Michael Agi is a doctoral candidate and research assistant at the Institute for International Peace and Security Law of Professor Claus Kreß at the University of Cologne. He also teaches students in criminal law. Agi’s research focuses on the principle of proportionality in international humanitarian law and international criminal law. His dissertation deals with a dogmatical interpretation of the principle in order to make its application more transparent and traceable. As a first-generation German born to Syrian parents, Agi grew up bilingual in a mixture of both cultures in the city of Cologne. Graduating from the University of Cologne with a law degree, he obtained the First State Exam in 2016.
Osamah Al-Fakih is the Director of Media, Communications, and Advocacy at Mwatana Organization for Human Rights (Mwatana), and his research and advocacy have focused on defending human rights against mounting violations by all sides to the current conflict in Yemen. Prior to that, he directed Mwatana’s research unit, leading field investigations into human rights abuses in Yemen. Previously, Al-Fakih collaborated with different local and international organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. He was a fellow at Dejusticia, and co-founded #SupportYemen Media Collective during the 2011 uprising. Graduating with a BA in English Literature from Sanaa University, Al-Fakih’s dedication to defending human rights was inspired by early experiences during the 2004-2010 Sa’ada Wars in Yemen.
Antonella Angelini’s recent research focuses on community-driven grievance mechanisms and her residency at the Human Rights Institute is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Prior to joining the Institute, Angelini was involved as co-lead in a research project on Corporate Social Responsibly at the Law Faculty of the University of Geneva. Her areas of research are general international law, legal theory, and business and human rights. She holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Angelini has acted as a legal expert for the International Commission of Jurists and has been involved in the preparation of cases litigated before the International Court of Justice.
Mehrnusch Anssari is a Ph.D. research fellow at the Institute for International Peace and Security Law at University of Cologne in Germany. Her research pertains to the temporal scope of the right of self-defense once it has been triggered by an armed attack. Anssari began her education in international law at Cologne University with two semesters abroad at Istanbul Bilgi University and National Law School of India University. After acquiring her LL.M. advanced degree in Public International Law at Leiden University, she practiced international law during her legal traineeship program at the German Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna and at the Codification Division of the United Nation’s Legal Office in New York, where she focused on a comprehensive research project, servicing the International Law Commission. Additionally, she was a legal researcher and trainee lawyer at the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
Paula Fischer is a doctoral candidate and research assistant at the Institute for International Peace and Security Law of Professor Claus Kreß at Cologne University. Her research focuses on the use of force in international law but also touches on the international law of sanctions as well as constitutional and criminal law. In her dissertation she explores the issue of errors relating to circumstances justifying the use of force by states. She teaches first year students in criminal law.
Fischer obtained her First State Exam at Cologne University in 2017. She has a LL.B. from Cologne University and a Maîtrise en Droit from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where she spent two years studying French law. Currently, Fischer is a fellow of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service. She loves music and plays the piano and the organ.
Berihun Gebeye is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Constitutional Law at the Central European University. His doctoral research is about how the interaction between liberal constitutional ideals and indigenous African legal and political systems influences the nature and practice of constitutional government in Africa. Drawing from religious studies and anthropology, his research uses what he calls “legal syncretism” as a conceptual framework to understand and explain the nature of the post-colonial African state, its organization, structure, and notion of constitutional rights by taking Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa as comparative case studies.
Gebeye was a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies of the University of Oxford, a Global Teaching Fellow at the University of Yangon, Myanmar, and a Lecturer at the School of Law of Jigjiga University, Ethiopia. He received his LL.B. in Laws from Haramaya University, LL.M. in Human Rights Law from Addis Ababa University, and LL.M. in Human Rights with International Justice Specialization from Central European University.
Dakshinie Ruwanthika Gunaratne
Dakshinie Ruwanthika Gunaratne is an international lawyer specializing in international humanitarian law, human rights law, protection, and UN sanctions. Most recently, she was appointed by the UN Secretary General and served as the International Humanitarian Law Expert on the United Nations Security Council-mandated Panels of Experts on Yemen and Sudan, where she led human rights and humanitarian law-related fact-finding missions to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Switzerland, and Yemen. In 2013, she provided advice on sexual and gender-based violence in Darfur, Sudan to the UNSC Panel of Experts on Sudan.
Gunaratne holds a Master’s in human rights from the University of Oxford and a Master’s in international law from the University of Cambridge. She is an Attorney-at-Law enrolled in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court and a Dental Surgeon enrolled with the Medical Council.
Payal Shah is a human rights lawyer with expertise in conducting international, regional, and national legal advocacy and litigation to secure respect for women's and girls' sexual and reproductive rights. She is the Senior Counsel with the Asia Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center), where she leads the programs on India and the Philippines. Shah’s authored and co-authored articles, fact-finding reports, and policy briefs on women's and girls' rights, including topics of child marriage, maternal mortality and morbidity, abortion, contraception, and women's rights in disaster settings. Prior to her work at the Center, she was a litigation associate with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and worked with the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Dongfang Public Interest and Legal Aid Law Firm in Beijing.
Shah is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was named a Jack Kent and Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and earned a certificate in comparative and international law. She graduated with high honors from Swarthmore College.
Stephen Townley is Senior Program Manager of the TrialWatch Project at the Clooney Foundation for Justice. He previously served as Deputy Legal Adviser at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. From 2011 to 2014, Townley served as Deputy Legal Adviser at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Among other positions, Townley has also served as Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. He received his Bachelor’s from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law School and clerked on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.