TJI PhD Researchers
PhD researcher profiles and research publications.
About Priyam Yarnell
Title of project
Early Release from Imprisonment for Perpetrators of International Crimes: A Case Study of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Priyam joined the Transitional Justice Institute in October 2015; she is examining an under-researched area of the international criminal justice system: its early release practice.
As of September 2016, 53 of the 83 persons convicted for international crimes (crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes) committed during the Balkans War have been granted unconditional early release, generally after serving two-thirds of their sentence.
Priyam’s thesis will explore the rationale and justification for granting early release and also how this affects the perceived legitimacy of the ICTY within post-conflict Bosnia Herzegovina.
Priyam holds a BA (Honours) in History and Politics from the University of Warwick, a law degree from the University of Law, London and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Queen's University Belfast.
She also has a practical background in human rights law, having worked in Sri Lanka, New York and Geneva with a range of national and international human rights and rule of law organisations, notably with the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva.
About Michelle Rouse
Michelle attained her LLM in Gender, Conflict and Human Rights from TJI in 2016. She has been actively involved in Northern Ireland politics since 1998, in a variety of roles including as a Special Advisor to the deputy First Minister (2006 – 2011). Michelle’s research examines gender and institutional reform in post-conflict transitional legislatures, with a particular emphasis on the role of elite bureaucracy in con-sociational governance.
Michelle is a member of PRIO’s Peace and Conflict Research School.
Working title of project: Gender, Decision-Making and the Northern Ireland Civil Service – Theorising Post Conflict Institutional Change.
About Cira Palli-Aspero
Cira Palli-Aspero is originally from Catalonia, where she graduated with an MA in historical research and a BA in History, both from the University of Barcelona. She first joined Ulster University as a volunteer at INCORE where further developed her knowledge and professional experience in the field of conflict resolution. In September 2016 she joint the Transitional Justice Institute as a PhD researcher.
Research title: 'The Uses of the Historical Method in Conflicted or Divided Societies: Understanding Historical Clarification Commissions'
The project explores the role of history and the historical method in conflicted and divided societies. The research fits into a broader debate around the growing field of historical dialogue, which seeks to provide a specific methodology to address the causes of conflict through a “conversation” that integrates different perspectives and interpretation of past events to produce a nuanced factual reconstruction that explains the events in their wider context.
The research design relies on two pillars. On the one hand, the compilation of a database that includes different worldwide examples in which the historical method have been used as a truth-seeking mechanism: to clarify certain events of the past; to straighten the historical record when necessary, or to uncover unknown facts at the light of new evidence. On the other, the in-depth analysis of the Historical Memory Group in Colombia as an illustrative case study.
The research project gives a solid examination of the organisational strategies, methods, and challenges that historical clarification commissions might experience in a real life context. It directly contributes to the understanding of the strengths and limitations of using the historical method of analysis in conflicted and divided contexts.
Linda Holmgren Eitrem
About Linda Holmgren Eitrem
Title of project
Building Gender-Just Peace - Peace-Building Transversal Dialogue, Gender and Citizenship in Deeply Divided Societies
Start Date: October 2016
Linda received her BSc in Politics and Economics in 2009 and her MSc in Political Science in 2014 from Lund University, Sweden. In addition to this, she has also studied Gender, International Relations and Archaeology.
Her doctoral project is positioned at the intersection of three research areas:
- ethnonational conflict as a gendered phenomenon;
- reconciliation and peace-building through transversal dialogue; and
- feminist perspectives on citizenship.
The project aims to provide a gender analysis of the constructions of femininities and masculinities in the field of dialogue-based peace-building and reconciliation in order to demonstrate how discourses of nation and gender intersect.
The gendered discourses of nationalism and ethnonational conflict will then be linked to women's participation in public life, as well as to possibilities for and obstructions to equal citizenship.
The dissertation project will consist of two case studies, one of which will be Northern Ireland.
About Seamus Campbell
Title of project
Post-Conflict Masculine Identities and Engagement with Militarized Masculinities
Start date: 2014
Seamus's research will examine post-conflict masculine identities and spaces for engagement with militarized masculinities. Seamus holds an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ulster and a BSc in Land Use and Environmental Management from Queen's University Belfast. During his MA he spent a semester at the Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at the University of Manitoba studying "Intercultural Conflict Transformation". During 2012 and 2013 Seamus volunteered with a Slovak NGO based in Bratislava which provides services to and advocates on behalf of the minority Roma community and more recently has spent time teaching English in Spain. Seamus enjoys travelling, volunteering and large cups of tea.
About Deirdre Nelson
Deirdre Nelson commenced her PhD studies with TJI in October 2013. Prior to that, Deirdre had completed her LLB (Hons) Law with Government at the University of Ulster, graduating in 2008. She then went on to successfully complete her LLM Human Rights Law at the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster, graduating in the summer of 2012. Deirdre's PhD research draws on her vast experience within the sporting field. Deirdre is a former Ladies European Kickboxing Champion and has represented Northern Ireland on several occasions. She also created history by being the first woman to box professionally in Northern Ireland in October 2000. However, it was her successful sex discrimination case against the Boxing Union of Ireland, in 2001, which led to Deirdre's doctoral research. Hence, her doctoral research will critically examine the role that law plays in addressing gender equality in sport.
About Christina Taylor
Title of project
Women of the Troubles: Gender, Violence and the Paramilitary in Northern Ireland.
Start date: October 2014
Christina Taylor completed a BA International at University College, Dublin, RoI. In her third year, Christina was awarded a scholarship for international studies at Lund University, Sweden. In 2013/2014, she completed postgraduate studies at the INCORE centre, Ulster University. Throughout her time at university, Christina actively engaged in the areas of conflict and gender studies. She was awarded the Universitas 21; International Summer School Scholarship, 2011 - reflecting on global engagement with the conflict in Northern Ireland. She has also collaborated on a volunteer basis, with the Irish-British Studies Institute, the Women's Irish History Association and the Forum for Cities in Transition. Christina's research, based at the Transitional Justice Institute, centres on an analysis of ex-combatant women in Northern Ireland.
Omar El Masri
About Omar El Masri
Omar El Masri commenced his PhD at TJI in September 2016, and is looking at the emergence of urban street art spaces which challenge existing pervasive and spatial arrangements of neoliberal and ethnonational ideologies in the post-conflict cities of Beirut and Belfast. Prior to pursuing his PhD, Omar completed his MPhil in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation at Trinity College Dublin's Irish School of Ecumenics program in Belfast in August 2016, where he spatialized existing urban street art in Belfast's Cathedral and Smithfield-Union quarters as both subversive to and a tactic of resistance to neoliberal spatializations in the city centre. As a native of Beirut, Omar has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the American University of Beirut and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Lebanese American University and recently moved to Belfast from Washington, DC in 2015.
About Hedley Abernethy
Title of Project
The True Cost Of Reparations: Trauma, Memory and Victim-Identity in Northern Ireland
Hedley Abernethy grew up In Belfast during the height of the Troubles, and his PhD study is a direct consequence of five years with WAVE Trauma Centre, an organisation supporting victims of the political violence in Northern Ireland. Prior to this, Hedley graduated with an MA in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, before going on to work with Catholic Relief Services at their headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. He has worked with church and para-church youth organisations in Northern Ireland, and his PhD studies sees him return to Ulster University from which he graduated with a degree in community youth work in 2000.
About Isabelle Flisi
Title of Project
'What is ahead for Colombia? A gender perspective on DDR and Security Reform: understanding the complexity of women's experiences and needs'.
Start date: October 2015
Isabella holds a Master Degree in International Cooperation and BA in Anthropology from the University of Bologna, Italy. Prior to pursuing her PhD Isabella worked in the international cooperation and human rights fields, mainly in Latin America. She worked with different international organizations, among others Peace Brigades International, Christian Aid and KIT, applying a gender sensitive approach to different human rights projects.
After more than 5 years working in Colombia concentrating on human rights, protection and conflict transformation, Isabella decided to make an important change in her professional life, to focus on research. Her PhD research draws on her field experience in gender and human rights work in Colombia. Isabella chose the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) as her research environment because of TJI's recognized research impact and its leading expertise in the broad theme of Gender, Conflict and Transition.
Isabella's PhD project, 'What is ahead for Colombia? A gender perspective on DDR and Security Reform: understanding the complexity of women's experiences and needs' aims to generate more understanding about when, how, and under what domestic circumstances Security and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) could advance the human rights of women by also addressing the root causes of injustice and violence, thereby generating sustainable positive outcomes for women. Using Colombia as a case study Isabella will be exploring how DDR can be implemented integrating a gender consciousness that encompasses the diversity of women's experiences during and after conflict.
About Elise Ketelaars
Title of Project
The European Union’s support for gender justice in societies in transition during the era of securitization: a feminist institutionalist perspective
Elise Ketelaars holds a bachelor's degree in law and a master's degree in Legal Research from Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. In the course of her undergraduate studies she minored in Islamic studies and took courses at Bilgi University in Istanbul, Turkey. Her master's research was mainly focused on gender and human rights. During her studies Elise worked for the European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality and the Dutch Association of Women and Law. She has also completed internships at the Dutch Refugee Council, and the Rule of Law department of the Dutch Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, during which she specialised on judicial reform within the context of EU accession negotiations. Her PhD research examines the interaction between feminist institutional advocacy for gender justice and securitisation discourse within an EU external relations context. It draws on feminist theory in the field of international law, international relations, and feminist institutionalism (FI), and employs a qualitative research methodology. It has an embedded case study design which uses EU relations with Tunisia and Ukraine as case studies.
About Leo Green
Title of project
Consociationalism – A False Dawn? An examination of the capacity of consociational power-sharing arrangements to effect a rights-based social transformative agenda.
Leo graduated from the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University with an LLM in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice in December 2016. He has many years’ experience of politics and political negotiations in Northern Ireland, working previously as both a Special Advisor and a party-political director at the NI Assembly in Stormont. Leo’s PhD project involves a comparative study of the outworking of power-sharing arrangements in both Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and will critically examine the capacity of these arrangements to effect social transformation.
Ana Martin Beringola
About Ana Martin Beringola
Intersectionality: operationalizing a gender analysis of sexual violence in international criminal law.
Ana researches ‘intersectionality’ as a method to improve the analysis of sexual and gender-based violence in international criminal law. She considers an intersectional framework based on feminism and international human rights law and applies it to case studies of international crimes of sexual and gender-based violence. The thesis demonstrates that intersectionality enables understanding of the causes, harms, and gravity of international crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, avoiding discrimination in access to justice and in consistency with a human rights interpretation.
Ana has a background as an international lawyer. She worked as a consultant for Amnesty International Spain between 2011 and 2014 dealing with the international crimes committed during the civil war and dictatorship. Ana was a legal officer for ECPAT International in 2014-2015, in Bangkok, where she worked against the commercial and sexual exploitation of children, especially online sexual exploitation. In 2016 and 2017 she joined the EU Genocide Network in The Hague, a network of Member States for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Ana holds a LLM in International Humanitarian Law (Geneva Academy) and a MSc in International Crimes and Criminology (Vrije University Amsterdam). She has a LLB in Spanish law (Complutense University) and a LLB in French law (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne).
McElhone - Jessica
McElhone - Jessica
About Selbi Durdiyeva
Selbi Durdiyeva is a second year PhD student at the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI). Her research focuses on the role of civil society in transitional justice processes in Russia, focusing on the legacies of the Soviet regime.
Selbi holds an LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law from University of Essex and an LLM in International Law from KIMEP University, Kazakhstan.
Previously, Selbi worked as an Adjuct Lecturer in Law at KIMEP University, coordinator of Legal Clinic at KIMEP University, and as a consultant and intern at Child Rights International Network (CRIN).
About Cristal Palacios
Cristal Palacios Yumar is a 3rd year PhD researcher at the Transitional Justice Institute.
Her research focuses on collective trauma and other psychosocial dimensions of the Venezuelan diaspora and its potential for agency in transitional justice processes in the country.
Cristal is a psychologist by training and was a Chevening Scholar at Ulster University's MSc program in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies last year.
Before joining TJI, she was also director of Psiquearte, a Caracas-based NGO providing creative arts based psychosocial support to communities affected by urban and political violence.
About Nisan Alici
Title of Project
Transitional Justice in an Ongoing Conflict: A victim-centred analysis of Transitional Justice mechanisms in the context of the Kurdish Conflict
Nisan joined the TJI in October 2018. Her project is on “Transitional Justice in an Ongoing Conflict: A victim-centred analysis of Transitional Justice mechanisms in the context of the Kurdish Conflict.” She holds a Master’s degree in International Conflict and Security from the University of Kent, UK and a BA in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Nisan is the co-founder of the Demos Research Association for Peace, Democracy and Alternative Politics and has been working in Demos as a researcher since 2015. Previously, she worked as an advisor in the Turkish Parliament. Her research interests include critical peace, gender, victimhood, and transitional justice.
About Howard Ayo
Howard’s project is on ‘National Action Plan On Business and Human Rights: Implications for Human Rights Obligations of the State and Business Enterprises. Comparative Study of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania’. He holds a Masters of Business Administration (2015) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Management (2011) from Uganda Management Institute, and Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (2007), Uganda.
He has over eight years of experience with the United Nations Human Rights in Uganda focusing broadly on technical assistance and capacity building for different interlocutors on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and specifically, National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Human Rights Indicators and Human Rights Based Approach to Data. His current research focuses on the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and Implications for Human Rights Obligations of the State and Business Enterprises. This research is informed by the United Nations Protect, Respect and Remedy framework (2011) and the increased business and human rights related impacts on the rights-holders. Further, it also addresses a call by the Human Rights Council for Member States to adopt National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights.
About Frances McCourt
Frances’ project is on ‘Transitional Justice in Ongoing Conflict: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice’. Frances graduated from Ulster University in 2015 earning a BSc hon in Health and Social Care Policy. During the last year of her undergraduate degree she worked in partnership with the National Autistic Society and the Science Shop at Ulster University to conduct research into service provision for adults with ASD in Northern Ireland. In 2016, Frances began postgraduate studies at the Transitional Justice Institute, where she undertook an LLM in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice.
Her PhD studies commenced in September 2018 and focus on the use of transitional justice in ongoing conflict. The project seeks to determine whether Transitional Justice theory is equipped to address ongoing conflict situations. In doing so, the study questions whether it is necessary for Transitional Justice to reformulate its engagement with such contexts, and if so, how Transitional Justice can be recast, both theoretically and practically, in order to achieve its goals in situations of ongoing conflict.
About Sasha Gillespie
After a career as a special education teacher for almost a decade, Sasha returned to study for her LLB and LLM. The combination of background and recent experiences at the Ulster Law Clinic while studying Access to Justice, her focus sharpened on Social Justice. She has a particular interest in the experiences of those who care for the disabled in employment, the welfare system and wider social participation in the context of equality law theory, and feminist perspectives.
Sasha’s project focuses on whether there is a discriminatory impact of the legal framework upon carers that is likely to cause social exclusion, poverty and significant barriers to entering or remaining in employment. Her research is interested in the experiences of carers and potential legal and policy approaches to encourage positive attitudes, inclusion and equality for this increasingly large section of society.
About Nada Ahmed
Title of project
Narratives of Perpetration in Transitional Justice Mechanisms: The Cases of Libya, Tunisia & Egypt
Nada Ahmed has worked as a lawyer and human rights research after she obtained a master degree in human rights law from Paris during which she worked with Human Rights Watch, in their Paris office and a bachelor degree in international law from both Paris 1 Sorbonne University and Cairo University.
She worked with Egyptian prominent human rights lawyer Negad El Borai on public opinion cases like the foreign funding case or the assembly law case in Egypt. She also worked with El Borai as a researcher as she wrote various papers about travel ban and enforced disappearances but most importantly she proposed, researched and drafted the Prisoners' handbook: a Q & A about the prison rules and regulations in Egypt. Nada also worked as a researcher interviewing torture victims, monitoring and documenting torture cases with Nation Without Torture campaign.
She joined Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in December 2018 as a non-resident fellow with a focus on Egypt security sector and transitional justice in Tunisia. To pursue her in interest for transitional justice, she joined the Transitional Justice Institute in Ulster University for her PhD focusing on Narratives of Perpetration in transitional justice mechanisms in three MENA region countries: Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
About Danielle Gallagher
Title of project
Engendering Justice? A feminist exploration of the relationship between trafficked persons and the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland.
Danielle Gallagher’s project, ‘Engendering Justice? A feminist exploration of the relationship between trafficked persons and the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland’ proposes the development of a more creative participatory methodology for researching with trafficked persons, and the relevant NGOs, to provide much needed knowledge regarding their experience of the criminal justice system. She aims to discover how gender affects access to justice in this context. Further intended outcomes include foregrounding the voices of trafficked persons in the relevant academic and policy discourse, and expanding the use of creative methodologies in sociolegal research to better serve marginalised groups.
Prior to beginning her PhD research in 2019, Danielle graduated from Ulster University’s LLB Law and Criminology programme with first class honours. She has undertaken research for the Department of Justice into defining Access to Justice, for Family Mediation NI into alternative dispute resolution, and with both Mercy Global Action (trafficking) and Mercy International Association (heritage). She has previously trained in both fine art (Belfast Met, 2012), and theatre (Lancaster University, UK, 2004-05), and has experience in community arts facilitation. In her ‘spare’ time she is the artistic director of a site-specific theatre company, Escapade, whose focus is foregrounding gender and political issues through the works of Shakespeare, and the co-director of Enniskillen Light Operatic Society.