Below is a selection of profiles from our past and present students.
Jake Okechukwu Effoduh (Nigeria)
Since 2006 I have been a human rights defender advancing the rights of minorities in Nigeria. I have also been anchoring a local radio programme on human development and governance, syndicated on 120 radio stations with about 30 million Nigerians tuning in weekly. With an LLB from the University of Abuja in 2010, and after gaining qualification to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, I decided to advance my passion for human rights by applying to study at Oxford. It is renowned as one of the best human rights law programmes in the world. Now I currently serve as the Assistant Director of the Council on African Security and Development, a non-profit research-driven collectivity of experts and academics dedicated to a holistic advancement of Africa and its inhabitants.
Tarek Hamam (Canada)
I am a lawyer with an Honours B.A. from the University of Toronto and a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. I have been engaged in issues of law, policy, and human rights in Canada, South Africa, and Palestine. I am currently in Lebanon with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), working on the response to the Syrian refugee crisis. As a grandson of refugees, and having been born stateless, I have a personal and professional interest in international human rights law and transitional justice. This Master’s degree program, which brings together world-class faculty and dedicated students, allowed me to advance my knowledge in these important fields.
Eduardo El Hage (Brazil)
I have been a Federal Prosecutor in Brazil since 2008. Different from many other countries, Brazilian federal prosecutors have a very broad role, encompassing not only criminal prosecution but also the enforcement of economic, social and economic rights; the defence of indigenous peoples; and the enforcement of environmental laws, among other diffuse and collective rights. Being totally independent from the Executive branch, the Prosecutor’s Office can sue the Government on behalf of the Brazilian people. Over the past 5 years I have brought a number of lawsuits before courts in order to implement and promote human rights. The Oxford Master’s in International Human Rights Law has helped me immensely, providing me a new and different perspective on various subjects which I will certainly incorporate into my work. Previously I worked as a lawyer at the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) and as an attorney at the Brazilian National Treasury Office.
Jo-Ann Ding (Malaysia)
I am a writer based in Malaysia and I have written articles and reports on human rights issues, with a focus on freedom of expression and the media. I worked as a lawyer for six years prior to becoming a journalist and have written articles on political Islam and human rights, gender equality and media treatment of LGBT issues. I have also co-written a report commissioned by the Open Society Foundation on the effect of digitisation on the media in Malaysia. I conduct media monitoring for the Centre for Independent Journalism, which advocates for media freedom and freedom of expression in Malaysia. My dissertation topic was on laws in Singapore that affected the freedom of expression online and whether those laws complied with international human rights standards.
Sara Eliasi (Sweden)
Over the past eight years, I have served in various governmental and non-governmental organisations with a focus on human rights and human security in conflict and post-conflict environments. Promoting human rights in fragile and conflict-affected countries requires a holistic understanding of such environments and the interplay between human rights and social, economic, political and other societal processes that are rightly recognized as both complex and difficult to navigate and influence. A human rights perspective is nothing less than the perspectives of individuals, families and communities that are at risk of being deprived of what we all consider fundamental to our survival and well being.
Mariela Neagu (Romania)
I am currently a D.Phil. student with the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. The MSt. in International Human Rights Law has been for me an eye opener towards the importance of academic work and research in policy making. In my career, I Children’s Rights in Romania and I coordinated the European Union’s programmes which addressed reform of the child protection sector prior to the country’s accession to the European Union, as well as other projects related to the Roma minority and development of civil society. My main research interest is related to children in out of was Secretary of State for home care.
José Francisco Sieber Luz Filho (Brazil)
I am a Brazilian lawyer and an international civil servant with the United Nations (UN), currently assigned as a Legal/Protection Officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Mexico City. Beforejoining the UNHCR office in Mexico in August 2013, I initially served with UNHCR as a UN Volunteer and a Legal Consultant, having then served as a professional staff with UNHCR operations in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jordan, Afghanistan and Geneva, in Switzerland, under different legal and protection capacities. I hold graduate diplomas in Law and International Relations from the Pontifícia Universidad Católica de São Paulo, in Brazil, and have since dedicated my career and academic interests to International Human Rights and Refugee Law. Having focused my dissertation on Asylum and the Inter-American Human Rights System, the MSt. programme provided me with a unique and mostly fulfilling opportunity to critically reflect and write on challenges and concerns I was – and continue to be – confronted with in my career.
Michael Strahilevitz (Israel)
I am currently a Country Director for an INGO called Tag International Development, where I work on assisting the development of vulnerable communities and marginalized groups in Burma/Myanmar. Over the past 10 years I have worked in several post conflict, disaster and in-transition countries (Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Mexico) supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of these communities. Working in these complex situations is what led me to seek a Human Rights Law degree. Prior to that I attained an MA in International Development Studies from UvA (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and a BBA in Business Administration from ESGCI (Paris, France).
Click here to read a recent article by Michal.
Jason Wright (USA)
I have served as a judge advocate in the US Army since 2005, and currently serve as a trial defence lawyer at Guantanamo Bay. My prior field experience includes a fifteen month deployment to Iraq where I served as international humanitarian law advisor, and later, as a commanding general’s aide-de-camp. I graduated cum laude from George Mason University School of Law in 2004. From 2004 to 2005 I clerked at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. I believe in the inviolability of fundamental freedoms and that every human being deserves respect and dignity. I chose the Master’s programme to study these issues and to learn how to become an effective advocate in the field.
Click here to read a recent interview with Jason Wright as part of the Department for Continuing Education’s Spotlights on Students series.
Lilly Ching (Costa Rica)
I am a Human Rights Specialist at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States. My job is to provide legal support to desk officers as well as to litigate cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the international tribunal of the OAS. Before assuming this role in 2003, I studied International Relations and pursued my legal studies at the University of Costa Rica. I later served as a Legal Assistant at the Court (1998-2000) and a fellow at the IACHR (2000-2001). From 2001 to 2003, I returned to the Court as a Staff Attorney, which helped strengthen my educational and professional development and experience in both bodies of the Inter-American Human Rights system.
Charles Gould (USA)
I serve as president and chief executive officer of Volunteers of America, one of the United States’ largest non-profit organizations, which assists and advocates for the most neglected individuals: homeless men, women, and children; individuals in or returning from prison; people with developmental disabilities; and seniors. Before this, I practiced law in Washington, D.C., with Arnold & Porter.
Aleksandra Ivankovic Tamamovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
I currently work as Senior Legal Officer with the Mental Disability Advocacy Center(MDAC)in Budapest, Hungary where I am in charge of our strategic litigation programme. Previously I had spent four years as a member of the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights.
Heather Adams (Australia/USA)
I am currently a Human Rights Research Fellow at the FXB Center at Harvard University. I primarily work with Harvard’s Scholars at Risk programme (SAR) whilst simultaneously researching the persecution of the disabled during the Nazi era. It was my interest in disability, in particular the mentally disabled, that drew me to the field of human rights and this course.
Leonardo SC Castilho (Brazil)
I began my university studies in law at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and obtained my Master’s degree in International Development at l’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po). I have been working in the human rights field since 2001, at first with NGOs in Brazil and for over six years with international organizations, mainly with the United Nations in several countries in Latin America, and at headquarters. I currently work as a Human Rights Advisor for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Chile, at the Regional Office for South America. Studying at Oxford provided me with a great opportunity to further develop my main areas of interest: economic, social and cultural rights, and the right to development.
Ann Carney (USA)
As Executive Director of PACDA, Peace and Community Development Alliance, human rights issues have been at the forefront of my work over the past 6 years. I founded PACDA to help meet the needs of small NGOs in developing countries; often countries that are experiencing or have recently experienced conflict and ethnic tension. The reality of abuse and exploitation of minority groups, particularly women and children, and my desire to do something about it, has caused me to start a legal practice in international human rights law. I received a Juris Doctorate degree in 1978 and am a licensed lawyer in California and Illinois.
Lejla Hadžimešić (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
I am currently working with a Swiss NGO called TRIAL that helps victims of international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, enforced disappearances) access the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights or Torture Committees to obtain justice and redress, by providing free legal assistance to the victims. Before that, I worked for nine years with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Mission to BiH as the Human Rights Department Officer in charge of national minorities.During that time, I was also the President of the BiH branch office of an international NGO called the International Committee for Human Rights (ICHR). Apart from my mother tongue, I am also fluent in English, French and Spanish.
Katrina Inkusa (Latvia)
I obtained a BA degree from the Law Faculty of the University of Latvia in the summer of 2003. After that, to build on my knowledge, in June 2005 I attended a summer programme of General and Specialized Courses on Human Rights Law at the European University Institute, Academy of European Law in Florence. Since February 2008 I have been working as a Legal Officer at the Office of the Latvian Government’s Representative before International Human Rights Organisations. My main responsibilities include drafting the government’s observations in cases against Latvia before the European Court of Human Rights, drafting government’s comments and reports for the United Nations organisations, participation in the national Permanent Working Group on the Amendment of the Latvian Criminal Law, carrying out researches into international human rights standards and the compatibility of domestic legislation with such standards.
Yervand Shirinyan (Armenia)
I work as Deputy Director of the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program at the Open Society Institute-Budapest. Most of our activities focus on providing support to human rights NGOs, primarily for conducting systematic human rights monitoring, documentation and legal advocacy, with a specific focus on international protection mechanisms. Before moving to Budapest I have been working at the American University of Armenia. I have an MBA from Case Western Reserve University, Weatherhead School of Management in association with the Central European University Graduate School of Business, Budapest.
Danielle Bell (Canada)
I have worked in Timor-Leste and Afghanistan as a Human Rights Officer with the United Nations for the past six years. My work involves monitoring compliance with international human rights law (IHRL) and investigation of human rights violations. My professional background also includes several years with the Provincial Government of British Columbia and one year in India working for UNIFEM. My interest in human rights developed through extensive travel and academic research throughout Southeast Asia and a range of volunteer human rights activities during my studies at the University of Victoria, where I completed a BA and MA in Asian studies.
Gerrit Jan Pulles (Netherlands)
I studied Dutch and International Law in Utrecht and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The first years of my legal career were spent as a trial lawyer in Amsterdam. I’ve combined this with journalistic writing and with voluntary work in Africa and for Amnesty International. In 2004 I became legal adviser at the department of international humanitarian law of the Netherlands Red Cross and a year later legal adviser of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva. After returning to Amsterdam in 2006 I started lecturing at the University of Amsterdam, teaching public international law and European law.
Eugenia Benigni (Italy)
I have worked on human rights for nearly 10 years, first for the European Commission (EC) Delegation in Russia, subsequently for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). I have focused on issues such as judicial reform, human rights in Chechnya, freedom of expression, torture, gender, freedom of assembly, tolerance and non-discrimination. The dissertation of my first graduate degree (in Foreign Languages and Literature, Russian and English), The Russification of non-Russian Nationalities of the ex-USSR, represented my first attempt to analyse a human rights issue – the right of peoples to use their language. During my work with the EC (2000-2004), I felt the urge to deepen my knowledge of human rights law, in order to enhance my professionalism and career opportunities.In my university years, I was a member of two NGOs, on raising awareness of the Rwandan genocide and on environmental problems in Italy respectively.
Zarko Petrovic (Serbia)
I am a human rights lawyer who has dealt with human rights all my professional life. Initially I worked as a human rights lawyer in Serbia, and then I moved to Central Asia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, working on Freedom House’s human rights projects. In Serbia I conducted advocacy campaigns and litigated cases of human rights violation, for a local NGO, while in Central Asia I had a taste of international NGO work, which aimed at building skills of local Human Rights Defenders to successfully advocate for human rights in their own countries. My work prompted me to write my dissertation on Human Rights Defenders, in an attempt to promote their role, work and their protection on the world stage.