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Congratulations to the 2023
John Peters Humphrey Fellowship Recipients


Siena Anstis

PhD Candidate,

University of Oslo

Proposed Program of Study

International human rights law and the practice of transnational repression.

I am studying how international human rights law addresses the practice of transnational repression. Transnational repression arises where governments target their nationals who live abroad in order to prevent acts of political or social dissent or, in other words, to silence them. This includes, for example, the targeted surveillance of dissidents abroad with intrusive spyware, or the kidnapping and killing of dissidents in exile such as Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Increased global migration and refugee flows, the growing capabilities for repression in an Internet-connected and globalized world, and the lack of consequences for engaging in such activities have contributed to transnational repression becoming an increasingly common practice mirroring the global spread of authoritarianism. The expansion of transnational repression is of particular concern because of its ability to impede transnational advocacy by communities in exile seeking political and social change in their country of origin.


Recognizing these concerns, social scientists have begun to analyze and study the practice of transnational repression as a unique dimension of authoritarianism. Initial research has focused on understanding the nature and impact of transnational repression on targeted communities. More recent literature begins to consider the role of host states and international organizations in enabling or facilitating transnational repression.

This PhD project aims to build on emerging research by translating the concept of transnational repression into the legal domain and examining the legality of such activities under international human rights law. 

LL.M., Cambridge University
BCL/LL.B., McGill
B.A., Con
cordia University

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Catherine Savard

D.Phil. in Law Candidate

Oxford University

Proposed Program of Study

Title: The House is Burning: The Prohibition of Ecocide under International Law


As the impacts of climate change are dramatically worsening, calls for an international prohibition of the destruction of ecosystems have multiplied in recent years. While the term “ecocide” has been in use since the 1970s, the burgeoning field of the law of ecocide recently reached a turning point. In 2021, a group of experts spearheaded by the Stop Ecocide Foundation coined the first international definition of this concept: “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.” This definition, though not binding, opens a wide door towards an effective prohibition of ecocide at the international level.

This thesis will provide an in-depth understanding of the most salient issues surrounding the emerging prohibition of “ecocide” under international law. I will argue that various pathways can allow for an effective international prohibition of ecocide, and that a multi-faceted enforcement should be accompanied by a widespread implementation of this prohibition in domestic law. 

The first part of this thesis will contextualize the emergence of the international prohibition of ecocide, exploring its relationship to the complex definitional issues inherent to this concept. I will argue that the prohibition of ecocide has the potential to contribute to a much-needed decolonization of international law, as it challenges the traditional dominance of anthropocentric — rather than ecocentric — approaches to international law. It also contributes to amplifying Indigenous peoples’ voices, notably in transitional justice contexts.

The second part will explore various pathways to enshrine a binding prohibition against ecocide in international law. I will consider potential issues surrounding the prohibition’s implementation in international criminal law, humanitarian law, and human rights law, highlighting the complementary nature of these different pathways. 

Lastly, I will argue that the future of the prohibition of ecocide lies in part within the hands of national courts. Whereas the prosecution of corporations for international crimes has traditionally remained out of the reach of international courts, the domestic implementation of the prohibition of ecocide would allow for corporations to be held accountable, thus further closing the impunity gap for environmental crimes


LL.M., Université Laval

LL.B., Université Laval

DCS, Cégep de Sainte-Foy


Liam Turnbull

LL.M. Candidate

University College London

Proposed Program of Study

Migration Law, Indigenous Rights and Social and Economic Rights

As an LLM student, I want to unpack the disparities and social/economic rights violations facing migrants and Indigenous peoples worldwide through contributing to legal scholarship. I was particularly motivated in law school to understand how social and economic rights, including the right to health and housing, can be better protected in both Canada and abroad. I then began to discover through my work experience and legal education that these rights very often intersect with other legal areas – such as Indigenous rights and migration law. 

My prior experiences have spurred my motivation to further learn how different international human rights bodies can collaboratively address the complexities of overlapping human rights abuses. I intend to further explore these legal issues in my LLM studies and delve into potential remedies for unanswered rights violations through this perspective. For instance, colonial states and their judicial machinery can better respect the social/economic rights of Indigenous peoples and migrants by protecting international rights domestically. Both scholars and advocates need to account for the universality and interconnectedness of these rights as opposed to solely treating them as discrete silos of law and scholarship. I wish to explore at a deeper level the intersections between these three areas while completing my LLM and in my future international legal career.


J.D., University of Toronto

Honours B.A., University of Toronto

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