Nicole LaViolette

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Nicole LaViolette
Full Professor

Bureau: 613-562-5794
Bureau: 613-562-5124
Courriel professionnel: Nicole.LaViolette@uOttawa.ca

Nicole LaViolette

Biography

Nicole LaViolette’s research and publications were devoted mainly to refugee law, international human rights, and family law. She focused a significant part of her scholarly research on sexual minorities and the refugee determination system. She published extensively on this issue and lectured at national and international conferences on refugee issues. Prof. LaViolette conducted professional development training related to sexual orientation and gender identity for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and provided expert advice and training on the same issues to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. 

She and Craig Forcese were co-authors of Every Cyclist’s Guide to Canadian Law. She also published with Julie Audet of L’essentiel du droit de la famille dans les provinces et territoires de common law au Canada, an introductory text on family law. She was co-editor with Craig Forcese of The Human Rights of Anti-terrorism(Irwin Law, 2008), a collection of papers discussing the Ottawa Principles on Anti-terrorism and Human Rights. She was also a co-editor with Mélanie Claude and Richard Poulin of Prostitution et traite des êtres humains, enjeux nationaux et internationaux (Les Éditions L'Interligne, Ottawa, 2008) to which she contributed a chapter on the Inter-American legal response to the trafficking of women and children. 

Prof. LaViolette taught courses on public international law, international humanitarian law, conflicts of laws, family law, transnational family law, and trusts. 


Publications

Books

Book Chapters

Articles

  • Barbara Atwood, Graciela Jasa Silveira, Nicole LaViolette & Tom Oldham, “Cruce de fronteras en el aula. Un experimento de derecho comparado en derecho de familia ” (2011) 130 Boletín Mexicano de Derecho Comparado 43-71.
  • Nicole LaViolette, “The UNHCR’s Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: A Critical Commentary ” (2010) International Journal of Refugee Law 173-208.
  • Nicole LaViolette, “Independent Human Rights Documentation and Sexual Minorities: An Ongoing Challenge for the Canadian Refugee Determination Process” (2009) 13:2/3  International Journal of Human Rights 437-476.
  • N. LaViolette, “The UNHCR’s Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (2009) 13:10 ASIL Insight, online: ASIL ‹http://www.asil.org/files/insight090730pdf.pdf›.
  • N. LaViolette, “Independent Human Rights Documentation and Sexual Minorities: An Ongoing Challenge for the Canadian Refugee Determination Process” (2009) 13:2/3 International Journal of Human Rights 437-476.
  • Nicole LaViolette, "Dad, Mom - and Mom: The Ontario Court of Appeal's Decision in A.A. v. B.B." (2007) Canadian Bar Review 665-689.
  • Barbara Atwood, Graciela Jasa Silveira, Nicole LaViolette & Tom Oldham, "Franchir les limites de la salle de classe: Une expérience de droit comparé en droit de la famille" (2007) 24 Canadian Journal of Family Law / Revue canadienne de droit familial 65 - 100. 
  • N. LaViolette, "Gender-Related Refugee Claims : Expanding the Scope of the Canadian Guidelines" (2007) 19:2 International Journal of Refugee Law 1-47.
  • N. LaViolette, « The Principle International Human Rights Instruments To Which Canada Has Not Yet Acceded » (2006) 24 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 267-325.
  • B. Atwood, G. Jasa Silveira, N. LaViolette & T. Oldham, « Crossing Borders in the Classroom: A Comparative Law Experiment in Family Law » (2006) 55 Journal of Legal Education 542-559. 
  • N. LaViolette, « La Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés et la définition internationale de la torture » (2004) 34 Revue générale de droit 587-610 (Prix Germain-Brière pour le meilleur article publié dans la Revue générale de droit dans la catégorie junior des volumes 34 et 35). 
  • N. LaViolette, « Coming Out in Canada: The Immigration of Same-Sex Couples Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act » (2004) 49:4 McGill Law Journal / Revue de droit de McGill 969-1003.
  • N. LaViolette, « La Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés et la définition internationale de la torture » (2004) 34 Revue générale de droit 587-610 (Prix Germain-Brière pour le meilleur article publié dans la Revue générale de droit dans la catégorie junior des volumes 34 et 35). 
  • N. LaViolette, « Les identités multiples et le droit des réfugiés: catégories juridiques fixes et rigides? » (2003) 35:3 Canadian Ethnic Studies / Études ethniques au Canada 39-55.
  • Nicole LaViolette, “L’importance de l’opinion publique : L’homoparentalité et la décision de la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme dans l’affaire Fretté c. France” (2002) 40 Canadian Yearbook of International Law / Annuaire canadien de droit international 345-371.
  • N. LaViolette, «Waiting in a New Line at City Hall: Registered Partnerships As An Option for Relationship Recognition in Canada » (2002) 19:1 Canadian Journal of Family Law / Revue canadienne de droit familial 115-172.  
  • N. LaViolette, « Les revendications du statut de réfugié fondées sur le sexe : constats et orientations nouvelles » (2001) 13:2 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law / Revue Femmes et Droit 285.  
  • N. LaViolette, « Commanding Rape: Sexual Violence, Command Responsibility, and the Prosecution of Superiors by the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda » (1998) 36 Canadian Yearbook of International Law / Annuaire canadien de droit international 93.   
  • N. LaViolette, « The Immutable Refugees: Sexual Orientation in Ward v. Canada » (1997) 55:1 University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review 1-41. [Cet article a fait l’objet d’une recension dans Timothy F. Murphy, dir., Lesbian and Gay Studies (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers: Chicago, 2000) à la p. 299-300.]   
  • Nicole LaViolette et Sandra Whitworth, “No Safe Haven: Sexuality as a Universal Human Right and Lesbian and Gay Activism in International Politics” (1994) Winter, Millenium:Journal of International Studies 563-588.

 

Awards

  • Prof. LaViolette (’96) Receives uOttawa Excellence in Education Prize
    Thursday, 11 November 2010, Professor Nicole LaViolette (’96) was awarded  a University of Ottawa 2010 Excellence in Education Prize at a ceremony on November 9, 2010 for her research project to improve a transnational law course at the Common Law Section by incorporating cutting-edge multimedia technologies.

    Since joining the Faculty in 1998, Prof. LaViolette has proven herself as a dynamic and innovative professor who continually demonstrates a remarkable commitment to her students.  Bruce Feldthusen, Dean of the Common Law Section, congratulated Prof. LaViolette on behalf of the Faculty, noting, “The Excellence in Education award recognizes educators of exceptional quality who demonstrate outstanding teaching skills while maintaining a solid research record.  Nicole proves—and continually strives to improve—herself on both of these fronts.”  

    Recipients of this prize receive $7,000 for innovative teaching development and up to $3,000 for supplementary duties associated with teaching development.

    The Prize will allow Prof. LaViolette to improve an experimental course in family law which is currently offered to students from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico via video-conferencing.  The course gives students the opportunity to deal with real family law issues, and exposes them to the differences and nuances of each country’s legal system.   

    Prof. LaViolette’s project aims to transform the current transnational teaching model, under which the course contents vary from year to year, to create a compulsory Common Law course dedicated to transnational family law.  In particular, the project would create factual scenarios that would present different problems to students in each region, based on their own national family laws.  The new course would also better integrate the range of multimedia resources currently available for teaching and create a comprehensive website and database of relevant articles and cases from different regions.  Prof. LaViolette also envisions a greater reliance on video-conferencing, taking full advantage of a wide network of Professors and experts to present on the course’s chosen topics.

    Prof. LaViolette is confident that plenty of students are interested in taking part in a practical course on comparative law.  “Generally, most students don’t have a firm grasp of the fundamental differences and curious similarities that exist between countries in the domain of family law,” she says.  “Most don’t tend to think of law beyond the borders of their own country.”  This new course aims to expose students to foreign systems of law in a highly practical and experimental format. 

    Congratulations to Prof. LaViolette!
  • Prof. Nicole LaViolette Receives Grant and Nomination
    Tuesday, 17 April 2007, Prof. Nicole LaViolette received a teaching/learning grant for her project entitled, “Module de droit de la famille inter-juridictionnel.” 

    This grant, in the amount of $5100, will go toward funding a transnational experimental course in family law which will be offered to law students from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

    Prof. LaViolette has also been nominated for a 2007 Capital Educators’ Award which recognizes and celebrates the dedication and achievement of local educators.  These awards are given to educators across the entire spectrum—from kindergarten to PhD.  This year, uOttawa received an outstanding 226 nominations for the awards, and from this impressive number, eight uOttawa professors are among the 65 finalists.  They will participate in the EduGala event on May 24, where the 20 winners will be announced. 

    The Common Law Section wishes Prof. LaViolette the best of luck!
  • Nicole Laviolette Receives the Germain-Brière Prize
    Wednesday, 06 September 2006, Common Law Professor Nicole Laviolette earned the Germain-Brière Prize for the best article published in the Revue générale de droit, volumes 34 and 35 in the junior category. She received an amount of $1,500 for her article entitled “La Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés et la définition internationale de la torture.”

 

Common Law Section News

  • Professors Nicole LaViolette and François Larocque Receive AJEFO Honour
    Monday, 20 October 2014, Professor Nicole LaViolette and Professor François Larocque both received the Order of Merit from the Association of French Speaking Jurists of Ontario (AJEFO) on October 4, 2014 at the organization’s 35th annual conference, held in Sudbury.

    The Order of Merit is given to those who have demonstrated exceptional service to the legal profession, particularly by ensuring and facilitating access to legal services in French.

    Founded in 1980, AJEFO speaks for lawyers, judges, academics, law students as well as others who work at promoting access to legal services in French and in English, the two official languages of the Ontario courts.  AJEFO is also closely associated with the University of Ottawa’s French Common Law Program.  It supports the French Common Law Program’s pedagogical activities while seeking faculty and student collaboration for its professional and community initiatives.  The current Acting Managing Director, Andrée-Anne Martel is also a Part-time Professor for the Common Law Program. Several of her predecessors and a large number of AJEFO’s members are also graduates.

    Prof. Nicole LaViolette has expertise in refugees’ law, international human rights and family law. Her interests include sexual minorities and the system for determining refugee status. She has published numerous articles and spoken at various national and international conferences regarding these issues. With co-author Julie Audet, she has published a reference book in French on the basics of family law in Canada entitled L'essentiel du droit de la famille dans les provinces et territoires de common law au Canada

    Prof. François Larocque has practiced law since 2014 at Power Law and has been an Associate Professor at the Common Law Section since 2005, where he was Vice-Dean of the French Program from 2010 to 2012, a role in which he acted as a first-class partner for AJEFO. His practice and his academic research focuses on language rights, civil liability, private and public international law and human rights. As part of his practice, he has had the opportunity to defend multiple language cases including R v Caron, 2014 ABCA 71.

    The two professors have contributed significantly to the advancement and modernization of the French Common Law Program, as well as excellence in education and access to justice in French at the provincial, national and international levels. AJEFO congratulates Prof.. LaViolette and Prof. Larocque for their commitment and encourages them to continue their efforts to support the cause of justice in French in Ontario.
  • Prof. LaViolette Delivers Opening Remarks at Refugee Asylum Claims Roundtable in Brussels
    Wednesday, 30 July 2014, Professor Nicole LaViolette delivered the opening remarks at the Expert Roundtable: Asylum Claims Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression held by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Brussels on 27 June 2014.

    Composed of eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, the ICJ promotes and protects human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. The roundtable was dedicated to exploring the normative and legal  challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees. 

    As part of her address, Professor LaViolette presented a research tool entitled Refugee Claims Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: An Annotated Bibliography that was compiled with co-contributor Mary Kapron, a J.D. student at the Law faculty.  The bibliography gives an account of legal and social sciences research sources related to refugee claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The bibliography, which focuses primarily on English language publications, includes close to 200 scholarly publications and reports from international, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations.
  • Announcing the Nicole LaViolette Friends of Lambda Prize
    Friday, 29 November 2013, The Lambda Foundation is proud to announce that it has renamed its award at the University of Ottawa the Nicole LaViolette Friends of Lambda Prize. The Foundation has chosen to honour Professor LaViolette in this way because she exemplifies leadership and achievement both in terms of her scholarly work on LGBT legal issues and her personal commitment to human rights.

    Portrait, Nicole LaVioletteThe new name for the award also acknowledges, with deep appreciation, the generous Friends of Lambda who established this Lambda prize in 1995 and have financially maintained it over the years.  

    Professor LaViolette was one of the earliest recipients of the Lambda Prize at uOttawa (1999), one of ten of our awards across Canada. “Lambda Awards are unique in their recognition of LGBT scholarship. The support I received for my work on sexual minority refugees was tremendously important,” she says.  Professor LaViolette has since been recognized nationally and internationally as a leading scholar and expert in refugee and immigration issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.  She has also remained active in the community, spearheading an Ottawa group committed to resettling in Canada LGBT refugees who are in facing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

    The Nicole LaViolette Friends of Lambda Prize awards excellence in research on issues affecting gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people, specifically laws, and public and private policies affecting their human rights, as well as those matters pertaining more generally to their communities, values, achievements, arts and sports. All applicants, whether graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or early career professors, must also demonstrate that they have contributed to the LGBTI community.

    Contact: Dr. Barbara Freeman, President
    Lambda Foundation
    info@lambdafoundation.com 
    www.lambdafoundation.com
  • Prof. Currie Accepts Award for The Canadian Yearbook of International Law
    Tuesday, 28 May 2013, The Canadian Yearbook of International Law/L’Annuaire canadien de droit international, published by the University of British Columbia Press, has been awarded the 2013 Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing.  Professor John Currie, Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook, accepted the award on behalf of UBC Press during an awards ceremony held on May 6, 2013 at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Montreal.

    The Hugh Lawford Award is given by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries to honour a publisher that has produced an excellent publication in the preceding two years, having regard to such criteria as excellence and innovation, quality of editing, and significance of contribution to a body of legal literature.

    The Yearbook recently published its 49th volume, the second under Professor Currie’s leadership as Editor-in-Chief and with Professor Nicole LaViolette’s editorial assistance as Assistant to the Editors. Among the contributors to the contents of volume 49 were Professors Yacouba Cissé, Marel Katsivela, Céline Lévesque, and Penelope Simons, as well as alumna Alexandra Logvin (’09), Nathan Reyes (LL.M. 2011), and current Ph.D. student Otabek Ismailov. Professor Donald McRae formerly served as Editor-in-Chief of theYearbook from 1993-2010. Other members of the Board of Editors include Professors Donat Pharand and France Morrissette.

    First published in 1963, The Canadian Yearbook of International Law/L’Annuaire canadien de droit international is Canada’s leading international law serial publication.  Issued annually under the auspices of the Canadian Branch of the International Law Association (Canadian Society of International Law) and the Canadian Council on International Law, the Yearbook publishes in both French and English. It contains articles of lasting significance in the field of international legal studies; a notes and comments section; a digest of international economic law; a section on current Canadian governmental practice in international law (including recent parliamentary declarations and Canadian treaty actions); a digest of important Canadian cases in the fields of public and private international law; and a book reviews section.
  • Professor Nicole LaViolette ('96) Appears Before Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights
    Wednesday, 23 February 2011, On February 17, 2011, Professor Nicole LaViolette ('96) appeared before the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to address the treatment of sexual minorities in Uganda.

    In her testimony , Prof. LaViolette suggested that many individuals in Uganda have a well-founded fear of persecution based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity.  “I would like to suggest that the situation of sexual minorities in Uganda is likely to improve if pressure is brought to bear on the government of Uganda,” she said.
     
  • Prof. LaViolette Participates at UNHCR Consultative Meeting
    Wednesday, 06 October 2010, Professor Nicole LaViolette participated in a consultative meeting held by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) from September 30 – October 1, 2010 on the protection of refugees fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

    Prof. LaViolette spoke on the current trends and challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals (LGBTI) in refugee determination procedures. The meeting, held in Geneva, marked the first time the protection concerns of LGBTI refugees were be formally discussed under UN auspices with experts from governments, civil society and academia. UNHCR guidelines and policies will be revised to ensure that the particular vulnerability of these groups is recognized at every stage of the agency’s interaction with refugees. 

    Prof. LaViolette has published several articles on sexual minorities and the refugee determination system, and conducted professional development training on this issue for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. She is a recipient of the Lambda Foundation Award for Excellence in Gay and Lesbian Studies for her work on the Canadian Gender Guidelines and their impact on sexual orientation and gender identity refugee claims.

Research News

  • Prof. LaViolette (’96) Publishes New Book on Family Law with Julie Audet (’96)
    Wednesday, 30 July 2014, Professor Nicole LaViolette (’96) and National Program graduate Julie Audet (’96) have published a new book on the fundamentals of family law in Canada entitled L'essentiel du droit de la famille dans les provinces et territoires de common law au Canada (Éditions Yvon Blais). The book presents a comprehensive picture of all of the rights and obligations related to family ties in Canadian common law jurisdictions.  The authors explore major themes in family law, including constitutional framework, marriage and divorce, division of family property, domestic contracts and child custody.  The book also presents specific cases in Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, where Francophones living in the minority have rights to legal services in French.

    Click here to learn more about L'essentiel du droit de la famille dans les provinces et territoires de common law au Canada.
  • Prof. LaViolette Publishes Chapter in New Book, Fleeing Homophobia
    Monday, 17 June 2013Professor Nicole LaViolette has published a chapter in a new book entitled Fleeing Homophobia: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Asylum (Routledge), edited by Thomas Spijkerboer.

    Prof. LaViolette’s chapter is entitled “Overcoming Problems with Sexual Minority Refugee Claims: Is LGBT Cultural Competency Training the Solution?”  The paper addresses the repeated calls by advocates, refugee lawyers and refugees involved in refugee determination proceedings to have adjudication authorities mandate continuing professional training for personnel involved in LGBT refugee cases.  Prof. LaViolette argues that ‘LGBT Cultural Competency Training,’ an approach developed in the health and social work fields, is an appropriate model for the refugee context.

    Click here to read more about Fleeing Homophobia.
  • Professor Nicole LaViolette (’96) Receives Grant for New Publication on Family Law
    Friday, 11 March 2011, Professor Nicole LaViolette (’96) has been awarded a grant of $10,000 from theFunds to Support the Publication of Common Law Works in French for her upcoming publication,L’essentiel du droit de la famille dans les provinces de common law au Canada.

    The publication is being co-authored with National Program graduate Julie Audet (LL.L. ’95; LL.B. ’96), a local family law lawyer who has taught courses in the Common Law Section.  The grant will be used to support the hiring of research assistants, as well as revision of the text and translation of certain major decisions by the Centre for Translation and Legal Documentation.

    Former recipients of this award include Professors Gabrielle St-Hilaire (’91),Joseph Roach (’62) and Denis Boivin (’91).

    Congratulations to Prof. LaViolette!


Faculty in the News

  • “Canada’s queer community needs to help persecuted sexual minorities”: An Op-Ed by Prof. LaViolette
    Monday, 26 July 2010, Professor Nicole LaViolette (’96) authored an op-ed for the July 22, 2010 edition ofThe Globe and Mail entitled “Canada’s queer community needs to help persecuted sexual minorities.”

    Prof. LaViolette notes that on a recent tour of the country, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney urged the lesbian and gay community to “step up to the plate” and help to resettle refugees facing persecution based on sexual orientation.  “Mr. Kenney is right to suggest that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Canadians have yet to demonstrate tangible solidarity with persecuted sexual minorities abroad,” writes Prof. LaViolette.  

    “Although resettlement programs require time, effort and financial contributions, LGBT Canadians have attained one of the most privileged legal, social and political stations in the world,” she continues.  “The failure to embrace refugee resettlement as a way of providing modest, but tangible, support to persecuted sexual minorities is both unfathomable and inexcusable.”
  • Vice-Dean LaViolette Comments on Fast-tracking Haitian Immigrants and Refugees
    Monday, 18 January 2010, Vice-Dean of the French Common Law Program, Professor Nicole LaViolette, leant her expertise to Canadian Press journalist Heather Scoffield in an article entitled “Canada looking at fast-tracking Haitian immigrants, refugees in wake of quake” on January 14, 2010. 

    The article focuses on the ways in which the federal government could make it easier for Haitians to enter Canada as immigrants or refugees after the January 12 quake.

    Prof. LaViolette stated, "Our immigration system makes it extremely difficult for people to come from poor countries," she said. "You're up against a whole bureaucracy set up to prevent them from coming."  She goes on to explain that officials should relax their requirements of proof of family ties and good health, particularly if the applicants have ties to Canadians who can take care of them.
     
  • Prof. LaViolette Comments on Omar Khadr Case
    Monday, 26 January 2009, Professor Nicole LaViolette provided both radio and television commentary (Radio-Canada) on the Omar Khadr case on January 22, 2009 following President Obama’s announcement that the military base at Guantanamo Bay will close within a year.

    The 22 year-old Khadr has been imprisoned since he was 15 and faced charges of murdering an American soldier until the legal proceedings against the prisoners were suspended this week.  The files of each of the 254 prisoners will be reviewed by American authorities.

    Prof. LaViolette explained on “Ontario Today” that this examination will determine if the prisoners will be released, repatriated or transferred before an American court to face justice. 

    More importantly, Prof. LaVioletted stated, “We are waiting until the president decrees that all proof obtained by means of torture will be excluded from all possible procedure.”  With this possibility, the charges against Omar Khadr could be dropped since he has long affirmed, through his lawyer, that he was tortured.

    “Canada has a policy of denial [with respect to Khadr],” explained Prof. LaViolette.  “It is not a question of defending Mr. Khadr,” she contined, “but one of defending the principles on which our democracy is founded.”

    The examination of Khadr’s file could involve abandoning the charges in favour of repatriation to Canada, but in order for that to occur, Canada’s position on this case must change.

    Click here to listen to Prof. LaViolette on “Ontario Today” with Benoit Cantin.

    Click here to see the Téléjournal report on Omar Khadr.


Students News

  • Common Law Student Awarded Library Prize for Undergraduate Research
    Thursday, 03 April 2014, Second-year Common Law student, Mary Kapron, was recently awarded the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, which includes a $500 prize.

    The prize is awarded as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and is designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate research projects that make creative and appropriate use of the Library's collections.

    The UROP provides uOttawa undergraduate students with opportunities to participate in scholarly research projects undertaken by faculty members. By participating in UROP, students receive a $1,000 award and devote, during one academic term, at least 50 hours to the research project conducted by the faculty member. Mary worked under the supervision of Professor Nicole LaViolette, who was awarded an additional $500 from UROP in research funds to support her involvement in the program.

    Congratulations to Mary and Professor LaViolette!

  • Second-Year Student Mary Kapron Receives UROP Award
    Thursday, 16 January 2014, Mary Kapron, a second-year Common Law Student, has been granted an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Award for the winter session 2014. The UROP provides uOttawa undergraduate students with opportunities to participate in scholarly research projects undertaken by faculty members.

    Mary will be working with Professor Nicole LaViolette, an internationally recognized expert in refugee law.  Prof. LaViolette is currently involved in a project with the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to design and deliver regional training modules to refugee personnel on asylum issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.  The training module aims to assist adjudicators to better determine the eligibility of LGBTI refugee claimants for international protection.  Mary will be tasked with conducting a comprehensive literature review with the aim of producing an annotated bibliography. 

    By participating in UROP, students receive a $1,000 award and devote, during one academic term, at least 50 hours to the research project conducted by the faculty member.  Prof. LaViolette will also be awarded $500 in research funds to support her involvement in the program.

    Congratulations to Mary and Prof. LaViolette!
  • Student Nicholas Hersh Receives 2013 Arthur C. Helton Fellowship
    Wednesday, 20 March 2013, Third-year Programme de droit canadien student Nicholas Hersh has been selected for the 2013 Arthur C. Helton Fellowship Program by the American Society of International Law (ASIL).

    The Helton Fellowship Program was established in 2004 to honour the legacy of Arthur Helton, a member of ASIL who died in the August 19, 2004 bombing of a UN mission in Baghdad along 21 other victims, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello.  The Helton fellowships provide financial assistance in the form of “micro-grants” for law students and young professionals conducting research in international law or human rights, or performing humanitarian work or related activities.

    Nicholas was selected from among 50 other candidates in the world for a project in the area of refugee law.  This summer, he will undertake a six-month internship in the Moroccan office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  He will have the opportunity to participate in the assessment of applications for refugee status and more generally to assist in the support the High Commission in Morocco provides to refugees.  Additionally, the internship will help Nicholas develop a research paper that he hopes to publish in a legal journal. Written under the direction of Professor Nicole LaViolette, Nicholas’ paper examines how decision makers evaluate the sexual and familial relationships of refugee claimants who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.  The UNHCR office is an excellent place to do research on this topic, as it has been at the forefront of innovations in the field of gay and lesbian refugee issues, having hosted the first ever comprehensive UNHCR training sessions on sexual orientation and gender identity in July of 2012.

    Congratulations!
  • OUTLaw Integral in Supporting Sponsorship of Refugee Couple
    Tuesday, 21 August 2012For two years, law students from OUTLaw (uOttawa’s  LGBT law students association) dedicated their time to Capital Rainbow Refuge to successfully bring to Canada a lesbian couple who were facing persecution in their country of origin.

    OUTLaw was revived by Adrienne Smith (’12) with the goal of encouraging law students to get involved in the LGBT community outside of the law school.  “While I was at law school, Prof. Nicole LaViolette wrote an opinion piece for The Globe and Mail which was an impassioned call for LGBT community members to get involved in sponsoring LGBT refugees from abroad,” says Adrienne. “After speaking to Prof. LaViolette, I encouraged a number of law students to get involved in the refugee sponsorship project and the partnership between the two groups was born.”

    Capital Rainbow Refuge is a group founded by more than a dozen members of the lesbian and gay communities of Ottawa. It is a diverse group of professionals, lawyers, law students and community members who have a strong commitment to Canada’s long tradition of welcoming refugees. 

    The hard work paid off earlier this summer.  A lesbian couple from South Asia who fled gender and sexual orientation persecution in their homeland arrived safely in Canada. They are being sponsored under Canada’s Private Resettlement Programs which allow Canadians to support the resettlement of refugees. 

    “The students helped with everything – research, advocacy, and resettlement support. This is a great legacy project for OUTLaw students,” said Prof. LaViolette, “Adrienne, in particular, was indispensable in gathering student support.”

    Keith MacMillan, a first-year student, first began working with refugee claimants six year ago. His experience is what led him to law school and specifically uOttawa. “Being involved with Capital Rainbow Refuge throughout the past year was a great opportunity for me to learn from a group of talented and dedicated activists,” recounts Keith. “It is really special to see the two refugees making a new life for themselves here in Canada where they don’t need to hide who they are in order to be safe.”

    The couple is currently being supported for a full year by Capital Rainbow Refuge. In addition to OUTlaw’s support, many uOttawa professors and students made substantial financial donations to the project.   

    The students involved have remarked that being part of the sponsorship project was by far the most rewarding experience they have had during their legal studies.
  • Doctoral Student Kokouvi Akakpo Publishes Op-Ed on the Guilty Plea of Omar Khadr
    Friday, 05 November 2010, Doctoral student Kokouvi Akakpo authored an op-ed for the October 30, 2010 edition of Le Droit, addressing the legal precedent set by Omar Khadr’s guilty plea.  The article was written in collaboration with Professor Nicole LaViolette.

    On October 25, Omar Khadr pled guilty before an American military tribunal to 5 charges related to the death of an American soldier in Afghanistan, including murder, terrorism and spying on the United States.

    International criminal law demands that a confession of guilt not be influenced by threats or made as a result of incentives or promises.  And yet, as Mr. Akakpo points out, Omar Khadr denied the accusations against him and claimed his confession came only as a result of torture.  “When a defendant pleads guilty,” he writes, “he loses the right to be judged, to be presumed innocent until guilt can be established through verification of the validity of the accusation and through cross-examination of his accusers.”

    Mr. Akakpo uses the example of another child soldier, a 14 year-old from East Timor who was convicted of murder in 2002 under similar circumstances, to suggest that guilty pleas by minors do not offer valid legal precedents.

    Click here to read the entire op-ed (in French).

  • Doctoral Student Kokouvi Akakpo Awarded Helton Fellowship from ASIL
    Tuesday, 23 March 2010, Third-year Doctoral student, Kokouvi Akakpo, has been selected for a fellowship award for the 2010 American Society of International Law (ASIL) Arthur C. Helton Fellowship Program.

    The Helton Fellowship Program was established in 2004 and recognizes the legacy of Arthur Helton, an ASIL member who died in the August 19, 2003 bombing of the UN mission in Baghdad along with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Viera de Mello, and 20 others.

    The Helton Fellowships provide financial assistance in the form of “micro-grants” for law students and young professionals to pursue field work and/or research in areas involving international law, human rights, humanitarian affairs and other related areas.  

    Kokouvi was selected from more than fifty applicants worldwide for his upcoming international humanitarian legal work.  He will travel to The Hague in April to undertake a three-month placement at the Special Court for Sierra Leone as it tries former Liberian president Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity. 

    Kokouvi, who was supervised this year by Professor Nicole LaViolette, also holds a Master of Human Rights and Democracy from the universities of Brussels and Abomey Calavi in Benin.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in law in 2000 from the University of Lomé in Togo. 

    Congratulations!

  • Doctoral Student Kokouvi Akakpo Undertakes Placement at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
    Friday, 05 March 2010, Doctoral Student Kokouvi Akakpo will travel to The Hague in April to undertake a three-month placement at the Special Court for Sierra Leone as it tries former Liberian president Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity.

    Mr. Taylor has been accused of being a central figure in the civil wars that ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone between 1989 and 2003, accounting for close to 400,000 deaths.  He headed the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, a rebel army bolstered by illegal trafficking of arms and diamonds.

    Among other crimes, the former president is accused of having ordered the extensive use of child soldiers.  This issue is at the heart of Mr. Akakpo’s doctoral thesis, which examines appropriate judicial responses relating and the determination of responsibility for children forced to commit international crimes.

    “How should we treat these children who have committed war crimes?” asks Mr. Akakpo.  “There are two main doctrinal theories: some say they need to be rehabilitated; others say they should be tried before a court.  We are in the process of finding an adequate procedure to allow these children to reintegrate into the community.”

    Mr. Akakpo has undertaken his third year of doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Nicole LaViolette.  He views his placement at the Special Court for Sierra Leone as a golden opportunity:  “I think this is a great start to a career as an international lawyer.”  Mr. Akakpo earned a master’s degree in international humanitarian law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, University of Geneva.  He also holds a Master of Human Rights and Democracy from the universities of Brussels and Abomey Calavi in Benin.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in law in 2000 from the University of Lomé in Togo.

    During his doctoral studies, Mr. Akakpo has been teaching legal drafting techniques in the Civil Law Section.  Happy to soon be departing for The Hague, Mr. Akakpo hopes in the meantime to earn a scholarship to help pay for his placement at the Special Court.

    Congratulations to Mr. Akakpo!


 

Alumni News

  • Nicholas Hersh (’13) Wins Writing Award at Refugee Conference
    Friday, 06 June 2014, Programme de droit canadien (PDC) graduate Nicholas Hersh ('13) has received the Best Graduate Paper Award at the 7th Annual Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) Conference.

    Mr. Hersh presented a paper entitled “Credibility Assessments of Sexual and Intimate Relationships by Sexual Minority Refugee Claimants in Canada.”  Written under the direction of Professor Nicole LaViolette while Nicholas was a third year student in the Programme de droit canadien, the paper examines how decision makers evaluate the sexual and familial relationships of refugee claimants who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Nicholas further researched and revised the paper while serving as an intern in the Moroccan office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The international internship was financed in part by a micro grant Nicholas received as a 2013 recipient of the Arthur C. Helton Fellowships of the American Society of International Law.

    Established in June 2008, the mandate of CARFMS is to foster an independent community of scholars dedicated to advancing and disseminating Canadian refugee and forced migration research; establishing active partnerships and collaborations among researchers, teachers, practitioners, policy makers and advocates; and supporting publications, conferences, and other fora that contribute to open and inclusive communication and networking around issues relating to refugee and forced migration studies in Canada and elsewhere.

 

 

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