Fully-Funded PhD Fellowships at Department of European, Public and International Law in Belgium, 2019

Fully-Funded PhD Fellowships at Department of European, Public and International Law in Belgium, 2019

We are seeking to fill four full-time, 40-months, fully-funded PhD fellowships as part of the ERC-funded research project “Righting Victim Participation in Transitional Justice” (ERC-2018-STG- 804154). You will primarily be based at the Human Rights Center at the Faculty of Law and Criminology.

The research project is a multi-disciplinary and multi-method study of the effects of victim participation in transitional justice processes. It studies the long-term (and often unforeseen) effects of this participation on victims and victim communities by analyzing how their perceptions of justice and of what their rights are change in response to their participation in transitional justice processes. The cases under consideration are Cambodia, the DRC, Tunisia and Guatemala. The aim is to map best practices that allow for more victim-oriented approaches to and understandings of transitional justice processes.

The project methodology requires that the PhD candidates spend about three months per year in the – post-conflict- country they are studying, to engage in participant observation, carry out interviews, collect documents, do focus groups and set up experimental designs.


  • We are looking for mature PhD candidates, ideally speaking with a research degree; and/or experience of doing fieldwork in one of these countries or in other post-conflict settings; and/or who speak one or more of the local languages of the case studies.
  • Our working language is English.
  • The question of how to serve justice, facilitate peaceful transitions and empower victims of past large-scale abuses is about as old as the field of transitional justice itself. Increasingly, academics and practitioners are turning to participatory approaches as a promising way to make advances regarding each of these issues. An oft-cited benefit of victim participation in transitional justice processes is that it allegedly increases the legitimacy of these processes by rendering them more locally relevant, and that it empowers participants and turns them into ambassadors of the justice process.
    However, little is known about how to organize this participation in practice or under which conditions alleged benefits (for individual victims-participants or for society at large) are likely to materialize. As a result, participation is often organized in an ‘add-victims-and-stir’ way with little critical reflection about potential unforeseen or long-term effects.
  • Because formal and informal transitional justice processes often face significant practical, financial and political constraints, it is crucial to better understand how participatory approaches can be developed in ways that contribute to a positive and lasting legacy, especially in a world where a vast number of societies is emerging from violent conflict, and where failure to engender durable justice and peace may lead to more instability and ultimately violence.

The main objective of this project is therefore threefold,

  • (1) to conduct a systematic empirical analysis of the scope, nature and role of victim participation in transitional justice processes,
  • (2) to develop the critical victimology framework that is currently missing, and
  • (3) to establish how this framework can be used to conceptualize victim participation in ways that contribute to transitional justice’s goal of engendering just, stable and secure societies.

A multi-disciplinary approach, rooted in legal studies, social psychology, political science, public administration and anthropology is proposed, which allows for a multi-dimensional understanding of these issues, both in academic and in practical terms. The research findings from this project will have the potential to enhance the stability of the global society by creating scientific results and turning them into measurable impact. They will provide policy-makers with empirically supported expertise on pressing policy issues, and, because of the project’s attention to international institutions as well as local contexts, findings will enrich our scholarly understanding of the interaction between these policy levels and apply to many post-conflict settings worldwide.

Profile of the candidate

In order to be eligible, applicants must

  • hold a master’s degree in law, social and political sciences, anthropology or a related discipline;
  • have obtained their degree at the time of application or demonstrate convincingly that they will have that degree in hand by July 1, 2019;
  • be fluent in English as their working language and as their primary publication language;
  • spend longer periods of time abroad for fieldwork and participate in international conferences.

Furthermore, applicants who meet the following conditions will be ranked higher during the assessment procedure

  • good knowledge of the field of transitional justice, victim-oriented approaches or related fields relevant to the project;
  • good knowledge of (at least one of) the other language(s) relevant to the preferred case study;
  • experience with fieldwork, ideally in post-conflict settings, or specifically in one of the four case studies;
  • experience with either ethnographic methods (such as participant-observation, interpretive research design); large-n analysis or legal analysis – and ideally a combination of these;
  • pre-existing networks relevant to the research and fieldwork.

In addition to these project specific elements, we expect candidates to

  • have the ability to work independently and in a team;
  • have excellent academic writing/presentation skills;
  • contribute towards the general well-functioning of the team;
  • have some social media experience, or interest therein;
  • work in a meticulous way and be able to manage deadlines.

How to apply

To apply, please send us:

  • A cover letter outlining how your professional and research experience is relevant for this project, your motivation, and which case study you wish to be considered for
  • a detailed CV (including publication list if available)
  • a transcript of your degree(s)
  • If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.
  • a ‘Certificate of equivalence’ is required for diplomas awarded outside the European Union (This can be requested via http://www.naricvlaanderen.be/en).
  • two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample on a related topic (10.000 words maximum, in English, ideally an academic or research paper).

Applicants are invited to submit these documents (as one pdf file) via email to with the subject line “ERC PhD Application – name of the case study”.


The deadline for submission is January 14, 2019.

The foreseen starting date is September 1, 2019, or soon after.

For inquiries, please contact prof. dr. Tine Destrooper at

For Official notification – Click here.


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