The American Society of International Law (ASIL) announced the nine student and young professional winners of its 2011 Helton Fellowships for projects in international law. Selected from more than 50 applicants from Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Oceania, and North and South America, the students will receive micro-grants of to pursue fieldwork in or research on issues involving international law, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and related areas.
ASIL established the Helton Fellowship Program in 2004 in honor of Arthur C. Helton, an internationally renowned lawyer and advocate for protecting the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons. Helton died in the August 19, 2003, bombing of the United Nations (UN) mission in Baghdad.
Helton Fellows undertake their fellowship fieldwork and research in association with established educational institutions, international organizations, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The following are the 2011 ASIL Helton award recipients:
Allison Davidian, LLM graduate, Harvard Law School. Allison will assist in strengthening the capacity of women’s rights organizations and other civil society groups in Eastern Congo with the Gender Justice Unit of the International Center for Transitional Justice. She will provide input on and advocate for the adoption and implementation of a legal framework that addresses impunity for grave violations of international criminal and human rights law.
Anne Leddin Gell, JD graduate, Columbia University School of Law. Anne will work as a Lawyers’ Earthquake Response Network Fellow with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). Specifically, she will be the coordinator for the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project, BAI’s response to gender-based violence in post-earthquake Haiti.
Sasha Hart, JD candidate, McGill University School of Law. Sasha will be conducting field work and legal research relating to Equality Effect’s (formerly known as the African and Canadian Women's Human Rights Project) “160 Girls” project in Kenya this summer. This legal initiative aims to achieve immediate justice for 160 girls (between two and 17 years of age) in eastern Kenya who have been raped, as well as long-term justice for all girls in Kenya, who are too often victimized by sexual violence.
Alexander Lewis, JD candidate, Rutgers University-Newark, School of Law. Alexander will support Akany Avoko, a children’s home and school in Madagascar that takes in abandoned children, orphans, teenage mothers, and children facing indefinite detention while they await trial for petty crimes. He will develop a human rights curriculum that will be delivered to the children, their parents, and the staff at the home.
Katerina Novotna, Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Law, Masaryk University, Czech Republic. Katerina will participate in an ongoing project run by La Strada, an NGO that focuses on human trafficking, in the Czech Republic. Katerina will be involved with prevention and education work for trafficked persons, groups at risk, and the wider public as well as with providing legal assistance to victims housed in La Strada’s crisis shelter.
Aminta Ossum, JD graduate, Harvard Law School. Aminta will support Amnesty International’s “No Safe Haven” project seeking domestic accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. She will be working with local civil society groups in Sierra Leone to gather legislation, jurisprudence, and other materials to outline Sierra Leone’s relevant legal framework; obstacles to prosecution and the exercise of jurisdiction; procedures for extradition and mutual legal assistance; and state practice regarding immigration, police, and prosecutors.
Daniel G. Thiemann, JD candidate, Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Daniel will support the Arias Foundation based in San Jose, Costa Rica, by conducting research and field work related to international law and conflict resolution mechanisms in the Americas that promote human rights. He will assist in a Technical Cooperation of the Inter-American Development Bank to conceptually design the “Regional Mechanism for Peace and Conflict Resolution.”
Kathleen Thomas, JD candidate, City University of New York School of Law. Kathleen will work on the ongoing efforts of the Saheli Sangh, a sex workers’ collective with the goal of enhancing and enabling greater levels of self-protection among sex workers. Kathleen will be based in Pune, India, and will conduct research into which bodies of law afford the greatest protections for sex workers and victims of human trafficking.
Sanjula Weerasinghe, LLM graduate, Georgetown University Law Center. Sanjula will conduct research on the protection gaps facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees in South Africa. She will be working for ORAM, a US-based NGO, with support from Lawyers for Human Rights. She will develop an interview questionnaire to evaluate, inter alia, the services currently available to LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers, their protection concerns and needs, the responsiveness of NGOs and other agencies, and the practical application of South Africa’s progressive legal guarantees.
The Helton Fellowship Program is administered by ASIL through its Career Development Program. It is funded by a grant from the Planethood Foundation and generous contributions from ASIL members. For more information, visit www.asil.org/Helton. To contribute to the Helton Fellowship fund, visit www.asil.org/Heltongift.
ASIL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational membership organization. It was founded in 1906, chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1950, and has held Category II Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council of the UN since 1993. ASIL’s mission is to foster the study of international law and to promote the establishment and maintenance of international relations on the basis of law and justice. The Society’s nearly 4,000 members (from more than 100 countries) comprise attorneys, academics, corporate counsel, judges, representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations, international civil servants, students, and others interested in international law. For more information, visit www.asil.org.