkably outspoken critiques that emphasise a movement back towards the nation State and national sovereignty. The European Court of Human Rights is occasionally openly criticised, if not attacked, for overstepping its competencies and intervening in national affairs. National supreme courts reassert their own status and authority. In addition, fundamental freedoms have been restricted in the name of security and greater national interests. We are also witnessing a new radicalisation of politics that sheds doubts both economically and socially on the viability of the European Union and on other regional integration projects.
The 2016 Venice Academy of Human Rights looks at these developments from an institutional, legal, political and interdisciplinary perspective. Lectures and seminars by the distinguished faculty focus on the expansion and resistance to human rights obligations, counter-terrorist laws and policies, restrictions of civil liberties, processes of exclusion and redistribution in society, and the legitimacy crisis of human rights courts.
MUNPlanet: Venice is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. What will your participants get to see?
The official daily programme usually ends at 4pm and after this participants are free to explore Venice or go to the beach. Of course, they do this not alone but with other participants who over the ten intense days will become friends.
MUNPlanet: In regards to socializing, what can participants expect after the courses?
We have several small get-togethers during the programme where participants get to know each better and can chat with the invited scholars in a relaxed and informal setting. Participants also organise regular meetings for dinner and drinks or trips to other Italian cities over the weekend.
MUNPlanets: What is the most important lesson your participants will learn at your Academy?
Human rights matter...now go out and change the world together.Knut, thank you for devoting your time to MUN Spotlight and telling us more about you and your event. MUNPlanet is looking forward to your event and strongly advises all MUNers to check it out. Good luck and we wish you all the best!
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