Etienne Ruvebana has won the Max van der Stoel Human Rights Award for his PhD thesis. The Max van der Stoel Human Rights Awards 2014 were presented to two PhD students and a Master’s student for their theses at Tilburg University on 10 December, World Human Rights Day. First prize went to Etienne Ruvebana, who was awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen in June for the thesis he wrote about the obligations of states to prevent genocide.
Etienne Ruvebana won € 2,250 for his thesis entitled Prevention of Genocide under International Law; an analysis of the obligations of States and the United Nations to prevent genocide at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. According to the jury, Ruvebana showed courage in writing this thesis on an underexposed, but important topic. He provided very concrete conclusions and made recommendations that can be built upon.
Ruvebana, a lawyer who himself originates from Rwanda, carried out his research in the Department of International Law of the University of Groningen. He studied the obligation to prevent genocide under the terms of an international treaty, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and international customary law. All countries are legally obliged to tackle incipient genocide in the early stages to prevent the worst happening. However, this international agreement, which dates back to 1948, is not being upheld, mainly because there is no body with the mandate to do so, says Ruvebana in the thesis for which he was awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 12 June. He argues the case for more research on international mechanisms that can prevent genocides in the future. After obtaining his PhD, Ruvebana returned to Rwanda and now teaches at the University of Rwanda Law School.
This year, the jury of the Max van der Stoel Human Rights Awards 2014 assessed eleven nominations from the universities of Tilburg, Utrecht, Leiden, Maastricht, Groningen and Amsterdam (both VU and UvA). The Dutch politician and foreign minister Max van der Stoel (1924-2011) was High Commissioner for National Minorities at the OSCE and Special Rapporteur on human rights at the UN.
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