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

Fayyaz Baqir – May-December 2017

Fayyaz BaqirFayyaz Baqir has just completed a stay as visiting scholar on Gender, State and Civil Society Relations at the Department of Cultural Sciences of the Gothenburg University, Sweden. During 2014/15, he taught and researched on human rights and informal justice at the School of European and International Public Law at Tilburg University, Netherlands. His practice and academic interests include participatory development, human rights, aid effectiveness, poverty alleviation, and social accountability.

He co-designed and taught cross-border videoconference-based courses in partnership with the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) on themes relating to Justice and Peace, Social Change and Human Development in Pakistan for Georgetown University, Harvard University, Wellesley College and Fatima Jinnah University.

Earlier, he served as Senior Advisor on Civil Society for the United Nations in Pakistan. He received a Top Contributors Award from the UNDP’s Global Poverty Reduction Network in 2007 and 2008. He served as National Coordinator of UNDP’s flagship small grants programs LIFE, GEF/SGP and PTF from 1993-2005. Due to the extraordinary performance of these small grants programs, he received an Outstanding Performance Award by the UNDP Country Office in 2004, for creating a vibrant small grants program for low-income communities in Pakistan. 

Lauren Curatolo – Sept-Dec 2017

Lauren CuratoloLauren Curatolo, Esq. is a practicing criminal defense trial attorney at The Legal Aid Society in Queens, New York. She has provided legal representation to hundreds of indigent clients faced with complex legal and social issues. Lauren works to mitigate the devastating collateral consequences her clients face as a result of their felony and misdemeanor charges, and to address the systemic injustices within the criminal justice system. The Legal Aid Society's Criminal Practice is the largest public defender program in the U.S. and serves as the primary provider of indigent defense services in New York City. 

Lauren attended City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, the premier public interest law school in the U.S.. While at CUNY Law, Lauren was in the International Women's Human Rights Clinic. She worked with Legal Aid's Exploitation Intervention Project to represent and advocate on behalf of survivors of sex trafficking. Lauren also traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake had displaced  thousands of people there and worked with a team from her clinic to interview survivors of sexual violence living in displacement camps, engaged with U.N. agencies, and conducted know-your-rights trainings for women's  grassroots organizations on enforcing international human rights standards in Haiti. Lauren also worked for the Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee in Geneva in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Lauren was awarded a full academic and leadership scholarship through the Posse Foundation as an undergraduate student and attended Middlebury College in Vermont. There, she was a Women's and Gender Studies major and received high honors for her thesis, which explored the colonization of the female body in Algeria. 

Lauren's interests are in exploring the feminist voice and the particularized role it plays in elevating the stories and voices of the perceived "Others" who find themselves in the criminal justice system. She is interested in storytelling as a tool in effective advocacy. As an O’Brien Fellow, Lauren will be exploring the ways in which the criminal justice system works to disenfranchise and dehumanize individuals who fall outside of hegemonic and heteronormative scripts. 

Ranabir Samaddar – Oct-Dec 2017

Ranabir SamaddarRanabir Samaddar belongs to the critical school of thinking and is considered as one of the foremost theorists in the field of migration and forced migration studies. The much-acclaimed The Politics of Dialogue (2004) was a culmination of his long work on justice, rights, and peace.

His later writings, The Materiality of Politics (2007) and The Emergence of the Political Subject (2010), signaled a new turn in critical postcolonial thinking. His co-authored work on new town and new forms of accumulation Beyond Kolkata: Rajarhat and the Dystopia of Urban Imagination (2014) takes forward urban studies in the context of post-colonial capitalism.

He is currently the Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group, India.

Laurens van Apeldoorn – Aug-Dec 2017

Laurens van ApeldoornLaurens van Apeldoorn is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and a member of the Centre for Political Philosophy at Leiden University, the Netherlands. His research is broadly focused on the nature and prospects of the sovereign state and his recent contemporary research concerns international taxation in relation to global justice.

He was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Amsterdam where he continues to hold an affiliate position and has also held visiting appointments at the University of Toronto, the University of Montreal, King’s College London, and the University of Leuven. 

While at the Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism, he will work on a research project on tax jurisdiction and human rights.

O'Brien Graduate Fellows

  • Sok Young Chang (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Vanessa Clermont-Isabelle (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Alvaro Córdova (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Rokeya Chowdhury (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Maryse Décarie-Daigneault (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Francesca Farrington (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Marika Giles Samson (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • J. Mauricio Gaona (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Shimelis Kene (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Tanya Monforte (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Bwighane Mwenifumbo (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Raymond Savadogo (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs page)
  • Muhammad Rezaur Rahman (See Bio on Grad Students & Postdocs 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.

Steinberg Post-doctoral Fellows

  • Rouba Essam Al-Salem (See her bio on Grad Students & Postdocs)
  • Hanna Haile (See her bio on Grad Students & Postdocs)

Visiting Fellows

Dia Dabby - January 2017 - January 2018Portrait: Dia Dabby

Dia Dabby is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. She holds a Doctorate in Civil Law from the Faculty of Law at McGill University (2016), where her dissertation explored the place of religion in public schools in Canada. She also holds degrees from Université de Montréal (LL.B, LL.M.) and McGill University (B.A.). She has been a member of the Québec Bar since 2008.

Dia’s teaching and research interests focus on comparative constitutional law, religious diversity, education law, governance and legal methodology.

Her current research seeks to examine transnational religious practices and their place in public institutions.

Thun Saray - 2016-2017

Thun SarayThun Saray studied economics during the 1970s at the University of Phnom Penh and worked at the Sociology Institute during the following decade. He is founder and President of ADHOC, the first human rights advocacy NGO in Cambodia. ADHOC has been protecting and promoting human rights since its inception in 1992.

ADHOC is also a pioneer in opening the political space for civil society organizations in Cambodia, enabling new NGOs to emerge and flourish after the Khmer Rouge and communist regimes. He plays an integral role in Cambodian civil society. Indeed, Thun Saray is founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC, a coalition of Cambodian Human Rights NGOs), the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL, a coalition of Cambodian electoral monitoring NGOs), and a former member of the Board of many other NGOs.

Every year, he coordinates and acts as an editor of many thematic reports on human rights published by his organization. Thun Saray has twice been a political prisoner in Cambodia (1975-1976; 1990-1991), including once under the Khmer Rouge regime. For more than 20 years, Thun Saray has been a tireless advocate for rights and civil liberties in Cambodia.

Marina Sharpe – September 2017-August 2018

Marina SharpeDr Marina Sharpe (marina.sharpe [at] mail.mcgill.ca (email)) is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, Faculty of Law, McGill University, where she was previously (2016-17) one of two inaugural Steinberg Fellows in International Migration Law and Policy. She is also currently the Senior Research Fellow at Global Canada, an organisation focused on bolstering Canada’s impact in international affairs.

Marina received her doctorate in law from the University of Oxford, where she was a Trudeau Scholar. Her thesis, supervised by Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, was about refugee protection in Africa. Marina is called to the bars of England & Wales (Inner Temple) and New York, and spent time in private legal practice at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York and London. Prior to this, she worked as a legal advisor with the Refugee Law Project of Makerere University in Kampala, and later returned to Uganda as legal officer of the International Refugee Rights Initiative. Marina has undertaken consultancy and advisory work for organizations including Amnesty International, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and UNHCR. She has taught at the Universities of London, Oxford and Sherbrooke and has guest lectured widely, including at Georgetown, the University of Tripoli and Yale.

Marina’s scholarly work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and edited collections, as well as by UNHCR. In addition to her doctorate, Marina holds common and civil law degrees from McGill, an MSc in development studies from the LSE and a BA in economics and international development studies from McGill. See her SSRN and Academia.edu pages.

Cassandra Steer - September 2016 - September 2017

Portrait: Cassandra SteerDr. Cassandra Steer is the Executive Director of Women in International Security (WIIS) Canada, and a Wainwright Fellow at the McGill Faculty of Law. Formerly she was the Executive Director of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law, and her current main research interest is the application of the law of armed conflict to military uses of outer space. Prior to coming to Canada at the beginning of 2015, Cassandra was a Junior Professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands for 8 years, teaching criminal law, international criminal law, public international law, and legal research methods.

She holds a B.A. (Philosophy) from the University of New South Wales, undergraduate and LLM degrees in Dutch Law and International Law from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in International Criminal Law. She has interned at the International Criminal Court under Judge Navi Pillay in 2004, and been a Visiting Researcher at universities in Argentina, Canada, Germany and the USA, where she was also a Fulbright Scholar.

Currently Cassandra Steer is the member for Canada on the International Law Association Space Law Committee, the Secretary of the IAF Space Security Committee, and a member of the International Institute of Space Law, Women in Aerospace, the Centre for International Peace and Security Studies, the NATO Association of Canada, and the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.

Rathlyn Disability & the Law Program Coordinators

Simone Cavanaugh - 2016-2017

Simone CavanaughSimone is a fourth year law student completing a major in International Human Rights and Development at McGill University as a Loran Scholar. She has recently completed a human rights internship at the Disability Federation of Ireland and the Center for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland in Galway. Simone is also Equity Commissionner for the Student’s Society of McGill University and a Coordinator of Women in House McGill, a program that seeks to encourage female participation in Canadian politics.

Simone has been a disability rights advocate since a very young age. She is a Childhood Arthritis spokesperson for the Arthritis Society, was the coordinator of the Kids on the Move Camp for children with rheumatological diseases and Viomax, a weekend activities program for children with special needs. Simone is also the founding director of Pivot International, a non-profit organization that provides adapted equipment and access to medical services for children with disabilities in Nicaragua with the goal of helping them achieve their full potential. Simone is eager to forge collaborations and plan an innovative and exciting year for the Disability and Human Rights Initiative.

Melissa Moor - 2016-2017

Melissa MoorMelissa is a third year law student at McGill University. She previously studied education at Queen’s University and political science at the University of Ottawa. Before beginning at McGill, Melissa worked for the House of Commons and participated in the Canadian Political Science Association’s Parliamentary Internship Program. She has also worked in policy at Universities Canada. At the Faculty, Melissa is a member of the 2017 Wilson Moot team, a tutorial leader for first year students and a part of the Law Peer-to-Peer Support program.

Melissa has a long-standing interest in disability rights and has worked for the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance and the student-run Centre for Students with Disabilities at the University of Ottawa. She is a long-time Best Buddies volunteer and worked with youth with disabilities for several summers at Easter Seals Ontario’s Camp Merrywood. Melissa looks forward to continuing to learn about disability law through the 2016-2017 Disability and Human Rights Initiative.


Laura Cullell

Laura CullellLaura Cullell is a Master's graduand in the final stages of her M.A. in International Law and Human Rights from the U.N. Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. She has completed the academic portion and was elected Valedictorian for her Graduating Class.

Laura has received training in International Law, Human Rights Monitoring, UN Systems, Foreign Relations, and Humanitarian Field work. She has also received certificates of completion for courses related to the International Labour Organization, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. During her time at UPEACE, she was responsible for running the Annual Model UN Conference where she coordinated with international universities, UN institutions, and Foreign Embassies in promoting Peace Through Diplomacy.

A Tica native, Laura immigrated to Canada with her mother and brother from Costa Rica. She has lived in France, Peru, Costa Rica and Canada and speaks three languages. She obtained her B.A. in French Studies from York University where she discovered her love of literature and puns. She has spent the last few years working as a legal professional in the private sector, and at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

Laura has a great interest in transnational cybercrime, the ever-evolving digital landscape, and the use of the Dark web as a tool for propagating cybercriminal activity. She is currently completing a certificate as a Cybercrime Specialist from Humber College.

Throughout her career, Laura has gained a great appreciation for human rights in a global context and is very excited to intern at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. She will be interning September to December 2017.