Nejra Lilić, a third year student of the Department of International Relations and European Studies, attended the Center for Comparative Conflict Studies’ week-long summer school during the preceding summer, namely the course entitled “From Intervention to Non-Intervention: The Triumph of State Sovereignty over Human Rights,” taught by prof. dr. Maxine David.
The Summer School in Comparative Conflict Studies, organized annually at Singidunum University’s Faculty of News and Communications in Belgrade, Serbia, “provides a learning opportunity for students interested in the study and analysis of societies in and post-conflict” and draws from the fields of anthropology, education, history, international relations, law, peace and conflict studies, political science.
It also “provides students with an interactive learning experience utilizing frontal lectures and class discussions focusing on comparative conflict analysis of different case studies” and was “one of the most high-quality, thorough, challenging, and thought-provoking” educational events she had participated in with world-class instructors, according to Lilić.
The lecturer for Lilić’s selected course was prof. dr. Maxine David, a leading expert in the field of international intervention, as well as others. “Her élan as a professor, the way she treats students as colleagues while challenging them, and the motivation she creates from each participant made the course even more helpful,” Lilić said.
The course, “From Intervention to Non-Intervention: The Triumph of State Sovereignty over Human Rights,” analyzed the shift in international affairs from crafting a new world order that fulfilled the fundamental mission of the United Nations by prioritizing human rights over state sovereignty to its reverse, best exemplified by the case of Syria.
The course provided students an opportunity to learn about the “underpinning concepts and competing understandings of (non-)intervention in situations of conflict, state collapse, humanitarian and human rights emergencies.” The focal debate throughout the course was one of non-intervention as a threat to human rights and intervention as a threat to state sovereignty.
Lilić was one of nine students, civil society activists, and professionals from the Western Balkans countries that won a competitive scholarship to attend the Summer School from the European Fund for the Balkans, which is very active in a variety of fields related to the Europeanization of the Balkans, including such academic activities.
“The prior knowledge I had of interventions, the skill of observing cases through various lenses, and a firm theoretical foundation, all of which I had acquired through my courses, provided me with a solid base for actively participating and getting the most out of the summer school,” Lilić explained.
She notes that she gained a new perspective on objective arguments, as well as respecting opposing arguments, since an integral part of the course was peer-led discussions moderated by prof. David, “sort of like the ones I became accustomed to during prof. dr. Adis Maksić’s Contemporary Political Thought course where we debated philosophical ideas.”
“This course provided me with foundations for future research in that area, especially considering the fact that international interventions fall within my primary research interest of ethnic conflicts and nationalism, which is something that I had and have an opportunity to study at the Department and which I plan to master in,” Lilić concluded.