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O'Brien Fellows in Residence

Annyssa Bellal - 2014

Annyssa BellalDr Bellal will be in residence until early July 2014.

Dr. Annyssa Bellal is an international lawyer, specialised in international humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law. She received her PhD in public international law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Switzerland) and an LLM in Philosophy of Law and History of Human Rights from the University of Lyon and Grenoble (France). She also holds a Master of Advanced studies in International Relations and an MA in Law from the University of Geneva.

Until March 2014, Annyssa Bellal was a human rights officer and legal adviser within the rule of law and democracy section of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, where she dealt with issues relating to peaceful protests, armed non-state actors and was the focal point on the legal aspects arising from the situation in the Central African Republic. In 2012, she was employed as a full-time University Lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway where she taught International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law. Prior to that position, Dr. Bellal was a Senior Researcher at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and Hauser Global Law School visiting scholar at New York University. She also was a legal adviser for the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs within the Department of Public International Law, as well as for the International Committee of the Red Cross where she was the acting Head of the Customary International Humanitarian Law Project.

Her publications and research interests focus on various topics, such the legal framework applicable to armed non-state actors, the use of force during the ‘Arab Spring’, immunity of States and States officials and the commission of international crimes as well as issues relating to the arms trade from a human rights point of view. Her publications include a book on immunities of States and State officials in case of serious human rights violations (Immunités et violations graves des droits humains, vers une évolution du droit international public?, Bruylant, 2011) and award-winning article on ‘International Law and Armed Non-State Actors in Afghanistan’ (International Review of the Red Cross, 2011, SNIS Geneva Award 2011).

Annyssa Bellal will stay in residence until July 4, 2014 and will mainly work on projects related to armed non-state actors.

Semahagn G. Abebe - 2013-2014

Semahagn G. AbebeDr Abebe will be in residence from September 2013 to May 2014. He comes to McGill through the Scholars at Risk Network. McGill Law's Focus online magazine interviewed him for their January 2014 edition.

Dr. Semahagn G. Abebe received his LLM degree in International Economic Law and Human Rights Law from the University of Amsterdam and studied Masters (LLM) and Doctorate Degree (PhD) at the University of Goettingen.  His PhD work focused on federalism and the accommodation of linguistic diversity in the context of the Ethiopian ethnic federal system that has been adopted since 1995.

He has extensive teaching and research experience. He was formerly a lecturer of law at different universities in Ethiopia. In 2012-2013, he was a Bank of Ireland post-doctoral fellow at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway. During the fellowship at Galway, he taught International Trade and Human Rights Seminar course to LLM students. Since 2012, he has also worked as an affiliated faculty at the Center for Intercultural Studies, Saint Louis University.

He has also published a number of articles and his first book is under publication. His articles deals with various issues including financial sector liberalization under the World Trade Organization and the implications to the African financial sector, the opportunities and challenges of adopting ethnic federal system in sub-Saharan Africa,  traditional institutions and legal pluralism in Africa as well as the human rights implications of land grab in Africa. He has also presented various papers in different international academic conferences. In April 2013, he was invited to make a speech on ‘Democracy and Human Rights: The Case of Ethiopia’ in a special event at the University of Geneva.

His book The Last Post Cold-War Socialist Federation: Ethnicity, Ideology and Democracy in Ethiopia addresses the ideological fundamentals behind the structure and function of the Ethiopian ethnic federal system and its implications for building a democratic federal structure in the country. The book is to be published by Ashgate Publishers in February 2014.

You can read him on Goolgule's Law section (Ethiopian blog, mostly in Amharic).

Noam Schimmel - 2014

Noam Schimmel will be in residence June-July 2014

Noam Schimmel earned a PhD in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in January, 2014. He has an MSc in Philosophy, Policy and Social Value from the LSE. His interdisciplinary doctoral research examined American Democratic presidential healthcare reform rhetoric, American healthcare reform policy and politics, and the human right to healthcare.

He served on the faculty of the School for International Training’s comparative human rights study abroad program from January – April of 2014, teaching courses on human rights and facilitating discussion and experiential learning in the three countries in which the program takes place in addition to the United States: Nepal, Jordan, and Chile. 

He is currently researching restorative justice post mass atrocity at the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, with emphasis on restorative justice for survivors of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. He has published on a range of human rights topics including the rights of children, indigenous people, and genocide survivors as well as on development efforts to alleviate poverty and engender and sustain human security. His most recent articles have appeared in the Journal of Human Rights and Human Rights Review. He has also published in Development, Development in Practice, the International Journal of Children's Rights, the International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, and Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, amongst others. 

Noam Schimmel has particular interests in the ethical dimensions of human rights law, the politics of human rights and humanitarian aid, and the role of rhetoric and communication in both advancing and limiting human rights. 

Dzodzi Tsikata - 2014

Professor Tsikata will be in residence February-May 2014.

Dzodzi Tsikata Dzodzi Tsikata is Associate Professor at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana. Her research is in the areas of informal labour relations and the conditions of informal workers, particularly domestic workers; gender and development policies and practices; large scale commercial land deals and the livelihoods of smallholders.

In the last five years, she has focused on two areas: promoting decent work for domestic workers and exploring the livelihood impacts of large scale transnational land deals in Ghana. These two areas are united by a common concern with widespread violations of constitutional and human rights guarantees to non-discrimination and several human rights, including the right to food, home and work, which are guaranteed by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and several African and international human rights instruments ratified by Ghana. Her publications, which have appeared in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal, Feminist Africa, Journal of Agrarian Change and Development, among others, reflect these interests. She was coordinator of the first edition of the Ghana Social Development Outlook 2013, an ISSER Publication on the state of social development in Ghana.

Dzodzi is a member of the McGill's Labour Law and Development Research Laboratory, and the Agrarian South Network hosted by the African Institute of Agrarian Studies in Harare, Zimbabwe. She serves on the International Advisory Board of Journal of Peasant Studies and is on the editorial board of Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy. She is also Vice President of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), a member of the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP), and serves on the scientific committee of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI) at the University of South Africa.

During her close to four months stay at the Centre, she will be writing up some of the findings of a joint study with Professor Adelle Blackett and others. This study, which is under a research project, titled “Evaluating Regulatory Innovation: Labour Law and Development Research Observatory on the Implementation of Decent Work for Domestic Workers” examines four regulatory innovations in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The study aims to identify innovations for supporting domestic workers that can be replicated in other countries.

O'Brien Graduate Fellows

  • Alvaro Cordova (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Marika Giles Samson (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • John Hursh (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Bethany Hastie (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Sabaa Khan (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Shimelis Kene (See Bio on Graduate Students page)

See our page on O’Brien Fellowships for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism for more information on the fellowships themselves, including on how to apply for one.

Post-doctoral Fellows

Hassan Razavi

See his bio on our Current Graduate students and Post-Doctoral Fellows page.

Visiting Fellows

Iyiola Solanke - 2014

Iyiola Solanke Iyiola Solanke is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Leeds, a Visiting Professor at Wake Forest University Law School and an Associate Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. Prior to this she was a Jean Monnet Fellow at the University of Michigan Law School and a Research Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics.

At the School of Law, she leads the LLM module on Alternative Dispute Resolution and also teaches EU Law and Discrimination Law. Her research interests also fall in the fields of EU law, equality law and diversity in judicial institutions, and she conducts empirical legal research in these areas. She writes on anti-discrimination law theory and concepts; intersectionality; independence and diversity in judicial institutions; comparative social action and legal change.

With Matrix Chambers, she organizes an international forum investigating black experiences of policing in the EU and works with Inner and Middle Temples to host events in Leeds for the Temple Women's Forum which aims to support and inspire women in all branches of the legal profession. In 2015, she will organise with the British Academy a conference celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first British Race Relations Act 1965.

Publications include Making Anti-Racial Discrimination Law: A Comparative history of Social Action and Anti-racial Discrimination Law (Routledge-Cavendish 2009), The Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies (co-editor, Volume 14, 2011-12) and articles on internsectionality in the Modern Law Review and the Industrial Law Journal, as well as bibliographic entries (section on anti-discrimination laws in the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism, forthcoming, 2014). Iyiola also writes regularly on EU migration and citizenship at EUtopialaw.

Aurore Schwab - 2013-2014

Aurore SchwabAurore Schwab has been invited by the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism as a Visiting Fellow (2013-2014). In this regard, she has been awarded a scholarship by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

She is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History of Religions at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where she received her MA. She is conducting research supervised by Professor Francesca Prescendi, historian of religion, University of Geneva, and Professor Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff, anthropologist, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. She is analyzing how the United Nations addresses the question of honour killings in terms of religion, tradition, and culture, with an emphasis on the role of Special Rapporteurs, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the CEDAW.

She is the author of “Le crime d’honneur: entre mythe et réalité” in: Sacrifices humains: dossiers, discours, comparaisons, Bibliothèque des Hautes Etudes, Brepols, Paris, 2013. Moreover, she collaborated on the book edition Victimes au féminin, Georg, Genève, 2011. Since 2007, she has been an editorial board member of Asdiwal, Revue genevoise d’Anthropologie et d’Histoire des religions.

Béatrice VizkeletyBéatrice Vizkelety - since 2013

Béatrice Vizkelety, BA BCL, LLM, is a human rights lawyer with extensive experience in litigation and as Director of the Legal Department and Secretary of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec. She is presently a Visiting Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

Member of the Quebec Bar since 1975, she specializes in Discrimination Law and Equality and has frequently appeared before courts and tribunals.  She acted on behalf of the Commission before the Supreme Court of Canada in Bergevin on the issue of religious discrimination and the duty of reasonable accommodation, in City of Montreal regarding the definition of «handicap» and «disability» under human rights legislation, and more recently in Via Rail confirming the rights of persons with disabilities to independent access to transportation. 

Béatrice was also lead counsel in Gaz Métropolitain inc., a case recently upheld by the Quebec Court of Appeal involving systemic discrimination against women seeking access to jobs in a male-dominated workplace. She has been a frequent speaker on human rights and equality both nationally and internationally. Her publications include Proving Discrimination in Canada (1987) and current research involves systemic discrimination and public interest litigation.

Rathlyn Fellows

Nicholas Caivano, 2013-2014 Rathlyn Fellow

Nicholas Caivano holds a BCL/LLB from the Faculty of Law at McGill and a BCom from the Faculty of Management. He researches in the areas of international law and human rights.

He has served as a law clerk at the Quebec Superior Court and as an editor for the McGill Law Journal.

Nicholas has worked for a major Canadian law firm and an international non-profit in New York, and has assisted leading counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada.

He is an associate with the Rule of Law and Economic Development Research Group (ROLED) and has also held an Aisenstadt Fellowship at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

Aisenstadt Fellows

Thanks to a generous gift from the Nussia & André Aisenstadt Foundation the CHRLP now hosts Nussia & André Aisenstadt Student Research Fellows.

Aisenstadt Fellows provides assistance to the CHRLP to further its mandate as a centre for research and action on human rights and legal pluralism.

Fellows are involved in current Centre projects such as the compilation and editing of publications, the development of clinical legal education programs, on-going research projects, and the planning of seminar series and conferences for the forthcoming academic year.

There are no Aisenstadt Fellows for 2014.