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Elective: Current Issues in Law and Society


Admission requirements

This course is open to students enrolled in the Master Law and Society.


Justice and Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Every nation has its own dark chapters of history and the Netherlands and Bosnia and Herzegovina are not an exception. In this course, we focus on armed conflicts that led to the worst massacres in Europe after World War II: the Bosnian war of 1992-1995. We specifically focus on the Srebrenica genocide of July 1995 during which more than 8000 Muslim men and boys were massacred, despite the presence of the UN Dutch battalion troops (Dutchbat) responsible for safeguarding the enclave Srebrenica. In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (established in 1993) determined that the Srebrenica massacres constituted genocide, and it prosecuted and passed judgement on these crimes. Domestic courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina also try war criminals. Do these judgements bring justice and rule of law? And, who decides this? International actors? You? A Bosnian war/genocide survivor? In this course, you will reflect on the meaning of justice and rule of law by analyzing written and visual materials, but also, and most importantly, by meeting with and interviewing Bosnian war and genocide survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina during a period of fieldwork of approximately 7 days.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is threefold:

1--To reflect critically on your own understandings of justice and rule of law, in general, and in the specific context of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter: BiH).
2--To compare your own visions of justice and rule of law to those of survivors as well as civil society actors, humanitarian aid workers, legal professionals, and academic scholars working in the field of justice and rule of law in BiH. What do justice and rule of law mean to you? What do they mean to a Bosnian genocide survivor?
3—To enhance your socio-legal fieldwork skills, including project development skills (e.g. planning a long-term project; recruiting respondents; storage of data); research skills (e.g. different forms of interviewing, observation, data analysis); and soft skills (e.g. how do you secure informed consent, how do you work with an interpreter?).

Dark chapters in history often receive minimal attention in national history curricula, and BiH and the Netherlands are not an exception. By bringing together different actors’ views on justice and rule of law after war and genocide, and by encouraging debate, this course aims at “closing” dark chapters of European history.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Interactive Lectures

  • Number of 3 hour) lectures: 5

  • Required preparation by students: completion of assigned reading and audio-visual materials; completion of detailed fieldwork plan, including preliminary theoretical contextualization of main research question (why is this question important) and interview questions.

  • Names of lecturers: Nadia Sonneveld and guest speakers

Fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Duration: approximately 7 days (excluding two days of traveling to and from fieldwork site)

  • Name of instructor: Nadia Sonneveld

  • Required preparation by students: students have confirmed date, location and time of the different interviews.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Completed fieldwork plan (20%), fieldwork in BiH (including digitalization of fieldnotes and interview notes in the field) (30%), and a final paper (50%).

  • Partial grades can be compensated.

  • Students who fail the course can do a retake of the final paper, on condition they have participated in the other assessments.

  • Grades are valid for the academic year in which they were attained.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The required readings and audio-visual materials for the course, the subjects taught in the classes, the fieldwork preparation and performance in the field, and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Submission procedures
To be announced.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Course materials will be posted on Brightspace.

  • If you’re keen to get started, the following book and documentary provide important ideas for our class to draw on: Sudetic, Chuck. 1998. Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia, and the BBC documentary series “The Death of Yugoslavia.”


Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: Nadia Sonneveld

  • Work address: KOG, A1.53

  • Contact information: Secretariat KOG (Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden), B1.14

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7493

  • Email:


  • Institute: Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law

  • Department: Van Vollenhoven Institute

  • Room number secretary: KOG (Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden), room B1.14

  • Opening hours: Monday till Friday

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0) 527 7260

  • Email:


In case of (corona)restrictions imposed by the government, this course description is subject to change.