Edit Frenyó is currently a Hauser post-doctoral Global Fellow affiliated with NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Her teaching and research experience include transnational family law, migration, welfare and social policy. Edit holds a JD from the University of Szeged (Hungary), an LL.M. from Boston College Law School and an SJD from Georgetown Law. Prior to joining NYU, Edit was a Steinberg Post-Doctoral Fellow in Migration Law and Policy (2018 – 2020), at McGill University Faculty of Law, affiliated with the CHRLP and working closely with Prof. François Crépeau.
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.
Rodziana Mohamed Razali
Dr. Rodziana Mohamed Razali holds a PhD from the National University of Malaysia and an LL.M from the University of Melbourne. From 2018 to 2019, she was attached to McGill’s Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism as a Steinberg Post-Doctoral Fellow in International Migration Law. She was previously in the Malaysian Judicial and Legal Service and currently is a senior lecturer at the Islamic Science University of Malaysia. Other than migration law and policy, her research interests focus on the intersection between birth registration, legal identity, prevention of statelessness and rights of the minorities, including refugees and migrants. In 2018, she was appointed as a co-researcher to provide a consultancy service on Analysis of the Situation of Children and Women in Malaysia (2018), a project with UNICEF Malaysia. She has recently been engaged by the Government of Malaysia as a lead consultant to undertake a research to re-evaluate specific policies addressing temporary work permit holders in Malaysia and by UNICEF Malaysia to assess gaps in birth registration for children affected by migration in Peninsular Malaysia. In the course of her research, she has worked closely and collaborated with UNHCR Malaysia, UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness on various talks, trainings and projects.
Johanna Nelles: January – April 2023
Johanna Nelles is a women’s rights expert with a focus on preventing and combating violence against women. Working for the Council of Europe since 2006, she was instrumental in the development of the Organisation’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention after the city in which it opened for signature. This human rights treaty sets far-reaching and innovative legal standards for a wholistic response to violence against women, including prevention, protection and prosecution. Since its inception, Johanna shaped the monitoring of the treaty’s implementation in the 37 state parties, working for the two-tiered monitoring mechanism: the Committee of the Parties and the independent Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women (GREVIO). In this role, she gained extensive knowledge of the level of implementation of the treaty’s obligations in Europe and the contribution it makes to shaping better outcomes for women and girls at risk of such violence.
On sabbatical from her role as Executive Secretary to the Istanbul Convention, she is interested in conducting research on violence against women while building on her practical experience in women’s rights monitoring. Her research interests focus on gender-responsive justice outcomes in criminal and family law for women and girls, in particular in the context of intimate partner violence.
Johanna is a qualified lawyer and a graduate of the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She holds a master’s degree in human rights from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (Venice, Italy) and is based permanently in Strasbourg, France.
Kristen Lyons - September 2022 - November 2022
Professor Kristen Lyons is a public intellectual with over twenty years experience in research, teaching and service that delivers national and international impacts on issues that sit at the intersection of sustainability and development, as well as the future of higher education. Trained as a sociologist, Kristen is comfortable working in transdisciplinary teams to deliver socially just outcomes, including for some of the world's most vulnerable communities. Kristen works regularly in Uganda, Solomon Islands and Australia, and her work is grounded in a rights-based approach. In practice, this means centering the rights and interests of local communities, including Indigenous peoples, in her approach to research design, collaboration, and impacts and outcomes. Kristen is also a Senior Research Fellow with the Oakland Institute.
Andrey Shcherbovich - July 2021 - July 2023Dr. Andrey Shcherbovich ( Complete Academic CV [.pdf]) graduated from the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Law (Department of International Law), Moscow, Russia, in 2008. Between 2008 and 2010, he was a project coordinator in the Non-Governmental Organization ‘Inter-regional Library Cooperation Centre’, working body of the UNESCO Information For All Programme. Between 2011 and 2020 Dr. Shcherbovich has been a lecturer, then associate professor at the Department of the Constitutional and Administrative Law, Law Faculty of the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow (Russia). In September 2013, he completed his Ph.D. degree with a thesis entitled “Constitutional Guarantees of the freedom of speech and right to access the information on the Internet”. In 2019 he was a CyberBRICS research fellow and visiting professor at FGV, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Dr. Shcherbovich’s professional interests are related to Russian public law (constitutional and human rights law) with special regard to international principles of Internet Governance. Among others, he teaches a special course on the human rights of Internet users.
Since 2010, Dr. Shcherbovich has participated in the UN Internet Governance Forum. He writes scholarly monographs and articles on internet governance and human rights on the Internet, and he researches current trends of Internet regulation in Russia. Also, he translates international sources in that field from English into Russian, like the commented version of the Charter of the Rights and Principles for the Internet.
Prof Frans Viljoen is professor of law and Director of the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law (2007-2023). His area of research is regional human rights protection, with particular attention to the African Union human rights standards, institutions and processes, within their socio-economic and political context. He is the author of one of the leading texts on the African human rights system, International human rights law in Africa. He was the founding editor-in-chief of the leading journal on human rights in Africa, the African Human Rights Law Journal, and founding convening editor of the African Human Rights Yearbook/ Annuaire africain des droits de l’homme. He has served as visiting professor on the African human rights system at various Universities, including the University of Peace, Costa Rica, the Sorbonne and Oxford. Frans is the Deputy Chairperson of the Global Campus of Human Rights, an institution bringing together seven Master’s programmes from across the globe in the fields of human rights and democratisation. In September 2021, he was elected as a member of the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council.
Anna Sevortian has joined the Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism (CHRLP) as the O’Brien Human Rights Fellow in Residence for the fall semester 2023.
Anna has over 20 years of experience in supporting civil society and addressing human rights issues in Wider Europe. She serves as Senior Advisor of the Civil Society Forum (CSF e.V.) in Berlin, Germany, an association of non-governmental organizations from 20+ countries, and is Standing Committee member of the Council of Europe’s Conference of International NGOs (CINGO).
Ms.Sevortian has previously been Russia Director at Human Rights Watch, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center Resident and the Starovoitova Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Over the years, she contributed to 40+ research, evaluation and development projects and publications. Anna holds Mid-Career MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and a degree in journalism from the Moscow State University.
Carla Ferstman is a Full Professor of Law at Essex Law School, UK and a member of the Essex Human Rights Centre and Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub. Her research focuses on the intersections between public international law, human rights law, and international criminal law and includes: Conceptualising Arbitrary Detention: Power, Punishment and Control (forthcoming, Bristol 2024); International Organizations and the Fight for Accountability: The Remedies and Reparations Gap (OUP 2017); and Reparations for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Systems in Place and Systems in the Making (Martinus Nijhoff/Brill 2009, revised 2nd ed 2020).
Carla is a qualified Barrister & Solicitor (British Columbia, 1994) and she has worked in private practice, and advises governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations. She is a member since 2018 of the Council of Europe's Expert Council on NGO Law (a specialist body that provides commentary and expertise on the regulation of civil society space throughout the Council of Europe). She is also on the Justice Rapid Response-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts Roster through which she has conducted field investigations and policy work on sexual exploitation and abuse. She was a judge on the Aban Tribunal, an International People’s Tribunal established to investigate atrocities alleged to have taken in place in Iran during the November 2019 protests, which held oral hearings in November 2021 and February 2022 and issued its final judgment in November 2022.
Carla has also worked with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Rwanda (1995 – 1997) and as Executive Legal Advisor of the Commission for Real Property Claims of Refugees and Displaced Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1999-2001). She served as Legal Director (2001-2004) then Director (2004-2018) of the nongovernmental human rights organization REDRESS which pursues justice on behalf of victims of torture and related international crimes.
She holds a DPhil (Public International Law) (Oxon); LL.M (NYU); LL.B (UBC); BA (Philosophy) (Western). She was Fernand Braudel Fellow (2022) at European University Institute (Florence) and Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow (2012/13) at the United States Institute of Peace (Washington, DC).
During her time at the Centre, she hopes to continue her research on international organizations and looks forward to engaging with students, faculty and the wider Centre community.
See our page on Current Graduate Students & Postdocs to see which students have received O'Brien Fellowships.
Katie Pentney - May 2023-2024
Katie is human rights lawyer and DPhil Candidate in Law at the University of Oxford. Her doctoral research analyses whether government disinformation may violate the right to freedom of expression, in particular the public’s right to be informed. The project examines the continued resonance of traditional theories underlying freedom of expression in the modern era, and compares the formulation and interpretation of the right under the Canadian Charter, the US Constitution, and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Katie holds an Advanced LLM (summa cum laude) from Leiden University (Netherlands), a JD from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a BA (Highest Honours) in Political Science, with a Concentration in Gender & Politics, from Carleton University. Her LLM thesis, analyzing five forms of governmental interference with freedom of expression, was awarded the Max van der Stoel Human Rights Award 2021 and is featured among the suggested readings in the European Court of Human Rights’ Knowledge Sharing Platform. She has published articles in the Human Rights Law Review and Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, and has a podcast on hate speech, AI and freedom of expression entitled “Decoding Hate”, which was funded by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
Katie has worked for a number of years in Canada and abroad at the intersection of law and policy on issues ranging from access to information to sexual- and gender-based violence, from climate change to hate speech. Most recently, Katie worked with Global Legal Action Network on a climate change case brought by Portuguese children and young people against 33 Respondent States before the European Court of Human Rights. She provides pro bono assistance to international non-governmental organizations working on freedom of expression issues, and she is an Associate Editor on the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal.
Nancy R. Tapias Torrado - January 2023-January 2024
Nancy R. Tapias Torrado is a human rights lawyer, an international freelance consultant and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculté de science politique et de droit at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Oxford (UK), an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex (UK) and an MPhil and an LLB from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia). Nancy has extensive academic, legal and advocacy experience working on key international issues that intersect human rights, gender, ethnicity, social justice, inequality, social movements and the environment. Using a combination of qualitative methods oriented by a research-action approach and the “braided action” theoretical framework that emerged from her PhD, Nancy’s postdoctoral investigation explores the impact of Indigenous women-led mobilizations on the behaviour of corporations involved in human rights abuses committed in connection to megaprojects in Canada. Her research has been published in top raking publications and will receive the International Studies Association Best Human Rights Dissertation Award in March 2023. It comes out of over a decade of experience working with and for neglected communities and human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk in Latin America, including seven years as Amnesty International’s Americas Regional Researcher on HRDs (International Secretariat, London, UK), and five years as Assistant Professor on Human Rights Law at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. She has consulted for the United Nations OHCHR, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and several organizations, such as OXFAM, CEJIL and PBI.
Slava Balan - 2020-2023Slava (Veaceslav) Balan, LLM'15, is a human rights researcher and practitioner, originally from Moldova, now settled in Canada. In 2008-2014 and 2015-2018, he worked with the United Nations in Moldova, including for three years as national coordinator of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR). In 2005-2008, he served as the mobilization and campaigns coordinator with Amnesty International Moldova, and, in 2004-2007, he lectured at the Moldovan Academy of Public Administration.
Slava Balan holds a Master’s degree in Comparative Law from McGill University (2015), another Master’s degree in Comparative Constitutional Law from the Central European University (2002), and an equivalent of Bachelor in Law degree from the Moldova State University (2000).
Presently, Slava is pursuing a PhD in Law program at the University of Ottawa. His research project focuses on human rights-based approach (HRBA) to international, national and local development, policy, and law-making.
He collaborates with McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, the University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Center, and Moldovan Equality Council.
As part-time international consultant, he contributes to the work of UN Women Ukraine on applying human rights and gender-based approach to local development and decentralization reform. He also collaborates in Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World report, as well as with Moldovan community-based and human rights NGOs.
Slava’s current areas of professional and academic interest include human rights and gender-based approaches to (sustainable) development, policy-making and law, United Nations human rights system, protection of minorities, representation and elections.
Read his contributions to our blog.
Sonia Cancian - 2021-2023Dr. Sonia Cancian is a social historian with an expertise in migration history and personal narratives. She has focused her attention on letters and other personal narratives in an endeavour to underscore shared human experiences that characterize mobility and transnational lives across time and space. Her interdisciplinary work engages with migration history, gender studies, family studies, literature, the history of emotions and experiences, communication studies, memory studies, post-conflict resettlement, phenomenology, narratology, and human rights studies. Dr. Cancian is also an International Member of the McGill Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal.
She holds a Ph.D. in Humanities (History, Concordia University) and has received numerous fellowships, including SSHRC and FRQSC doctoral fellowships, the Women’s Centennial McGill Major Fellowship, and the McGill Eakin Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Studies. In 2008, she and Prof. Donna Gabaccia developed the Digitizing Immigrant Letters project (University of Minnesota), an award-winning research tool on 19th-20th century migrant correspondence. Recent scholarly appointments include Zayed University (Dubai, U.A.E.), the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin, Germany), and the McGill Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal.
Among the new volumes she has authored and edited are: Emotional Landscapes: Love, Gender, and Migration, co-edited by Borges, Cancian, and Reeder (University of Illinois Press, 2021), and With Your Words in My Hands: The Letters of Antonietta Petris and Loris Palma (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021). New projects examine emotions of inclusion/exclusion in global migration history, and memories of violence and migration in post-conflict resettlement.
Mauro Cristeche - 2019-2023Mauro Cristeche is a Researcher at Argentina's National Research Council (CONICET) and Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law at the National University of La Plata (UNLP), in Argentina. He is a Researcher and Board Member at the Institute of Legal Culture (UNLP), where he coordinates the Area “State, Public Policies and Rights”.
His area of research includes economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR), welfare and labor policies, poverty, and inequality. He is also interested in theoretical debates on economic policies and legal issues from a critical perspective. His current project focuses on analyzing some of the main welfare policies in Argentina, their link with the labor market, and their impact on ESCR, and exploring a comparative perspective with other countries.
He holds a PhD in Law from the University of Buenos Aires in 2013. In 2015 he was an Erasmus Mundus postdoctoral scholar at the Department of Public Law, International and Community of University Degli Studi di Padova (Italy). In 2016 he received the Young Researcher Award from the National University of La Plata, for his scientific work at the Faculty of Legal and Social Sciences. In 2017 he obtained a Fulbright scholarship to a postdoctoral stay at the Department of Sociology of Johns Hopkins University (United States). He has developed academic activities in other Universities in Europe and America, and he is currently a visiting researcher at the CRIMT, University of Montreal. In 2019 he is publishing (co-authored) the book “Investigaciones sociojurídicas contemporáneas”. He was an O'Brien Fellow in Residence at the CHRLP from August to December 2019.
Shimelis Kene - November 2020 - December 2023Dr. Kene received his Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) degree from McGill University in 2020. His doctoral thesis, entitled “Third World State Agency: A Postcolonial Critique of Ethiopia’s Antiterrorism Law” interrogates postcolonial and critical international law theories, and argues that neither adequately captures the nuance and agency involved in Third World states’ agentic adoption of Western discourses and instrumentalization of (international) law. His current areas of research interests include international (human rights) law, international criminal law, theoretical and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), and the UN. His ongoing research examines the role of international law in the North-South encounter.
Previously, Dr. Kene worked at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE); the Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court. While in these positions, he worked on several community-based projects related to social justice, international human rights, access to justice, legal empowerment, and development. As Postgraduate Assistant at Northwestern’s Bluhm Legal Clinic, he conducted field research in Liberia under the auspices of UNICEF and wrote a report on the Liberian Juvenile Justice System.
Dr. Kene is a former O’Brien Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. He holds an LL.M in International Human Rights from Northwestern University and an LL.B from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). In his academic and other engagements, Dr. Kene aspires to foster shared and more nuanced understandings of complex intercultural issues and improve intercultural relations. Read his contributions to our blog.
Marina Sharpe - 2023Marina Sharpe is Assistant Professor of international law in the International Studies programme at Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean and Professeure associée with the Faculté de droit at Université de Sherbrooke. Immediately prior to joining CMR, she was Senior Legal Officer with UNHCR’s Representation to the African Union in Addis Ababa. Marina has also been a Post-Doctoral Fellow at McGill’s Faculty of Law, legal officer at human rights NGOs in Kampala, a lawyer with the New York firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and a co-founder and non-executive director of Asylum Access. Marina’s research has been recognised with Canada’s most competitive doctoral and post-doctoral awards: the Trudeau Scholarship and SSHRC’s Banting Fellowship. She is called to bars of New York and England & Wales and regularly advises international organizations, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, UNHCR and UNICEF. She holds a DPhil in law from Oxford, an MSc in development studies from LSE and a BA (economics) and law degrees from McGill. Marina serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Refugee Law and University of Michigan’s RefLaw.org. She is the author of The Regional Law of Refugee Protection in Africa (OUP 2018) and is currently writing a book on humanitarian action, also for Oxford University Press.
Tamara Thermitus - 2020-2023
Me Tamara Thermitus, Ad.E., LLM, 2013, specializes in human rights. Her master’s at McGill Law focused on human rights, notably racial discrimination and defamation from a Critical Race Theory perspective.
She chaired the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse in 2017-2018. For over 20 years, she was a litigation lawyer in the Quebec Regional Office of Justice Canada.
Chief of staff to the Deputy Minister of the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Office in 2003, Me Thermitus was Director of Policy and Strategic Planning from 2004 to 2006. As chief negotiator for the federal government, she helped define the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s mandate, which is at the heart of the historic settlement of the lawsuits brought by former residential schools students, one of the most important settlements in Canadian history.
Me Thermitus has accumulated numerous commitments to counter discrimination. From 2004 to 2010, she was Chair of the Committee on Cultural Communities of the Quebec Bar. In this capacity, she was among the first to raise awareness among the Bar's bodies on issues relating to racial discrimination in the profession and in the judicial system in Quebec. In this context, she directed the writing of several memoirs dealing in particular with racial profiling and racial discrimination.
In addition to being a lecturer on these issues, she is notably behind the development of the course on the social context of law offered by the École du Barreau. In 2014, Me Thermitus was the co-initiator of the project leading to the the Québec Bar’s report: “Forum-Pour une profession inclusive”, Ethnocultural diversity in the legal profession”. In 2015, she was given the mandate to prepare the annual conference of the Québec Bar. She also chaired the Equality Committee of the Quebec Division of the Canadian Bar Association.
Me Thermitus has received several distinctions. In 2011, the Barreau du Québec awarded her its prestigious Mérite du Barreau distinction (2011). She has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal (2012), the Employment Equity and Diversity Leadership Award (Department of Justice, 2010 and 2016) and was a recipient of the Black History Month award (2012). In 2015, she was chosen by a jury chaired by the Hon. Louise Arbour as part of the 40th anniversary of the Charter of human rights and freedoms, for the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse. The same year, the Black Law Students Association presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Read her contributions to our blog.
Sarah Federman - 2022-2023
Dr. Federman is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of San Diego's Kroc School of Peace Studies.
Her book, The Last Train to Auschwitz: The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability (2021), considers the role of the French National Railways (SNCF) in the World War II Holocaust deportations and the conflict that continued in the United States over whether the company has done enough to make amends. She has written related pieces in the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Business Ethics.
Other books include Introduction to Conflict Resolution: Discourses and Dynamics and Narrative and Mass Atrocity: Victims and Perpetrators in the Aftermath (with Professor Ronald Niezen in press).