Current Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Pierre-Alexandre Cardinal - O'Brien Fellow

Pierre-Alexandre Cardinal Pierre-Alexandre Cardinal is currently doctoral candidate at the Faculty. After his LLM, also obtained from McGill, Pierre-Alexandre participated in a number of international conferences and events, and published a few works in the area of international legal history, and the relationship between international law and Empire. Developing from his LLM research project entitled “Islam Between Modernity and Coloniality”, his past work analyzed the very ambivalent relationship between European Modernity, colonialism and legal subjectivity in international normative forums.

Pierre-Alexandre’s current work, supported by the O’Brien Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, engages in a critique of the continuing legacy of colonialism and imperialism. Under the supervision of Frédéric Mégret, his project engages in the critique of public international law theory, but also in the reconstruction of lost histories and non-Eurocentric world visions. More specifically, his research looks at the historical formation of the European concept of the state, and how it was historically, and still is today, embedded with racial privileges and biases. He also maintains side projects in environmental and animal law, the inspiration for which comes from his passion for ultra-distance running. He also organizes charity running events, and is very active in the Montreal running community.

Maria Adelaida Ceballos-Bedoya - O'Brien Fellow

Maria Adelaida Ceballos-BedoyaMaria Adelaida is currently a DCL student at McGill's Faculty of Law. She is a Colombian lawyer with a master’s degree in sociology from the National University of Colombia. Her doctoral project, supervised by Professor Shauna Van Praagh, examines gender inequalities in the Colombian judicial system. More specifically, she is studying the factors that facilitate or hinder the entry of women to different levels of the judiciary in the context of state weakness, as found in Colombia.

Before coming to McGill, Maria worked as a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Law, Justice, and Society (Dejusticia), a Colombian think tank dedicated to human rights research and strategic litigation in favor of vulnerable groups in Latin America. She also gained extensive teaching experience at EAFIT University (Medellin, Colombia), where she taught courses on the Sociology of Law, and on Constitution and Citizenship.

Maria Adelaida has worked on numerous socio-legal research projects and co-authored two books on justice and legal profession (with M. García-Villegas). Her work on legal education has also been published by two Colombian peer-reviewed journals.

Rokeya Chowdhury – O'Brien Fellow

Rokeya Chowdhury

Rokeya Chowdhury holds a teaching position in the Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has a keen interest in human rights issues and most of her work addresses issues and concerns relating human rights. Rokeya obtained her LLB (Hons.) in 2009 and her LLM in 2011 from the Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka. She completed a LLM Thesis Program at the Institute of Comparative Law, McGill University in 2013. She is now working on her doctoral studies in the Faculty of Law, McGill University as an O'Brien Fellow.

Rokeya's research areas and interests involve women rights, indigenous rights, comparative law, law and society, law and literature. Rokeya’s proposed doctoral thesis examines the state religion and secularism stand-off in the Constitution of Bangladesh with a law and performing arts analogy. Rokeya has not limited her activities in traditional academic teaching and learning. As a member of Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP), a voluntary research organization run by law teachers and students in Bangladesh Rokeya has coordinated and facilitated events on human rights awareness. She has previously worked with Northern University Bangladesh, UNESCO Madanjeet South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (UMSAILS), Dr, Kamal Hossain and Associates, National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh and Relief International Bangladesh.

Alvaro R. Córdova Flores – O’Brien Fellow


Alvaro is a Peruvian lawyer and a O'Brian Fellowship recipient in Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. He is currently a student in the Doctoral Civil Law Program (DCL) at McGill University's Faculty of Law. He is conducting his research under the supervision of Colleen Sheppard, focusing on the intersections of the politics of identity, indigenous rights and legal realism. His ongoing research explores how non-indigenous judges resolve indigenous rights cases, and how certain judicial approaches can recreate cultural discrimination against indigenous peoples in Peru.

He started the LLM Program at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 2010 under the supervision of Jeremy Webber and Avigail Eisenberg. In his LLM thesis (The Right of Indigenous Self-Determination and the Right to Consultation in the Peruvian Constitutional Tribunal Jurisprudence [2005-2011]) Alvaro explored the relationship between the right of indigenous consultation and the right of indigenous self-determination in the Peruvian context.

Alvaro is a 2004 summa cum laude graduate from the University of Lima School of Law in Peru. He has extensive professional experience in areas of constitutional law and fundamental rights. Since 2004 he has worked at the Peruvian Constitutional Tribunal, and previously he worked at the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2002). He also taught constitutional law (Fall 2010) at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (Lima, Peru).

Isabelle Deschamps - O'Brien Fellow, LLM 2012

Isabelle Deschamps completed a LLM with thesis in 2012 and is currently working on a DCL at McGill's Faculty of Law.

Isabelle is interested in the interactions between commercial law reform, informal business, and culture in West and Central Africa, with a particular focus on women entrepreneurs. She is also exploring the implications of traditional and critical legal pluralist theories for understanding law-making and development in West and Central Africa.

Prior to commencing graduate studies at McGill, Isabelle worked in the commercial litigation department of an international law firm in Montreal from 2001 to 2007 and in London (UK) from 2007 to 2009. She qualified with the Quebec Bar in 2005 and was admitted at the Law Society of England and Wales in 2008 (currently non-practising solicitor).

In the summer of 2009, she spent five months volunteering and teaching French in rural Benin and travelling through neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Following this experience, Isabelle decided to pursue her enduring interests in academics and international cooperation by enrolling in the LLM Program at McGill. She returned to Benin in May and June 2010 to conduct research (including at the Organization for Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa's (OHADA) École Régionale Supérieure de la Magistrature in Porto Novo) in preparation for her graduate studies. At the same time, she volunteered for a Beninese Cotonou-based NGO providing health and education assistance to underprivileged communities.

She completed her LLB at Université de Montréal in 2002 and did a Masters in International Relations at Instituto Ortega y Gasset (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) in 2004. Her thesis, for which she received a grade of "outstanding distinction", examined the legitimacy of political institutions in Canada and the United States at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Isabelle Deschamps currently sits on the board of directors of Danse Danse, a non-for-profit international dance broadcasting organization. In the past, she presided the board of international cooperation organization La Société Mer et Monde and was the corporate secretary for Diagramme Gestion Culturelle, which offers management services to dance companies.

Edit Frenyó - Steinberg Postdoctoral Fellow, September 2018 - June 2019

Edit FrenyoEdit Frenyó’s teaching and research experience revolve around the areas of Transnational Family Law, Migration Studies, Human Rights and Children’s Rights. After having completed her undergraduate legal studies with distinction at the University of Szeged's Faculty of Law, she practiced civil law as a full time notarial clerk in Budapest, Hungary. Ms. Frenyó earned an LL.M. at Boston College Law School in 2010, where she spent the subsequent year as a visiting scholar/teaching assistant, co-developing and -teaching a new course, International Human Rights: Semester in Practice.

As an S.J.D candidate at Georgetown University Law Center, she applied perspectives of law and the social sciences in her doctoral research, to explore the contemporary phenomena of transnational families. Her dissertation, entitled “Transnational Family Migration and the Right to Family Life in the Age of Global Migration”, focuses on the multiple challenges to childcare faced by families of labor migrants, primarily within the European Union, as key to improving the regulatory framework and other strategies surrounding them.

Previously, Ms. Frenyó co-taught the Family Law course at GULC in 2013 and 2014 as an Adjunct Professor working with Professor Judith C. Areen. In 2016, Ms. Frenyó served as an Adjunct Professor at McDaniel College Budapest teaching a course entitled “Children on the Move and the European Migrant Crisis – Status and Rights of Unaccompanied Minors in the European Union”.

In 2018, Ms. Frenyo contributed a chapter entitled "Transnational Families and the Right to Family Life in the Age of Global Migration." to Stark, Barbara and Heaton, ed. 2018. Routledge Handbook of International Family Law (forthcoming).

J. Mauricio Gaona – O’Brien Fellow

J. Mauricio Gaona

Mauricio is a Graduate Supervisor Fellow at McGill’s Faculty of Law and an O’Brien Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. He has received several academic awards from governments, universities, and research institutes in Canada, United States, England, France, Italy, Finland, and Colombia, including the 2018 Principal's Prize for Public Engagement through Media from McGill University and the National Scholarship Vanier awarded by the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). He holds an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from University of California —UCLA School of Law (Dean’s Honour Scholar), a Master 2 in European Union Law from University Panthéon-Assas Paris II—Sorbonne Law School (Cum Laude), and an LL.B. from University Externado (Honours).

Mauricio has been invited lecturer at Yale and McGill Universities as well as invited panelist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT and the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, California UCLA, National University of Singapore NUS, and the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS). He served as Law Clerk for the Chief Justice of the State Council, National Deputy Comptroller for Public Management, and Assistant of the Attorney General of Colombia. He volunteered at the Refugee and Immigration Centre RAICES and served as Legal Assistant before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Texas. Mauricio has been also an active media contributor in Canada, United States, Germany, Costa Rica, and Colombia. His publications (books, peer-reviewed articles, blogs, podcasts, op-eds) and research work (see Linkedin profile) encompass critical intersections of human rights, national security, forced migration, democracy, and technology.

Marika Giles Samson – O'Brien Fellow

Marika (Email) is a British-born, Canadian-trained lawyer with an interest in international criminal justice, international human rights and the rule of law. The O’Brien Fellowship will afford her the opportunity to explore the phenomenon of judicial persecution, that is, the use of the courts to undermine political opposition and individual human rights, under the supervision of Professor Frédéric Mégret. 

Marika grew up in Montreal, and obtained her B.A. in Communication Studies from Concordia University before turning her attention to the law. During LL.B. studies at Osgoode Hall Law School, she spent two years working on a thematic study of the six major United Nations human rights treaties and attended the inaugural Summer Course on the International Criminal Court at the National University of Ireland Galway, as a result of which she submitted an independent research paper on U.S. objections to the ICC. 

After graduating, she clerked for the Federal Court of Canada, articled at Fasken Martineau LLP in Vancouver and then practiced civil litigation for six years before returning to the bosom of academia, and the UK, in 2008. Marika obtained her LL.M. with a specialisation in Public International Law, with distinction, from University College London, submitting a dissertation proposing a framework for the evaluation of amnesties in international criminal law, under the supervision of Professor Philippe Sands QC. She then spent a year as an Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) researching immunities in international criminal law and European refugee law. While living in London, Marika also had two beautiful children and was a key strategist on the campaign to save her local library.

Eunice Leyva García – O’Brien FellowEunice Leyva García

Eunice Leyva García is a Mexican human rights defender. She is an LLM candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Law an O’Brien Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and a Fellow of the Disability Rights Scholarship Program from the Open Society Foundations.

She holds a B.A. in Law from Tecnológico de Monterrey, in Mexico. She has participated in different human rights programs, including at the American University, WCL, in Washington DC, the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Central European University, in Budapest, Hungary and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Since the age of 21, Eunice has collaborated with several NGOs in the advocacy, research and strategic litigation areas, including the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, Documenta, and Instituto de Justicia Procesal Penal. She also worked for the Mexican Federal Judiciary in a Constitutional Court for Criminal Matters, in Mexico City. The main areas of her work have been about torture, enforced disappearance, violence against women, disability rights, people deprived from their liberty, and the criminal justice system. She has been invited, several times, to train judges, prosecutors and public defenders in human rights matters. She has also been invited as a lecturer to different public and academic forums and has collaborated with several articles for human rights publications.

Tanya Monforte – O’Brien Fellow

Tanya MonforteTanya Monforte is a graduate fellow at the McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

She was previously a professor of law and the director of the Human Rights M.A. at the American University in Cairo. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a M.A. in the sociology of law and a B.A. in philosophy. Tanya Monforte has been a visiting professor at Brown University, Addis Ababa University and the University of Texas.

Her areas of research include the intersection of critical security studies and human rights, women's rights and the law of treaties.  


Shimelis Mulugeta Kene - O'Brien Fellow

Shimelis Mulugeta Kene is a Doctor of Civil Law Candidate at the Institute of Comparative Law and an O’Brien Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. His doctoral research, supervised by Professor Payam Akhavan, explores the interplay between authoritarianism, counterterrorism and law by drawing on socio-legal perspectives.

Prior to joining McGill, Shimelis worked in a variety of roles and settings: as Law Clerk at the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court; as a Senior Trainer at Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia (a prominent human rights and social justice organization in the country); as a Human Rights expert at the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE); and as a Child Rights Officer at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

He completed his LLM in International Human Rights with Honors at Northwestern University’s School of Law in 2010, for which he was awarded a graduate legal studies fellowship. Following his graduation, as a Postgraduate Assistant at Northwestern, he conducted field research and wrote an assessment report on the Liberian Juvenile Justice System under the auspices of UNICEF Liberia. While at Northwestern, Shimelis served as a board member and the LLM students’ representative at the Amnesty International USA Northwestern University School of Law Chapter.

Prior to graduate studies, Shimelis earned an LLB from Addis Ababa University, producing a thesis entitled “Civil Trial on Trial: A Critical Evaluation of the Ethiopian Practice of Civil Trial”. While studying for his law degree, he also volunteered for a number of community organizations, teaching basic Ethiopian law and human rights, and contributed a number of book reviews to local papers.

In 2007, Shimelis was a recipient of the Outstanding Applicants Scholarship and participated as a delegate from Ethiopia in the Third Intergenerational Leadership Forum convened by the UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights at the University of Connecticut.

Florence Ashley Paré - O'Brien Fellow

Florence Ashley ParéFlorence Ashley is an LLM candidate with specialisation in bioethics. As O’Brien Fellow, they are studying the normative landscape of prescribing hormone replacement therapy to trans patients as a family physician. Their non-thesis work spans across many areas of law and bioethics, but focuses on the various legal and bioethical issues faced by trans people. Their 2018 University of Toronto Law Journal article “Don’t be so hateful: The insufficiency of anti-discrimination and hate crime laws in improving trans well-being” led to the first-ever special issue on trans law in Canadian history. They are a fellow of the McGill Research Group on Health and Law, as well as recipient of the Bourse Dorais-Ryan for graduate studies on LGBT-related topics.

As an activist, Florence Ashley frequently contributes to public discussions around trans issues in Canada, with bylines in the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, CBC News, Journal de Montréal, and Journal Métro. They are frequently invited to give presentations and guest lectures on various topics relating to transgender people. They currently sit on the Trans Legal Clinic’s Advisory Board and on the Comité trans of the Conseil québécois LGBT.

Rodziana Mohamed Razali - Steinberg Postdoctoral Fellow, September 2018 - June 2019

Rodziana Mohamed RazaliDr. Rodziana Mohamed Razali has researched statelessness since 2013 and completed her PhD at the National University of Malaysia in 2017. Her thesis, entitled “Protection against Statelessness at Birth: International and Domestic Legal Frameworks of ASEAN Member States with a Special Case Study on Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,” was awarded ‘Excellence’ by the Faculty of Law, the National University of Malaysia.

She was previously in the Malaysian Judicial and Legal Service before leaving for her Masters of Laws at the University of Melbourne. She is currently a senior lecturer at the Islamic Science University of Malaysia, Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya (Non-practicing), member of Statelessness Network Asia Pacific (SNAP) and committee member of Refugee Support Group (Malaysia). Her research interests include legal frameworks governing childhood statelessness, international standards on and comparative analysis of birth registration and nationality frameworks of ASEAN Member States and the right to legal identity and prevention of statelessness.

Dr. Razali has worked closely with UNHCR Malaysia and its regional office in Bangkok and was invited to present her research findings at local, regional and international workshops, meetings and conferences. She also helped provide input to UNHCR’s Regional Office for Southeast Asia and ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in developing a research project concerning the right to a nationality for women and children by reference to relevant international standards, focusing on existing international human rights treaty obligations of ASEAN Member States.

She coordinated several workshops addressing among others, the setting of statelessness common research agenda in the Malaysian context and participated in a similar workshop at the Asia Pacific level hosted by UNHCR, Melbourne Law School and Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne. On behalf of her Law Faculty and Refugee Support Group (Malaysia), she initiated and coordinated a workshop addressing family formation and marriage management of the Rohingya in Malaysia and presented her research findings with other invited panellists at the said workshop.

Her published articles have appeared in several journals, including Scopus-indexed journal and Research Paper Series published by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion.

Marina Sharpe - Banting Post-doctoral Fellow

Marina SharpeMarina Sharpe is a Banting Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, where she was previously a Steinberg Fellow in International Migration Law and Policy.

Marina is called to the bars of England & Wales (Inner Temple) and New York, and spent time in private practice at Cravath. She has also worked for Global Canada and the International Refugee Rights Initiative. Marina has undertaken consultancy work for NGOs including Amnesty International and EuroMed Rights, and for international organizations including the African Union and UNHCR. She has taught at the universities of London, Oxford and Sherbrooke, and has guest lectured widely, including at Georgetown and Yale.

Marina’s scholarly work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and edited collections and her book, The Regional Law of Refugee Protection in Africa, was published by OUP in 2018. Marina holds a DPhil in law from Oxford, where she studied as a Trudeau Scholar, an MSc (international development) from the London School of Economics, and LLB, BCL and BA (economics) degrees from McGill.

Lauren V. Steinman - School of Religious Studies

Lauren V SteinmanLauren Steinman is a graduate of McGill University, where she obtained both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies. Her graduate degree was focused in the interdisciplinary domain of Religion, Ethics and Public Policy. This field of study examines the intersection between religious traditions, civil law, ethics, the political sphere and public policy through the exploration of a variety of contemporary legal and moral problems. In this area of research, it is essential to view religious traditions as bodies that are in a constant state of interaction with one another, and whose core principles are in perpetual dialogue with society’s larger legal and governmental institutions.

As a student in the MA program, Lauren’s research primarily dealt with issues related to gender, sexuality, human rights, social diversity and public policy. She examined the ways in which these distinct domains have interacted with the religious sphere in liberal democratic states. Her thesis, “Religion and the Problem of Heterosexism: Sexual Orientation, Prejudice, and Religious Liberty”, specifically examines the problem of heterosexism and religious freedom in contemporary liberal democracies. She analyzed the problem of sexual orientation prejudice and the manner in which discrimination against gays and lesbians is connected to the right to religious freedom.

Currently, Lauren is pursuing studies at the doctoral (PhD) level in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. Given the increasingly fragile and fractured geopolitical climate, she is currently interested in researching the problem of religious fundamentalism, violence and extremism. This area of study fuses together her research interests on human rights and civil liberties with her concern for the problem of terrorism, genocide, mass atrocities and their implications for international human security.

Avian Tang - School of Religious Studies

Avian TangAvian Tang is a PhD student in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University under the supervision of Professors Armando Salvatore and Daniel Cere.

Her dissertation research focuses primarily on religion, law, and public policy in Canada; in particular, the accommodation practices designed to address religious rights and freedoms.

Some of her other areas of research include the relationship between religion and culture, the negotiation of religious identity with national citizenship, religion and national and international politics, and European Court of Human Rights’ decisions on religious rights and freedoms cases.

Chen Wang-Dufil - U Ottawa Law

Chen WangChen Wang-Dufil (LLB, BA, MA, LLM) is a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. She is a socio-legal researcher committed to the following areas of research: immigration and refugee law, public international law, feminist legal theory, social justice, and qualitative research methodology. From 2019 to 2010, she had the opportunity to teach graduate-level courses, such as international humanitarian law and legal theories, in the faculty of law and faculty of social sciences at the University of Ottawa.

Her doctoral project adopts the Institutional Ethnography approach to reveal how social relations within the Canadian immigration system produce differences and inequalities for immigrants. Her research focuses on the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, and immigration status with regards to highly skilled immigrant women’s situation in Canada.

Aside from her doctoral project, she also works with the Refugee Hub at the University of Ottawa on research projects investigating the challenges and opportunities for Rohingya refugees to reunify with their families in Canada.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  1. “Immigration Gridlock: Assessing Whether Canada’s Express Entry an Effective Immigration System for International Students Transition into Permanent Residency?” (2018) Journal of International Students.
  2. “Canada’s Recent Immigration Legal Reforms and the Impacts on Chinese Skilled Migrants” (2016) Jingshi Law Review. [In Chinese]

UN Publication

  1. contributed one supplementary to “Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs” published by the United Nations, Office of Legal Affairs, Codification Division

Book Review

  1. “Ruling Before the Law: The Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia [book review]” Journal of East Asian Studies (SSCI) 2019
  2. “Domestic Workers of the World Unite! A Global Movement for Dignity and Human Rights [book review]” Canadian Journal of Sociology- Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie (SSCI) 2019
  3. “White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-racial Society [book review]” Canadian journal of Sociology- Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie (SSCI) 2018
  4. “Women's Human Rights and Migration: Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States and India [book review]” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies (SSCI) 2018

Vishakha Wijenayake – O’Brien Fellow

Vishakha WijenayakeCurrently a DCL candidate at McGill's Faculty of Law, Vishakha Wijenayake completed her LLB (Hons) at University of Colombo where she was given the Most Outstanding Student Award. During her undergraduate studies, she was was twice awarded best national level mooter award at the Jessup Competition.

Vishakha obtained her LLM from University of Michigan Ann Arbor, where she was a Fulbright scholar and a Hugo Grotius Fellow. She has worked as a lecturer in law at University of Jaffna and a visiting lecturer at University of Colombo. She also worked in the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva as an associate where she was involved in the Customary IHL project, as well as conducted research for the updated Commentaries to the Second and Third Geneva Conventions. She also worked as a legal adviser in the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka where her work dealt mainly with the issue of the missing and the disappeared in Sri Lanka. In addition to this, she has also worked on projects with NGOs such as Transparency International, Center for Poverty Analysis, Center for Women's Research and Law and Society Trust.

She has published books, chapters and peer reviewed articles on conflict, human rights and international humanitarian law. Her interests include human rights, international humanitarian law, and transitional justice.