Our New Visiting Fellow: Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin is a leading expert in the fields of emergency powers, counter-terrorism and human rights, conflict regulation, transitional justice and sex-based violence in times of war. She is Regents Professor and Robina Professor of Law, Public Policy and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law at the Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Professor Ní Aoláin is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism.

She just started as Visiting Fellow at the Geneva Academy and will stay with us until June 2022.

What Motivated you to Carry out a Fellowship at the Geneva Academy?

I have a long association with the Geneva Academy, having worked closely with its MAS in Transitional Justice, taught a summer school programme, and participated in many conferences and events for many years. Having a sabbatical from my University in Spring 2022, created the perfect opportunity to spend more time in Geneva, combining my role as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights with the pursuit of some academic projects. Being a Fellow at the Geneva Academy also gives me the opportunity to connect with colleagues having similar academic interests as well as a number of my Special Rapporteur colleagues who also hold Visiting Fellowships.

What Will be the Focus of your Research during this Fellowship?

I am completing a monograph on the law of occupation focused on the gender dimensions of occupation. I hope to complete this book over the Spring and I can think of no better place to do it than at the Geneva Academy.

Why are these Issues Important?

Occupation remains a thorny and challenging legal and political practice. My book particularly addresses transformative occupations and the ways in which an exceptional practice (occupation) becomes normalized over time. As a feminist international law scholar, I am particularly aware of the lack of attention paid to women’s experience of occupation in international law scholarship. This book plans to remedy that deficit.

What Will be the Impact of this Research?

I hope the impact will be to reshape our understanding of the law of occupation from a gender perspective.

What Do you Expect from your Time at the Geneva Academy?

I expect to write a great deal, to engage with colleagues, and to have the time to think in a considered way on the complex legal issues my book engages. As Special Rapporteur, I also hope to have the time to engage with colleagues on some of the pressing challenges facing my mandate.


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