Editor in chief
Mariann Rikka is the editor and founder of the blog. She has a Master degree in law from the University of Tartu and in human rights from a European master programme in human rights and democratisation (E.MA). She is currently a chief expert in the General Education Department of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, where she works in the field of human rights and human rights education, among other things. She has previously worked as a legal adviser in the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Estonian Ministry of the Interior and as a history and social studies teacher in the framework of the Youth to School Programme (Teach for All). For Mariann human rights and the culture of human rights are a passion – that is why the idea for creating this blog occurred.
Karin is from Tallinn, Estonia. During her law studies at BA level at the University of Tartu she has gained practical work experience within the legal field through voluntary work as preliminary legal adviser at Estonian Lawyers Association. This position helped her develop her researching and analytical skills, gave her valuable insight and hands-on experience handling cases. Based on the experience she decided to become a member of Estonian Lawyers Association. She found that in every situation or case she came across, the most important element is people. People are everywhere and we all need to communicate with them ie. solving various complex legal issues. Karin has also lived in Sweden, USA and UK, travelled the world, gained work experience in international environment and is now gaining deeper understanding of international law and human rights by studying law at University of Tartu on MA level. She is eager to improve her knowledge and study more closely the topics of cyberspace, technology and international law and international protection of intellectual property.
As many studies have shown that beards alone do not make people any wiser, Sven decided to study law in University of Tartu apart from growing a beard. At the moment he studies in masters’s programme, where he specialises in legal philosophy and international law. Human rights as a basic values have always been a great interest during his studies, so he has also published some opinions regarding the matter. With his articles Sven wishes to initiate more critical and more far-reaching discussions about human rights than the approach in jurisprudence to this day has done.
Nargiza is a master’s student in University of Tartu, studying in international law and human rights programme. She moved to Tallinn from Kyrgyz Republic in 2015 to study International Relations in Estonian Diplomatic School. Her background is law, since it is her passion and she believes that her future will be connected with international law and human rights. She graduated from Kyrgyz Slavic University, law faculty in 2010, then gained an experience working as a lawyer in a private bank for 4 years. But really started to interest in international law working as a law analyst in a joined project between Kyrgyz Government and OSCE. She feels that law is not ending with borders of country, there are universal norms and standards and she wants to help to spread them everywhere. Her audience – all human being, who cares about their rights and ready to fight for them if needed. On her free time she usually spends time with her family and friends.
Fahima is from Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. She completed her first LL.B. (Hon’s) degree and LL.M from the University of Dhaka and enrolled herself in the Dhaka Bar association in 1998. In order to pursue her parents dream, she started her second LL.B. (Hon’s) at the University of East London in England. After the successful completion of the Bar Vocational course from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, she was called to the Bar by the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. After returning to Bangladesh she enrolled in the Bangladesh Bar Council and became an advocate in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. During her work she has realized that more in-depth knowledge in human rights would help her to do her work better. So, when the University of Tartu introduced the Masters programme in international law and human rights, she decided to take part and studies again to gain new knowledge and experience in a new country, in a four hundred years old prestigious university.
Tamilla was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1994. At the age of sixteen she moved to Istanbul as she was accepted to the program of Political Science and Public Administration at one of the best universities in Turkey – Istanbul University. Studies were tough and she spent five years there. During this period she was thinking about widening her world view and exploring new places. After some time of English studies in London in 2013, she decided to do her master’s degree in Europe and learn more about European countries. Now, after a year from the graduation of her bachelor’s degree, her dream was come true and she is studying international law and human rights in Tallinn, Estonia.
Karlis is currently studying in the University of Tartu to pursue a master’s degree in international law and human rights. He has previously studied law in University of Essex in England. He also works as a lawyer in the Estonian Consumer Protection Board. He takes part in the blog project because he feels that it is very important for people to value the rights given to them. In his writings he tries to give interesting and pertinent information that would be understandable also to a non-lawyer. Also, he hopes that this blog can enhance the relevance of human rights in our society and show that actually we should all care for human rights.
Yulian is from the city of Izmail in the South of Ukraine but as he does not like tying himself to one place for too long, he has lived in many places. Yulian obtained his BA in Law and Jurisprudence at the National Academy of Internal Affairs in Kiev, and completed an internships in the Legislation Institute of the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament) of Ukraine and the Ukrainian office of the American Council for International Education. He continued his education in the Roma Graduate Preparation Program in Central European University in Budapest. His academic adventure, as he likes to call it, has now brought him to the University of Tartu where he is doing MA in International Law and Human Rights. Yulian’s main focus in his studies is minority rights, particularly the Roma rights, in relation to which he has also been involved in various projects in Roma NGOs, e.g. on legal and humanitarian aid, issues of Ukrainian Roma IDPs, development of Roma youth movement, sport, culture, and media. He is also passionate about such areas as social justice, history, public policy, and international relations.
Inhyuk Suh is from South Korea. He has worked as an intern at the Center in South Korea where he dealt with human rights issues in the military context. Inhyuk is currently studying international law and human rights in the University of Tartu. He is interested in feminism, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and demonstration, human rights in military context, human rights situation in North Korea and South Korea.
Ana Paula González Villalobos
Ana Paula is from Chihuahua, a city in Northern México. She holds a B.A. in Law from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Chihuahua Campus. During her master studies she complemented her training with studies in Montreal, Canada and Toulouse, France. She has worked at two law firms in Chihuahua City as a paralegal and as a pro bono paralegal during law school. In 2015, she took part in the Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Brussels. She is currently in the process of obtaining a master degree in international law and human rights at the University of Tartu. She loves traveling and getting to know new cultures and people. She is willing to actively participate in human rights discussions, her areas of interests including a wide array of issues, starting from the right to education for children to the freedom of speech to fight corruption.
Ketevan was born in Georgia, Poti, city located on the Black Sea coast. According to the one version of academics, this city might be a place where ancient Phasis was located and where Argonauts reached the ancient Colchis (modern Georgian territory). Ketevan is a lawyer, graduated in 2005, Tbilisi State University. After the 10 years of working experience in different fields (law service, election commission, hotel construction and management, government sector, banking sector) and from being just human rights activist, in 2015 she started working at the NGO, advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, as the lawyer a Head of the Legal Advocacy team. In addition to litigation, she also conducted training in disability rights for lawyers, representatives of local government and women with disabilities. Also, she was the leading drafting process of the Alternative report on Georgia to the CRPD Committee on the first state report. She is an elected member of the board of Georgian Boccia Federation (Paralympic sport). Despite the active practical experience, she thought, she had lack of any formal academic knowledge in human rights, which was causing hurdles in her practice as a human rights advocate. Thus, she decided to complete the International Law and Human Rights program at the University of Tartu. With the academic knowledge she is getting in the University of Tartu, she thinks she will be able to go back in Georgia and with the significant improvement continue litigation, research, advocacy and teaching of human rights.
Lili is from Tbilisi, Georgia. She graduated from Caucasus School of Law in 2017. During her studies at the Caucasus University, she was an intern at National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia. She also was a member of council at student science community. After graduation, she decided to continue the studies at the international level to expand her vision and knowledge in human rights and international law.
She believes that studies at the University of Tartu will give her valuable understandings to the significant insights of International mechanisms role at both international and national level.
Her dedication and respect toward lawyers profession have been driven by the example of her grandfather working in the legal field more than 45 years. From the first handed experience, she has learned that the lawyer’s profession grants the person with the opportunity to pursue ideal aspirations with practical means.
Her essential interest in human rights law refers to the right to education. She believes that equal access to education as well as the enjoyment of the benefits of education by individuals is the key to peaceful and tolerant society.
Heba is from Cairo, Egypt. She graduated from Faculty of Law English Section, Cairo University. After completing her bachelor’s degree studies in 2007, she decided to further her education and study legal translation at the American University in Cairo. Following graduation, she started working as a legal researcher and translator at the Office of the Prosecutor General of Egypt. In 2016, she was granted a scholarship to study “International Relations and European Integration” at Estonian School of Diplomacy in Tallinn. After graduation in May 2017, she wanted to broaden her horizons on human rights, their importance, current trends and challenges related to human rights and freedoms. Therefore, she decided to continue her education and pursue a Master degree in International law and human rights from University of Tartu. She is also a human rights activist and a world traveler.
Cristina is coming from Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova. Wishing to become the second economist in her family, in 2011 she became the student of the Financial-Banking College from Chisinau, where she studied accountancy for 3 years. Luckily, as she likes to say, she understood that even though accountancy is a highly rated profession, her real vocation is “Human Rights”. Therefore, in 2014 she entered the Law faculty at the “Constantin Stere” University in Chisinau. Nevertheless, at the same time, she studied “Global Economy and International Economic Relations”, because a lawyer that knows economy- is an incredible power! In 2018 she obtained her two bachelor degrees and decided to continue her master studies in the Law domain. Now she is a master student of “International Law and Human Rights” at the University of Tartu. Cristina’s biggest dream is to see a world that lives in peace and prosperity, where human rights are of paramount importance. She hopes that her minor contribution will help to achieve this great goal. N
My grandfather always told me “be the change you want to see in the world” and I have always tried to make this quote mine. I have worked out a sort of great aspiration that characterizes me every day: the possibility to make the difference and this world a better place, where people care about sufferings, about justice and human rights. I believe in the power of my voice, in my determination, leadership and courage and I strongly believe that making the difference is possible.
One of the first ever most relevant experiences consisted in the possibility to fight for human rights of Guinea, through the project of MUN (“Model United Nations”). I had to realize a topic in order to discuss problems related to children abuse, criminalization, ethnical and territorial problems. I had the chance to work hard for a country, fight against violence and injustice; it was not easy, I had to speak in front of many people trying to convince them that my ideas could be effective: I shew my leadership, determination and perseverance. Most of the things were new to me, anyway my attitude was positive, I knew that I could change something for real! While, living in Brazil and serving as a volunteer gave me the possibility to develop values such as: living diversity, world citizen and made me appreciate for real my mission. I adapted, focused and took action living everyday with commitment, ambition and responsibility.
Finished my third-year degree, and currently studying “International Law and Human Rights” in Tallinn, I feel more than ready and determined to go deeper, to ask more, to receive more and to act more. It is about me and my future and I can boast of concrete ideas; but at the same time, I do recognize the value of studying, learning, asking and interacting. Because I believe in my goals, I am not afraid to ask myself more and to change environment. Actually, different environments have always played an important role in my life that now I hardly can think about my educational-training without moving and interacting with different conceptions. Through this Master I really would like to mature my ideas, searching for details, new opportunities and challenges. The reason why I decided to start a Master in such a specific realm, is my will to foster my knowledge and experience related to International Law, and in particular the following branches: International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law. From my point of view, it is fundamental for my professional growth to combine theory and practice, the value of study and the application of the tools, in order to find solutions, bring positive and innovative changes and develop certain principles. Henceforth, my university life is characterized by practical experiences that allow me to put into practice what I study and to challenge myself in stimulating environments: this is the key to improve myself and become the more and more competitive.
What really makes me different from the other people is the spark of interest I have for justice, children, men, women that are still waiting for a better future, for a smile of hope, the chance to choose and to live in a world where they can be respected and live without the fear of the next day. I am interested in today issues, in giving them a name and a solution; I trust the international governance and the tools, but among all I believe in the power of decisions and actions. Past and present experiences motivate me every day to study what I am studying and to work hard for this. In future, I really would like to work in an environment where I can support, in an office and on field, goals and programs that aim at developing and improving the human dignity, equality, stability, security, justice and cooperation; and to break down barriers, silence and indifference. I am convinced that in order to face a challenge, its study plays a role. This for sure takes time, experience, determination and perseverance. I have understood I want to study and work hard for all this, this is my life, my future and I am determined to make this becoming my job. I know that I want to spread my voice, be influent and show the world that it is still possible to change things for real
I’m Nuray Gündoğdu from Turkey. I’m holding a bachelor degree in law from University of Ankara in 2014. I am currently a master student at International Law and Human Rights program at University of Tartu. I practiced private and civil law for 3 years in Turkey and have experiences in dealing with migration law, gender discrimination and human rights law. In addition, I used to work as a deputy advisor in Turkish Grand National Assembly. I also have been member of several human rights groups that defend rights of minorities and combat violence in the society.
Samar Elhussieny, human rights defender from Egypt, Holding a Bachelor degree in political science and master’s degree in international management currently enrolled in International law and human rights master’s degree and work as executive director for Andalus Institute for tolerance and anti-violence studies. I have experience as trainer and consultant in human rights education, networking, advocacy, media monitoring, election observation, researching and reporting. I also have an international human rights expertise interning with the European Parliament, Brussels in 2012. I’m a fellow with the Women Initiative administered by Bush Presidential Center and a member of the Gender Working Group of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).
Mario is from Santiago, the capital of Chile. He completed his bachelor’s degree in social sciences, and law with mention in private law, and has a minor in philosophy and literature.
He worked for the financial sector until he realized that private law did not meet his expectations, and began to work closely with immigration and aboriginal issues in his country. He moved to Australia with the aim of perfecting his English, living as a foreigner in another country, and had the opportunity to live in an aboriginal community which sparked his interest in migratory rights and human rights.
He is currently studying his master’s degree in international law and human rights at the University of Tartu to deepen his knowledge in this area.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a banker because my mother was one but soon enough, I realised I was terrible at mathematics especially when it started to involve figures and letters which was from primary six. Then when I got into secondary school, I became interested in Art subjects such as Government and Literature-in-English and I also discovered, and was informed by friends that I was argumentative. These reasons, coupled with the encouragement of an uncle who was a lawyer, propelled me to study law. I was more interested in the public law courses such as constitutional law, human rights law, criminal law and administrative law. I obtained my Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) in 2012 from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2013. Thereafter, I practiced general law in a private law firm and resigned upon getting admitted for a master’s program at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
Human rights to me is not just a course but an instrument to drive change especially because I come from a society where inequality is rampant. There is disparity based on gender, social status and so much more. I have also witnessed cases of maltreatment of persons by law enforcement agencies and these disturb me as the state which is supposed to be the protector of human rights is its biggest abuser. Hence, the need for human rights defenders all over the world. Human rights defenders act to protect and promote human rights and this can be done in so many ways which include the collection and dissemination of information. I hope to be a human rights defender who is able to make a positive impact in the development and protection of human rights and I believe that getting a master’s degree in International Law and Human Rights is just one step closer to my goal.
The happiness of all persons irrespective of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation is important and I hope for a world where human rights are respected and paramount.
Violet Andrew Saliu
My name is Violet Andrew Saliu, I am Nigerian. I hold a B.A in international relations from Cyprus International University, Cyprus, an M.A in Diplomacy and International Relations from Vytatus Magnus University Lithuania, and currently I am pursuing an M.A in international law and human rights at University of Tartu, Estonia. Nigeria is the most populous country in African, with a population of over 200 million people. However, it lagged in the aspect of the promotion and protection of human rights. Frequently, there are cases of violation of human rights in the Nigeria society, and there is equally a scarcity of human rights lawyers because of constant frustration they are faced with from different religious groups, communities and the failed legal system in the country. In addition, most lawyers cannot stomach the tragedies they generally experience daily during their career.
Following my B.A in International Relations from Cyprus, I returned to Nigeria to participate in a one-year compulsory national youth service corps (NYSC). I was assigned to a public high school to teach in the rural south-south region of Nigeria as my primary assignment, and during this period, I became aware of firsthand cases of human rights violation, as majority of my students lived with their guardians and were mostly house helps or maids. Of which, the majority were females. As time went on they became comfortable enough to share their experience during a sensitization program on basic human rights, and most of them spoke up about the issues they are faced with back home such as sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, rape and other human rights abuse. Upon listening to all this different stories and experiences, it drove me into wanting to do more than just listen but make a difference in the society and help protect and defend the rights of people both young and old, male or female in my immediate society. For the above reasons, I decided it would be my service to humanity to study international law and human rights, as it provides an opportunity to advance my knowledge and skills, and thus contribute to the progress of humanity and the consolidation of the values of human rights in the world and especially in Nigeria. For instance, in schools, corporate organizations, markets and homes.
Although, human rights is a profession with considerable opportunity, but then you realize that some human rights lawyer leaves because they could not take it. Sadly, some societies and communities still frown at the idea of fundamental human rights, because of certain deeply rooted cultural and religious values in some part of the country. However, I am constantly encouraged by the fact that my job is to help them see the light and have faith in the justice system, so they know that their voice is heard, and they will get justice and be able to move on and live without fear.
Becoming a human rights lawyer/activist will provide me with the skills to educate young boys and girls, parents and guardians about human rights and the need to protect these rights. Additionally, I will be able to inform them about the importance of education. Because it provides most especially the girl child the opportunity to get educated about their rights and how these rights should be exercise, protected and the need to respect the rights of others. Indeed, when children are presented the opportunity to seek education, they will understand their fundamental human rights and the need to speak up when their rights are violated, as well as help to hold the abuser accountable for their crimes and face the consequences of their crime before the Law.