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Department of Law - Florence School of Transnational Governance

YALP fellows and Law researchers team up to negotiate peace and justice

Young African Leader fellows and Law PhD researchers had the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience on negotiation and reflect on legal and political questions of peace and justice in the moot seminar 'Negotiating Peace and Justice', hosted by Law Professor Sarah Nouwen.

23 October 2023 | Event


On 12-13 October 2023, 37 participants from the Florence School of Transnational Governance's Young African Leaders Programme (YALP) and the EUI Law Department gathered in a unique seminar on 'Negotiating Peace and Justice'.

Throughout the two days at Villa Salviati, participants enacted roles in a moot peace negotiation process, based on the historic negotiations between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from 2006 to 2008. Unlike a traditional seminar, the format designed by Professor Sarah Nouwen embodied the pedagogical philosophy of experiential learning.

"The strength of the experiential learning format lies in its ability to trigger questions organically," stated Professor Nouwen. "Often, we teach by saying these are the issues and then we ask participants to answer to our questions. In this seminar, however, participants are thrown in at the deep end and they pose the questions on the basis of the experiences then and there: confronted with complex situations, they wonder, for instance, 'when can peace talks start?', 'how does one get agreement on an agenda for peace talks?', 'who gets a seat at the table?', 'why are certain actors so influential even if they have little to do with the situation on the ground?', 'how does one negotiate peace in the shadow of arrest warrants of the International Criminal Court?' and how do 'peace', 'justice' and 'reconciliation' relate to each other?" added Nouwen.

In reacting to her experience in the moot exercise, YALP fellow Leah Tesfamarian shared, "The seminar was very insightful through the roles we played in a real-world event that took place to understand the complexity of attaining peace and justice."

This innovative approach set the stage for immersive learning, personal engagement, and meaningful discussion on the themes of peace and reconciliation. The interaction between the YALP fellows and the Law researchers offered a broad array of perspectives and created a rich learning environment.

For YALP fellow Krishanveni Nagen, the seminar offered a distinct experience. "The mixed format was a great part of the experience," she explained. "For me, the timeout sessions were important as Professor Nouwen would take a break in the discussion and explain the background and interact with our errors and mistakes on the spot, so we could get to know how peace negotiations evolved in a real-life context."

Nouwen, however, emphasised that it is not so much about 'errors and mistakes' but about seeing what happened historically and why, and how we, if ever in those roles, might want to do differently.

Subsequent reflective sessions facilitated in-depth conversations about the complexities of peace, justice and reconciliation, acknowledging tensions and contemplating alternative approaches. YALP fellows shared their experiences from South Africa, Rwanda, Libya, Uganda, and beyond, fostering deep insights into the intricacies of peace and justice. "We had not gotten the opportunity to interact and connect with fellows from the YALP before," shared Gildelen Aty-Biyo, a PhD researcher from the Law Department. "This seminar has been a great experience to connect with such interesting people from different backgrounds and perspectives," she added.

As Professor and organiser of the seminar, Nouwen reflected that one of the aims was to foster a truly interdisciplinary environment. "What is great about the YALP is that the fellows come from many diverse perspectives, not just geographically, but also professionally." The seminar was, thus, an important opportunity for Law PhD researchers and YALP fellows to interact and engage with one another.

YALP fellow Sentle Nell highlighted the significance of the collaborative efforts between the fellows and researchers in this experience, stating: "the collaborative efforts between the YALP fellows as well as the law researchers were important because it gives a different nuanced view from people that come from the continent, that have these lived experiences, but also from the academic research and institutions at play."

The 'Negotiating Peace and Justice' seminar is a powerful testament to the benefits of experiential learning and interdisciplinary collaboration, and reflects the EUI's diverse and vibrant academic community.

Last update: 23 October 2023

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