PhD Candidate: Accountability for Human Rights Violations

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 22 Oct 2023

1.0 FTE

Required background
Research University Degree

Organizational unit
Faculty of Law

Application deadline
22 October 2023

Apply now

Human rights violations often occur in complex situations involving multiple actors such as armed conflicts, mega sporting events and climate change. Frequently, various legal regimes operating at different levels (international, regional and national) apply to these actors. As a PhD candidate, you will examine human rights accountability in this complex context.
Many actors contributed to the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, in which over 8,000 men and boys were killed: the Bosnian Serb army that committed the genocide, the state of Yugoslavia which provided support, as well as the UN and the Netherlands through Dutchbat which failed to protect the enclave. Yet not all actors have been held to account for their involvement. Only a few perpetrators were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY); according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the state of Yugoslavia was only responsible for failing to prevent the genocide; Dutch courts found that the Netherlands was only responsible for 10%; and the UN could not be held to account at all.
This PhD project will focus on the issue of accountability for human rights violations in complex situations such as the Srebrenica genocide. When different actors (e.g. states, individuals, international organisations, businesses, armed groups) contribute to human rights violations, it can be difficult to hold them all accountable. This may be due to political or resource constraints, limitations of the law itself (e.g. the immunity of international organisations), and the fact that different legal regimes apply to various actors. As there is no single court before which all these actors can be held to account at the same time, diverse proceedings have to be brought in different jurisdictions - insofar as this is at all possible. In addition, the proliferation of new treaties and mechanisms risks complicating matters further (e.g. multiple UN and regional human rights mechanisms, domestic and international criminal tribunals, future EU accession to the ECHR). The PhD research will examine to what extent and how the interaction between multiple legal systems can fill accountability gaps in situations involving multiple actors.
The research may focus, for example, on the interaction between national, European and international (human rights) law, or between international human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law. The PhD project may focus on one or more case studies. It can - but does not need to - include an empirical component. There is thus sufficient room for you to come up with your own ideas and perspectives.
The position includes a maximum teaching load of 25% (e.g. thesis supervision, lecturing and tutoring).

  • You should have, or shortly expect to obtain, a Master's degree, preferably in law or another relevant field.
  • You have strong analytical skills and excellent academic writing skills, which should be apparent from your CV.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • You are enthusiastic and have perseverance, willpower and the ability to independently conduct scientific research and publish the results.
  • You have a proactive and flexible attitude.
  • You have a good command of the Dutch language or are willing to learn Dutch or improve your Dutch language skills.

We are

The core tasks of the Faculty of Law at Radboud University are education and research. The academic education provided focuses on training all-round lawyers and delivering postgraduate courses for lawyers. The public law-oriented Research Centre for State and Law (SteR) delivers high-quality research that explores developments in the field of public law. It aims to achieve a structural cross-fertilisation between science and practice that results in research that is important for legal science and legal practice. Particularly relevant for this research is the research programme focusing on the interaction between the international and national legal orders.
The Department of International and European Law teaches English- and Dutch-language courses in international and European law. Areas of research include human rights, the rule of law, sustainability, the history and theory of public international law, European competition law and the internal market, and EU institutional law. The department consists of over 20 staff members. You will closely collaborate with your envisaged supervisors: Dr. Annick Pijnenburg (Assistant Professor of international and European law) and Prof. Dr. Jasper Krommendijk (Professor of human rights).
As a PhD candidate, you will also be part of the Faculty's Graduate School , which entails taking part in its activities, including following the PhD training programme.

Radboud University
We are keen to meet critical thinkers who want to look closer at what really matters. People who, from their expertise, wish to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This ambition unites more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University and requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!
We offer
  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €3,226 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,720 in the fourth year (salary scale 10 ).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services . Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions . You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

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Would you like more information?
For questions about the position, please contact Annick Pijnenburg, Assistant Professor at 06 50 01 04 59 or .
Practical information and applying
You can apply until 22 October 2023, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Annick Pijnenburg. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:
  • A letter of motivation.
  • Your CV.
  • A proposal for your PhD research within the broad theme of accountability for human rights violations (max. 1000 words).
  • Your grade lists (Bachelor and Master or equivalent university degrees).
The first round of interviews will take place on Thursday 2 November. The second round of interviews will take place on Thursday 9 November. You would preferably begin employment on 1 January 2024.
We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure . It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.
Apply now Application deadline 22 October 2023

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Dr Pijnenburg, A. (Annick)
Assistant Professor 06 50 01 04 59
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When are you an internal candidate?
You are an internal candidate if you:
  • Work at Radboud University (i.e. have an employment contract with Radboud University).
  • Are a former Radboud University employee receiving unemployment (WW/BWNU) benefits paid by Radboud University (which started less than two years ago or resulted from the discontinuation of your job/redundancy).
  • Currently work as a student employee at Radboud University through the campus employment office.
  • Work as a temporary employee at, or have been seconded to, Radboud University.

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Last modified: 25 September 2023
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