Current Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows


Rouba Essam Al-Salem - Steinberg Post-doctoral Fellow 2017-2018

Rouba Al-Salem's research interests revolve around the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Syrian Refugees and drawing on potential parallels between the challenges and successes that many are facing in their integration experience with those of Syrian refugees in other host countries where private sponsorship has been implemented (ex: Germany).

Rouba holds a PhD in Law from Montreal University's Faculty of Law (2016), where she researched the role of judicial review in a situation of prolonged occupation. She also obtained a Master of Arts in Middle East Politics from Exeter University and a Master of Law in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In the past, Rouba Al-Salem has worked in and on human rights issues as they relate to the Middle East region, including for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the International Organization for Migration, the Ford Foundation as well as for local and regional human rights organizations. She has also conducted research and evaluation based consultancies for the UNDP-Bahrain and the International Center for Transitional Justice (New York) amongst others.

Kims Banda - O'Brien Fellow

Kims BandaKims Banda is pursuing his LLM at McGill University, supported by the O’Brien Graduate Fellows Programme as well as the Disability Rights Fellowship of the Open Society Foundations. He is a practising lawyer in Zambia, where he earned an LLB at the University of Zambia in 2008, and is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK).

From 2010 to 2014, Kims worked for the Legal Aid Board of Zambia as a defence attorney, where he represented indigent clients in both civil and criminal cases. In 2014, Mr. Banda joined the Human Rights Commission of Zambia, first as the Provincial Coordinator for Southern Province, then as Principal Legal Counsel, and finally as Chief of Investigations and Legal Services.

Over the last two years, Kims has developed a deep interest in disability rights. His Master’s research project focuses on the right to participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities in Zambia.

Pierre-Alexandre Cardinal - O'Brien Fellow

Pierre-Alexandre Cardinal Pierre-Alexandre Cardinal is currently a first year DCL 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 omnipresent legacy of colonialism in a world order founded in difference. Under the supervision of Frédéric Mégret, his project engages in the critique of general international law theory, but also in the reconstruction of lost histories and non-Eurocentric world visions, especially China. 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.

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.

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.

J. Mauricio Gaona – O’Brien Fellow

J. Mauricio GaonaMauricio is a Vanier Canada Scholar, an O'Brien Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, and a Saul Hayes Fellow at the Faculty of Law where he pursues his doctorate (DCL). He is recipient of the Dean's Honour Scholarship and Fellowship Award from University of California UCLA, an international scholarship from the Government of Finland in Italy, a postgraduate scholarship from University Externado in France, and four consecutive Honour Graduate Scholarships for Academic Excellence in Colombia.

Mauricio holds an LLM in International and Comparative Law from University of California UCLA (Dean's Honour Scholar), a M2 in EU Law from University of Paris II Assas (First-Class Honours), and an LLB from University Externado (First-Class Honours, thesis unanimously acclaimed and published). His research, supervised by Professor François Crépeau, focuses on global migration, national security, and refugee protection. It proposes a comparative, empirical, and interdisciplinary-analytical model aimed at breaking current paradigms on modern forced migration.

Mauricio has been invited lecturer at McGill and Yale Universities as well as invited official lecturer by the Government of France in South America. His research and academic affiliations include UNIDROIT Rome, BNF Paris, UCLARP Los Angeles, ASIL Washington, CHRLP Montreal, HACLR Columbus and HRC Indianapolis. His publications (books, articles) and media contributions (interviews, op-eds) span different countries and legal systems (see LinkedIn profile). 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 Department of Homeland Security at ICE Federal Detention Centre in Texas.

Xiaoming Guo - Postdoctoral Fellow 2017-2018

 Xiaoming GuoDr. Xiaoming Guo is a 2017-2018 post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, Faculty of Law, McGill University. He is also currently a research fellow at the Center for Human Rights Studies at the Renmin University of China, one of the eight National Human Rights Education and Training Bases in China.

Prior to joining the CHRLP, Xiaoming received his LL.B. and LL.M. from the Capital University of Economics and Business School of Law, and LL.D. from the Renmin University of China Law School, where he was conferred an outstanding doctoral dissertation award (2014-2016). Between 2015 and 2017, he was a visiting scholar at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, the East Asian Legal Studies Center at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and a visiting researcher at the Center for Asian Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Xiaoming is the author of Multidimensional Studies of the New Law and Development: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry toward Comprehensive Development (Law Press China 2016). He is also the translator of The Human Rights Culture: A Study in History and Context (China University of Political Science and Law Press, forthcoming 2018) and Law, Culture and Society: Legal Ideas in the Mirror of Social Theory (Peking University Press, forthcoming 2018).

His research interests mainly cover the fields of human rights law, law and society, law and development, and rule of law and public policy. During his stay at the Centre, he will conduct concentrated research on the new right to development in the post-2015 development agenda and the politics of expertise in the field of rule of law assistance. 

Hanna Haile - Steinberg Postdoctoral Fellow 2017-2018

Hanna HaileHanna Haile’s research and writing interests lie in the fields of international human rights, migration, environmental law, sustainability and intellectual property rights, with a particular focus on the question of how cultural phenomena shape and are shaped by law. Recently, she has been working on a project on the impacts of the activities of copper mining companies on communities living on the Copperbelt of Zambia. Prior to joining the McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, she has worked for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Cornell University, the University of Asmara and the High Court of Asmara.

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.  

Yvana Novoa Curich - O'Brien Fellow

I’m a young lawyer from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP) and a graduate of the Graduate program in Public Law and Good Governance from the same university, where I discovered my passion for human rights, criminal law and good governance. For the past few years, I have researched and worked in these areas. During my last year in the law program at PUCP, I developed a deep interest in the study of corruption-related crimes and their negative impact on human rights. Since then, I have worked for over five years in the corruption research team of the Institute of Democracy and Human Rights at PUCP, an important Peruvian think-tank in the field of human rights.

I have been a teaching assistant in international law, criminal law and anti-corruption at PUCP´s Faculty of law. From 2016 to 2017 I worked at Liber, an NGO specializing in transparency and freedom of expression, where I was in charge of litigating and bringing cases against the Peruvian State, with a particular focus on the violation of access to public information rights and freedom of expression.

Finally, four months before coming to Montreal to start my LLM at McGill Law, I started working at the Ministry of Justice on prevention of human trafficking. Working in the public sector was one of my dreams because I believe that that is the place where one can make real changes in society.

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.

Bwighane Mwenifumbo - O'Brien Fellow

Bwighane Mwenifumbo is an LLM candidate with the Institute of Comparative Law at McGill University and an O’Brien Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. She holds an LLB (Honours) from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College. Her work as a Legal Aid Advocate serving underprivileged people in Malawi opened her up to the challenges faced by people with disabilities during the court process, in the correctional system and society in general. The majority of her clients are women and children, and this has influenced her particular interest in their plight in Malawian society.

Her LLM thesis is a comparative study that examines the implementation of disability rights legislation in relation to women and children in southern Africa. Upon completion of her LLM, she intends to pursue a career as a human rights advocate.

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.

Rapti Ratnayake – O’Brien Fellow

Rapti Ratnayake is currently completing her LLM. at McGill’s Faculty of Law. She completed her LLB at the University of Edinburgh in 2014.

In 2015, she was awarded The Asia Foundation’s LankaCorps Fellowship to work in Sri Lanka during a critical part of the country’s post-war recovery.  Her work involved examining the main barriers to female economic empowerment in the war affected areas of the country. She also conducted research on the re-intergration of ex-combatants where she recommended a multidimensional reintegration process involving economic recovery and social political reconciliation, and examined the support structures for child soldiers and former female combatants.  

Prior to starting her master's, she worked as a Legal Researcher for a think tank advising the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She conducted research on issues of Asian foreign policy, effective immigration policies in promoting diaspora relations, urbanisation and transitional justice.

Rapti recently released a publication titled ‘Post-war realities: Barriers to female economic empowerment in the north of Sri Lanka.’ She has also written for the London School of Economics South Asia Center on how diplomatic ties between Asian cities can combat the pitfalls of rapid urbanisation.

Rapti grew up in South Africa and is of Sri Lankan origin. Her main research interests in transitional justice and international human rights law stem from her exposure to post-Apartheid South Africa and her work experience in Sri Lanka. She has broader research interests in the field of migration, international criminal law, trade law and international dispute resolution.

Raymond Savadogo – O’Brien Fellow

Raymond SavadogoRaymond O. Savadogo holds an LLB with first class distinction in Law, an LLM with distinction in International and Transnational Law. He acted both as a Teaching Assistant in International Criminal Law (LLM course) with Professor Fannie Lafontaine at the Faculty of Law, Laval University (Canada), and as a Professional Researcher of the Canadian Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights. A former student of Laval University, Brussels University – ULB/Solbosch (Belgium) and Catholic University of West Africa (Burkina Faso), he has been accredited as a pro bono member of the Defence Counsel of Callixte Mbarushimana, an Executive Secretary of a rebel armed group in the North of the DRC until his immediate release by the International Criminal Court (ICC). By means of the Clinic of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law, he served as a contractual worker on the ICC Legal Tools Database and assisted the team of victims before the Extraordinary African Chambers established within the Senegalese courts to try the former Chadian President, Hissène Habré.

At the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he also assisted the Counsel for the Defence of Callixte Nzabonimana (Minister of Youth in the Rwandan interim government) as well as the Counsel of acquitted persons namely André Ntaguerura (Minister of Transport and Communications in the Rwandan interim government), Jerome Clément Bicamumpaka (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the Rwandan interim government), Gratien Kabiligi (Head of military operations of the Rwandan Armed Forces then General Brigadier during the genocide) and Casimir Bizimungu (Health Minister in the Rwandan interim government) as part of their post-acquittal relocation.

Received in 2010 as an intern of the Centre for Democratic Governance in Africa and later appointed as an "Associate Field Investigator" of the Afrobarometer Survey on citizens' education to democracy and human rights, Raymond is passionate about procedural and substantive International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law, Legal Theory, African system of Human Rights protection as well as constitutional, judiciary and political reforms in Africa. He is also recipient of several distinctions and honours both in Canada and Burkina Faso, and took part, on behalf of Laval University, to the 25th edition of the Jean-Pictet Moot Competition held in Thailand.

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.