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Human Rights for Sustainable Development – College Tour with Brianne McGonigle

As the current edition of the Da Vinci program draws to a close, students recently embarked on their final College Tour, offering a unique opportunity to explore yet another facet of sustainability, this time from a legal perspective.

On the wintry evening of January 18th, Dr. Brianne McGonigle Leyh, an esteemed Associate Professor at Utrecht University’s School of Law, served as the special guest. Leveraging her extensive expertise in human rights law, international criminal law, and accountability for serious human rights violations, Dr. McGonigle Leyh shared valuable insights with the participants.

The engaging session began with students being divided into groups and assigned specific cases to delve into. The chosen cases revolved around intricate issues such as compensation for sterilization against one’s will, the documentation of evidence by individuals not affiliated with the legal profession, and the subsequent forwarding of this evidence to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, the participants explored the complexities of holding individuals accountable for serious international crimes. Each group was tasked with comprehending the intricacies of their assigned case and proposing potential solutions, along with a thorough analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the discussed options.

Throughout the session, lively discussions unfolded amongst the students, revealing that the realm of law and justice is far from being a simplistic dichotomy of black and white. Rather, it is surrounded by diverse challenges and varying perspectives. Dr. McGonigle Leyh commented on each statement, supplementing the discussion with examples of real-world legal professionals and organizations striving to resolve complex cases. These legal practitioners often grapple with challenges such as limited access to information and the absence of binding international agreements.

The session concluded with a Q&A segment, wherein students asked questions to the guest speaker. Dr. McGonigle Leyh emphasized that in the realm of law, answers are rarely “yes” or “no” responses. Instead, each case demands meticulous consideration of ethical and feasible solutions.

This culminating College Tour not only reinforced the knowledge acquired throughout the Da Vinci program but also introduced an unexpected and compelling topic. The experience of delving into the intricacies of legal challenges alongside an expert in the field was a delightful surprise for the students. It highlighted the complexity of the legal landscape and left participants with a deeper understanding of the ethical considerations and solutions required in the pursuit of justice.

This article has been written by Pola Marcińczak, Da Vinci Project 2023-2024 student