Four Westminster Law School students were chosen to attend a European Union-funded international human rights summer school in Vilnius, Lithuania, which took place between 19–27 July 2016.

Law students Shivang Bansal, Anjali Gurung, Maria Marques Matias and Sayeeda Sultana were part of a group of 24 university students from Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, France and the UK who took part in a series of lectures, interactive sessions and trips related to the practice of human rights today.

The summer school, which was part of the project called Europe after the World War 2: Multidimensional Effects of Integration as a Guarantee for State and Human Security (WISE), was led by the Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) in Vilnius, and involved a consortium of European universities including the University of Westminster.

The programme brought together lecturers and students from all the partner institutions and involved a range of events across a number of venues including the Lithuanian Parliament, the Lithuanian Supreme and Constitutional Courts and the MRU Research Laboratories.

Lectures in subjects including international humanitarian law, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial were delivered and students also visited, among other places, the Luskiskes Reform Prison, the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman, the Kaunas IX Fort Museum and the Paneriai Memorial.

The week-long summer school finished with a moot trial at the Lithuanian Constitutional Court, which was won by Westminster Law LLB Honours student Shivang’s team. Shivang said: “It was an opportunity that made me have a joyful summer whereby I made wonderful friends, explored a new culture and country, while also learning a great deal about human rights.”

Human Rights Summer School attendees in Lithuania

Feedback from the Westminster Law School students was very positive. Another Law LLB Honours student, Anjali, commented that “This experience has truly been amazing. As well as learning more about human rights and about Lithuania itself, I had the opportunity to make lifelong friends from all over the world including Poland, Czech Republic and Italy to name a few!”

Team mate Sadie said: “It was such an amazing experience and I have learnt so much from only 10 days. The trip to Vilnius has reinforced my desire to work for a human rights charity at some point and I'm grateful that we were all given the chance to attend.”

Another Westminster Law School student, Maria, who won a prize for the best reflective piece, said: “I learned so much in the summer school, not only about human rights but about myself as well. The time I spent in Vilnius opened up my eyes to a future in international human rights. The ten days of the summer school were intensive but so worth it. I got to know a new country, face a part of history I had never before and I made friends for life.”

Dr Paresh Kathrani, a Senior Lecturer in Law at Westminster Law School and WISE project member, who accompanied the students from the University of Westminster to Vilnius, said: “One of the objectives of the WISE project has been to examine the limit to which the lessons of the Second World War have been learnt. The project has involved many noteworthy events, such as an academic conference in Vilnius in December 2015 and a high school trip to Auschwitz Birkenau in April 2016. The summer school also provided an opportunity for university students to consider how human rights have shaped the world since 1945.”

Internationalisation is central to the University’s strategic vision and identity. We have extensive connections with universities and industries throughout the world and our global engagement strategy seeks to strengthen and deepen those connections ever further. Experiences that enable our staff and students to operate in an increasingly interconnected, internationalised world are key to our approach. For more details on our international partners and global engagement strategy, visit our Global Westminster pages.

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