CHRGJ alumni work around the world in human rights organizations, universities, governments, and many other capacities. This page will highlight the accomplishments of former NYU Law students, visiting scholars, fellows, interns, and staff that make up this impressive body of alumni.
Emerson Sykes ’11 always knew he wanted a career in international human rights. After studying Political Science, African History, and French at Stanford University, he pursued a joint JD/MPA from NYU School of Law and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and today works as legal advisor for Africa at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. The former Root-Tilden-Kern scholar recently sat down with NYU Law’s Leslie Hart to talk about his interest in international human rights, his involvement with CHRGJ, and his seminal experience in the Global Justice Clinic taught by Professor Margaret Satterthwaite ’99.
How did you become interested in a career in international human rights?
What brought you to NYU School of Law?
Its reputation as a global law school. I saw that reflected on campus in the variety of programming, including events, clinics, and journals that focused on international law. Throughout my time at NYU Law I attended many of those events, some of which were at The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. I was very eager when I got the opportunity later on in my law school career to take part in Professor Satterthwaite’s Global Justice Clinic. That was a formative experience during my time at NYU.
Tell me about your work with Professor Satterthwaite in Haiti.
In the Global Justice Clinic, I was a part of the team that traveled to Port-au-Prince to conduct key informant interviews with civil society representatives, government officials, and donors. The clinic also conducted a household survey in the internally displaced peoples’ camps to figure out what kinds of human rights violations were happening, focusing on service delivery within the camps. So, where was the water placed? Where were the latrines? And do those conditions affect gender-based violence within the camps? When we got back from Haiti, we released a short overview of the research which fed into the larger report published the following year. It was obviously very difficult to see people in such tragic and trying situations, but it was also really inspiring to see the people working very hard on their behalf. Hopefully through that report we were bringing a bit more spotlight to the issue of gender-based violence within the camps.
Are you still close to people you met through the CHRGJ?
I have kept in touch with Professor Satterthwaite and Professor Ryan Goodman, both CHRGJ faculty directors, throughout my career. In my professional capacity as the legal advisor for Africa at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, I’ve crossed paths with a few CHRGJ alums, especially Wade McMullen ’11, who is at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, and Elizabeth Ashamu ’11, who is working on South Sudan. Wade and I actually reconnected on the way to Banjul in The Gambia to attend the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. And Elizabeth and I see each other every time I am in Nairobi.
What do you find most rewarding about your job at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law?
Merryl Lawry-White LLM ’13 Merryl, a former Transitional Justice Scholar, now works as a Juriste Adjoint to a Judge at the International Court of Justice. This involves working with the Judge on all disputes that come before the Court, implicating a broad range of international law issues, including questions of the use of force, environmental law, human rights law, humanitarian law, the law on genocide, reparations, and other areas.
During her time at NYU Law, Merryl studied with CHRGJ Faculty Directors Ryan Goodman and Philip Alston, taking International Human Rights and International Law, respectively. Since graduating, Merryl has drawn on what she learned at NYU in her work, in several publications, and across many other projects. For example, she advised a human rights NGO in Nepal on the international aspects of two strategic litigation projects (related to transitional justice, the rights of migrant workers, and human trafficking). In the video below, she talks about presenting a paper on reparations as part of CHRGJ’s International Law and Human Rights Student Scholarship Conference in 2013.
Amanda Klasing ’08 Amanda, a former clinic student and current Researcher on Women’s Rights at Human Rights Watch, talks about her experience at CHRGJ.
Wade McMullen ’11 Wade, a former clinic student and current Staff Attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, talks about his experience at CHRGJ.
Elizabeth Ashamu Deng ’11 Elizabeth, a former clinic student and current Researcher at Human Rights Watch, talks about her experience at CHRGJ.
CHRGJ alumni have moved on to work for a wide array of prominent organizations in the human rights field, including:
- Amnesty International
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Australian Human Rights Commission
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Danish Institute for Human Rights
- Empire Justice Center
- Feminist Majority Foundation
- Human Rights Watch
- Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School
- The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
- International Center for Transitional Justice
- International Disability Alliance
- International Human Rights Clinic at Duke University School of Law
- Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
- Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
- Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of Brazil
- Security Council Report
- South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law
- South Sudan Law Society
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- World Bank
Information for CHRGJ Alumni
CHRGJ plans to continue to promote alumni accomplishments and foster bonds between its staff, students, and alumni. Please email email@example.com if you have news you would like CHRGJ to feature online or if you are going to be in New York and are available to meet with students or give a talk.
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