Quick Links

Fellows and researchers

Associate Fellows

Éloge C. Butera

Éloge C. Butera (BCL/LLB 2012, McGill) is a human rights activist with an active involvement in Canadian public life, Éloge has worked in Parliament as a research and legislative assistant to Senator L.Gen. Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d) and as an articling student to Professor Irwin Cotler P.C., O.C., Member of Parliament (Mount Royal) and former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada. Éloge’s research interests centre on international human rights law, transitional justice, conflict resolution, and truth and reconciliation processes around the world.

As an Honorary Witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Éloge bears witness to the harm inflicted by Canada’s residential school system on generations of aboriginal Canadians. During his fellowship with the Centre, Éloge is focusing on the legacy of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set to conclude its work in the fall of 2015.

As a survivor of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, Éloge has spoken to dozens of audiences across Canada about his experience during the genocide and the role that an informed citizenry can play in preventing future mass atrocities and genocides. As an Associate Fellow, he will be working on recommendations to improve the United Nations' capacity for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocity crimes.

Edin Hodžić

Edin Hodžić

Edin Hodžić (DCL 2014) is co-founder, Director and Head of Public Law Program at Analitika – Center for Social Research from Sarajevo, a leading think-tank in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He holds a DCL from McGill University, LLM from the University of Oxford and BA in Law from the University of Sarajevo. Previously, among his several professional engagements, Edin worked on war crimes cases at the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was Editor-in-Chief of The Pulse of Democracy (Puls demokratije), an online publication on legal and policy issues in BiH published by Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina. He worked on a number of research projects and published several books, papers and research reports in the broad field of public law, including a co-edited volume on media and minorities in South-East Europe, and a book on constitutional reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He acted as a consultant on numerous occasions, advising the government and international organizations alike. Recently, Edin advised UNDP and the BiH Council of Ministers in the course of drafting a comprehensive transitional justice strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Edin’s research interests mostly lie in the fields of constitutional law and international human rights law, but he also remains committed to combining insights from political science and political theory. He is particularly focused on exploring the theory and practice of collective and minority rights and complexities of transitional justice.

Noam Schimmel

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. Noam Schimmel was in residence September-December 2014, and remained as a visiting fellow until May 2015. Noam was awarded a Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship by the Humanity in Action Foundation. The fellowship will take place in  June of 2015 and will examine human rights issues in the United States, France and Germany and how they impact national and international policy and diplomacy.

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 researches 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. Schimmel was an O'Brien Fellow in Residence during the summer and fall of 2014 and a Visiting Fellow from January to May 2015.

O'Brien Fellows in Residence

Sarwat Dalal Bashi

In residence April to October 2016.

Sarwat Dalal Bashi is an international human rights and justice specialist with a wide experience in the field of civil society. He worked at the International Rescue Committee in Turkey for more than two years as a Protection and Rule of Law Manager. In 2015, Sarwat became a Fellow of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC) and travelled to the United States, Germany, Bosnia and Belgium to do research and provide advice on migration and integration issues. Prior to his UNAOC role, he worked as a Research Consultant for Human Rights Watch, spending more than a year in the emergency division in northern Syria, investigating, documenting and exposing human rights violations in crisis situations on a rapid-response basis.

Sarwat holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Aleppo, 2005; he has practiced law and legal consultancy for eight years, specializing in criminal and human rights cases. He was honored by the Syrian Bar Association as a Master Lawyer in 2008. He has a diverse portfolio of certificates, such as Protection and Human Rights, International Organization Management, and Conflict/Interfaith Conflict Management and Negotiation – from UNHCR, IRC, University of Geneva, Harvard University, U.S. Institute of Peace, and International Relations and Security Network, respectively. In 2008, he published International Human Rights and Development, a book n which he reflected on the situation of Middle Eastern countries.


O'Brien Graduate Fellows

  • Vanessa Clermont-Isabelle (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Alvaro Córdova (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Rokeya Chowdhry (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Marika Giles Samson (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Claris Harbon (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Róisín Hennessy (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Sabaa Khan (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Shimelis Kene (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Bwighane Mwenifumbo (See Bio on Graduate Students page)
  • Muhammad Rezaur Rahman (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.

Rathlyn Disability & the Law Student Coordinators

Alizeh Ladak - 2015-2016 Coordinator

My passion lies at the intersection of women’s rights and disability rights. I have a Bachelors degree in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa and am currently a 2nd year law student at McGill. My interest in disability rights began when I volunteered with the special needs class in my high school. I then proceeded to teach a weekly yoga class to adults with mental and physical disabilities. I have also worked at the Lyndhurst Centre for spinal cord injury in Toronto. All of these experiences brought me great joy and taught me how to communicate in unconventional ways.

These experiences also demonstrated to me the inequalities and particular challenges faced by this population. I was happy to be participating in the Aisenstadt/Disability series last year! In my free time I enjoy playing sports (especially hockey), going to concerts and travelling. After law school, I plan on pursuing a career in international human rights law. I was an Aisenstadt Fellow at the Centre before becoming a Rathlyn Fellow for 2015-2016.

Iñaki Navarrete - 2015-2016 Coordinator

Iñaki is a fourth year law student at McGill University whose interests lie in human rights advocacy, disability rights and litigation. Before law school, he studied at Collège Stanislas, which he successfully represented in various philosophy and debate competitions.  At the Faculty of Law, he currently serves as Senior Editor with the McGill Journal of Law and Health and as Teaching Assistant in Advanced Civil Law Obligations. In pursuing his passion for oral advocacy, he recently represented McGill at the Charles-Rousseau International Law Moot Competition, where his team’s factum was ranked third overall.

His interest in disability rights began with his internship at Disability Rights International (DRI) in Mexico. He drafted and submitted the merits in the "Federico Mora" case on behalf of people with disabilities detained in Guatemala’s Federico Mora psychiatric institution. Iñaki filed this case with DRI in Washington, before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. He hopes that this case will set a new precedent in challenging the segregation faced by people with disabilities in Latin America. As such, he looks forward to the opportunity of working on the Disability Seminar Series as a way to promote disability rights through education. Iñaki was an Aisenstadt research fellow before becoming a 2015-2016 Rathlyn Fellow.

Steve Payette, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Coordinator

Steve is a BCL/LLB 2016 candidate. He has a MA in Communication from the University of Ottawa and also holds a BA in Communication & Cultural Studies from Concordia University.

His research interests concern conceptualizing Law as a communicative process; semiotic translation; and the (missing) embodiment of normative thinking. He endeavors to become a Quebec Notary and has interned with the Center for Law and Aging.


Aisenstadt Student Researchers

Stephanie Chow

Stephanie Chow is an LL.M. candidate inside the Institute of Comparative Law at McGill University. She has an LL.B. (honours) and a B.A. in international politics from the University of Melbourne, Australia. After completing her law degree, she spent four and a half years with Transparency International undertaking research on anti-corruption and good governance in the Asia Pacific region. From 2011 to 2014, she was based with Transparency International in Vietnam. Stephanie has also worked on a wide range of issues in human rights law. She previously worked as legal case worker for asylum seekers applying for refugee protection in Australia and has worked for Oxfam Australia and Amnesty International. She is also co-founder of Madame Tây, which works with tailors and entrepreneurs in Senegal and Vietnam to address human rights issues in the garment industry. Madame Tây provides a platform for people to trace their garment’s origins back to the individual tailor and learn about the story of its production.

Stephanie’s research interests include the intersection between law, economic development and the reconciliation of traditions. Her LL.M thesis undertakes a comparative study between the adoption of rule of law in China and Vietnam against the broader backdrop of the rule of law paradigm in international development.

Valentine Fau

Valentine has been a Ph. D. candidate in Law at the Université de Montreal since 2014. Prior to joining this doctoral program, Valentine studied at the Université de Toulouse (Bachelor in Law), specialized in International, European and Comparative Law. Then, she integrated the Institute of International Humanitarian Law in Aix-en-Provence, where she graduated with a Master's degree in “Protection of individuals and Human Security” (Protection des personnes et sécurité humaine). She realized a research work about « the difficult balance between need for protection and need for freedom in the approach of the international children rights”. She has also obtained a superior degree on international legal studies for human rights (diplôme d’études supérieures D’Université de Juriste internationaliste de Terrain pour les Droits de l’Homme appliqués).

She is interested in Human Rights, Humanitarian law, as well as the relationship and interaction between the law and the social sciences. In addition to her studies, Valentine enhanced her knowledge of Children Rights by realizing internships. One of them was in Geneva for Humanium, an NGO specialized in the promotion and respect of Children Rights. She also worked in Madagascar in the area of the public health.

Her research project focuses on the question of the adaptability of the law to the social and human realities in the case of children issues, and according to an interdisciplinary approach. She is being supervised by Professor Violaine Lemay, within the Centre de Recherche en Droit Public.

Chloé Normand

In my university studies, I started a bachelor’s degree in elementary school teaching (2009-2011) for which I also worked as a substitute teacher in a school on the south shore of Montreal. I then changed field and started a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and International Law, which I finished in 2014 with a term in Urugay. I am now doing a Law degree at the University of Montreal.

During my studies, I accomplished a few projects. I was a part of the CIDDHU which is the International Clinic for Human rights defence at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM) for which I was paired with a lawyer and another student. During the semester, we worked in partnership with an organism in Mexico that was fighting for migrant rights who travelled from Central America to the United States, through Mexico. We worked on a complaint to the Inter American Human Rights Commission from a few families whose family members rights were violated in Mexico during their journey crossing that country to reach the United States.

When I started my bachelor’s degree in Law at the University of Montréal, I got involved in the Pro Bono Student’s Canada program for which I got assigned a project in the LGBT community. I also did a small research project for CARL (Canadian Association for Refugee Lawyers) in immigration law and criminal law.

Raphael Vagliano

Raphael just finished his 3L year in the B.C.L./LL.B. Program at McGill University. He also holds a BA in Political Science from Columbia University. Prior to beginning law studies, spent a year as a CASA fellow at the American University in Cairo. Before then, he lived in Syria, where he worked as a journalist and teacher, in addition to interning at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Since beginning law school, he has continued to be involved in immigration and refugee law issues through founding McGill’s first chapter of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and completing a clinical placement at the Just Solutions Clinic. He has also gained experience in international human rights and humanitarian law through interning at Human Rights Watch, participating at the Clinique internationale de défense des droits humains de l’UQAM, and working as a legal attaché at the delegation to the UN of the International Committee of the Red Cross. His current research interests lie primarily in international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law.

Visiting Fellows

Marie-Ève Loiselle - April-July 2015

Marie-Ève is completing a PhD at the Australian National University’s (ANU), Centre for International Governance and Justice, where she studies the regulatory influence of physical partitions on territories and nations. Prior to that, she was a research officer on the Australian Research Council’s linkage project ‘Strengthening the rule of law through the United Nations Security Council’, also at ANU.

Marie-Ève has gained experience of international law issues through working at the International Training Centre of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) in Turin, Italy. This role involved developing projects for the promotion of international standards in the area of child labour, forced labour and discrimination in employment. She also interned with the Office of the Legal Advisor to the NATO Communication and Information Systems Services Agency (NCSA) in Belgium. More recently, she visited the New York-based NGO Security Council Report as an Australian Endeavour Fellow. Marie-Ève completed a Bachelor of Law at the University of Montreal, a certificate in Transnational Law from the University of Geneva, and a Master in Strategic Studies from the Australian National University.

Béatrice VizkeletyBéatrice Vizkelety - since 2013

Béatrice Vizkelety, B.A., B.C.L., LL.M., is a human rights lawyer with extensive experience in litigation and as Director of the Legal  Department and  Secretariat of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec. She is presently a Visiting researcher at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and in 2015 was appointed member of the Quebec Bar’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights.

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.  She was also lead counsel in Gaz Métropolitain inc., a case 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, remedies and prevention.