Transitional Justice Leadership Program

The Transitional Justice Leadership Program, developed in consultation with prominent figures in the transitional justice field, provides an opportunity for LLM and JD students to engage with CHRGJ’s Transitional Justice Project through coursework, scholarship, and internships. CHRGJ’s Transitional Justice Project is led by NYU School of Law Senior Fellow Pablo de Greiff, who concurrently serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. The Project brings together teaching, documentation, research, and convenings on topics such as criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, institutional reform, and reparations programs in countries undergoing a transition to democracy in the aftermath of conflict or of authoritarianism.

Each year a small group of incoming LLM and JD students is selected to take part in the program. Transitional Justice Scholars are guaranteed enrollment in Transitional Justice, the course that comprises the classroom component of the program. Scholars are required to enroll in this course, to be taught in Fall 2017 by Professor Philip Alston, CHRGJ Faculty Co-Director and Co-Chair, and Adjunct Professor Michael Reed-Hurtado. The seminar offers insight into the legal, moral, and political questions governments and civil society must confront as they seek to come to terms with a legacy of human rights violations. Reed-Hurtado has previously taught at Yale University and is currently an advisor on the peace process and human rights to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bogotá, Colombia. UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff will also bring to bear his extensive experience in the field in several sessions during the semester.

In the Spring semester, Scholars will be expected to attend a series of public seminars organized specifically for the program, featuring several leading voices in the field, including Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the recently appointed UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights and a long-time transitional justice expert. The speakers’ schedules permitting, the Center will arrange opportunities for Scholars to meet with the experts in smaller settings to discuss ideas, writings, and career advice.

Because CHRGJ views scholarship as vital to preparing students for careers in transitional justice, Transitional Justice Scholars are expected to develop original works of legal scholarship to submit to the annual International Law and Human Rights Emerging Scholarship Conference, a forum that provides students with the unique opportunity to receive detailed feedback from experts and peers in order to prepare work of publishable quality. CHRGJ faculty and staff will be available to offer guidance with these projects.

Transitional Justice Scholars will also receive guidance in obtaining academic-year internships and research opportunities with human rights organizations, such as the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice itself, as part of its companion Human Rights Student Scholars program that includes at least one paid Research Assistant position to work directly with Pablo de Greiff on his UN mandate work. As Scholars look to their time after law school, CHRGJ can also offer advice on seeking internships in a variety of transitional justice institutions, such as truth commissions, courts, reparations programs, and local human rights organizations in countries throughout the world. Funding from NYU to pursue these opportunities is available through competitive application to the International Law and Human Rights Student Fellowship Program.

2017-2018 Transitional Justice Scholars

Tutku Bektas holds a BA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford,  where she was the only recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Scholarship for academic excellence. During her studies, she served as the undergraduate President of Exeter College and the Vice President of the largest charity in Oxford, which was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in her tenure.

Prior to pursuing an LLM in International Legal Studies, Tutku undertook her Bar training in London as an Astbury Scholar of Middle Temple. She completed legal placements at the Bar, where she drafted a communication to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); an experience which affirmed her desire to work for international organizations to promote human rights in countries affected by political chaos and terrorism.

Her academic interests center on topics that entail legal, moral and political dimensions of the application of human rights. Having previously served as a conference rapporteur for the Franco-British Council and spoke at `Magna Carta Rights’ conference in the University of Francois-Rabelais, she appreciates legal scholarship as a powerful medium for addressing human rights violations and looks forward to contributing to scholarship in the field of transitional justice.


Michaela Bolton studied law and philosophy before obtaining her LLB degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. During her university years, she participated in various community service initiatives in dis-empowered South African communities. This exposure contributed to her keen interest in transitional justice, and in the law’s ability to deliver a society from a past of systemic human rights abuses, to a reality of unity and dignity. Her undergraduate dissertation debated the limitations of truth commissions in post-conflict societies, and the law’s relationship with forgiveness. Michaela is an admitted attorney in South Africa, and has worked in the litigation departments of a major commercial law firm in Johannesburg. She is currently enrolled in New York University School of Law’s LLM program, and hopes to return to practice as an attorney in South Africa’s public interest law sector.


Paola Molano holds an LLB from Universidad Nacional de Colombia where she graduated in the top 10 percent of her cohort. Paola has worked on issues regarding women’s rights, LGBTI rights, and transitional justice, both at civil society organizations and for the Colombian government. She has participated in researches on women’s participation in state agencies, sexual and reproductive rights, and standards of protection of LGBTI population. Paola has also participated as amicus curiae before the Colombian Constitutional Court and other international courts, on issues regarding reproductive health issues, indigenous and Afro-Colombian people rights, protection of victims of sexual violence during the armed conflict, among other constitutional topics.

In the recent years Paola worked for the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (Presidency of the Republic) as a government adviser regarding the peace talks and the final peace agreement with FARC guerrilla. She worked first on gender mainstreaming, as part of the Government delegation at the Gender Subcommittee at the peace talks table, and after as advisor on transitional justice and constitutional law, mainly on the implementation of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and No Repetition. Paola has also worked as an adjunct professor at Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá.


Kaitlin Owens received her JD from the University of Toronto, where she was awarded the Angus MacMurchy Gold Medal as well as the Gallant Ho Prize for ranking first overall in her graduating class.

During her studies, she worked extensively with the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto. Following law school, Kaitlin clerked for three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2016, and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. After completing her clerkship, Kaitlin worked as an Assistant Crown Attorney, prosecuting criminal cases at the Ontario Court of Justice.

As a Hauser Global Scholar, Kaitlin will complete an LLM in International Legal Studies at NYU School of Law, specializing in international human rights law, transitional justice and international criminal law. She is also the recipient of the 2017 John P. Humphrey Fellowship in International Human Rights Law.


Duru Yavan received her undergraduate degree from Galatasaray University in Istanbul in 2014. She continued her studies with an International Human Rights Law LLM program at Istanbul Bilgi University. In addition to her studies in Istanbul, she studied as an exchange student in Montpellier Université I for one semester. After completing law school she was admitted to the Istanbul Bar Association in 2015 as an Attorney-at-Law in Turkey. Thereafter she worked as a project assistant at the Legal Studies Program of Truth Justice and Memory Center (Hakikat Adalet ve Hafıza Merkezi), an independent human rights organization focusing, inter alia, on transitional justice in Turkey. There, she collected and analyzed judicial data about human rights violations, most notably enforced disappearances committed by state officials against the Kurds in the 1990s. She also worked within the same organization at Perpetrators Not-Unknown Project (Faili Belli) as a trial observer. She also worked for seven months at Kadir Has University, Law Faculty, Turkey as a teaching and research assistant at the Public International Law Department. Her aspiration is to focus on transitional justice with an interdisciplinary approach and to contribute to peace processes, starting with her home country.

Past Transitional Justice Scholars