Law student’s trip to Strasbourg and Geneva thanks to the UCLan travel bursary

Valentina Meiksane is a 2nd Year BA Human Rights student who has just returned from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She was able to go because of a UCLan Travel bursary.
Trip to Strasbourg and Geneva

I was awarded with the UK Student Travel Bursary award and went to Strasbourg and Geneva in February this year.

As a second year Human Rights student I developed my trip program in the way which will support my studies at the Human Rights course and will built my work experience in the legal field in relation to Human Rights.

First part of my trip was based in Strasbourg. Strasbourg is an important political and historical centre of Europe and is the seat of number European institutions including the European Court of Human Rights. Thus, Strasbourg is a perfect place for everyone who is interested in Human Rights.
During my stay in Strasbourg I attended the Grand Chamber hearing of the Jaloud v. the Netherlands case at the European Court of Human Rights, which gave me the unique opportunity to observe the Court procedure and meet the most outstanding Human Rights lawyers. Moreover, this visit helped me to become more confident about my current aims and future career.

After the hearing, I attended the information session about the Court’s structure and met the current Human Rights lawyer within the Court who is dealing with the UK cases.
During the next two days I worked at the Court’s library and collected the material for my dissertation.
As a part of my program, I visited the Council of Europe which developed the European Convention of Human Rights and established the European Court of Human Rights. Thus, I gained the understanding of how the Council operates and secure the Conventional rights.

Moreover, I was kindly allowed to work in the International Institute of Human Rights library where I worked on my dissertation.
After a week of hard work and visits to the Human Rights and European institutions, I spent a great time on Saturday visiting museums of Strasbourg and sightseeing.

When the first part of my trip was completed, I went to Geneva to attend the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
The annual Geneva summit is a ‘must’ event for all who is interested and cares about Human Rights.
With its compressed program, it is a perfect place to meet the world most famous Human Rights fighters, lawyers, politicians and hear the heartfelt and horrific stories from those who became victims of Human Rights violations and whose rights and freedoms were cruelly breached.

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The Summit program was divided into 5 sessions. Each session looked at different issues, for example the women’s rights; media rights; fundamental freedoms; authoritarianism and others.
The sessions were led by the world famous Human Rights activists such as Irwin Cotler, the Canadian MP and former counsel to Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov. His opening speech was dedicated to Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid.
One more great speech by William Browder disclosed the issues about Magnitsky case and current situation between Russia and the USA.
The most sensitive moment during the summit was the 2014 Geneva Summit Courage Award given by the UN Watch President to Chen Guangcheng. Born blind, he is a self-taught lawyer who stood up to defend human rights victims in rural China.
I am so proud that I had the opportunity to participate at the summit, meet the famous Human Rights fighters, victims, lawyers and share their stories and feelings with the people who cares and tries to stand up for their rights.
Additionally, I visited the United Nations office in Geneva UNRISD seminar and the International Red Cross Museum.

This trip gave me the unique experience, knowledge and confidence in my future and career.
I collected a large number of first class materials for my dissertation and build up my legal work experience by attending the hearing at the European Court of Human Rights.
I am very grateful to the UK Student Travel Bursary for the funding of my trip.

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Valentina Meiksane
UCLan – BA Human Rights

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