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Two Vermont Law School Students Win Helton Fellowship

March 27, 2013 — A competitive fellowship in international law and human rights has been awarded to two students at Vermont Law School this year.

The Arthur C. Helton Fellowship is overseen by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and honors Arthur Helton—a renowned advocate for refugees and the internally displaced. Mr. Helton was killed in the August 2003 bombing of the UN mission in Baghdad along with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Viera de Mello and 20 other individuals.

The ASIL Helton Fellowship Program provides micro-grants to assist law students and young professionals to pursue field work and research on significant issues of international law, human rights and humanitarian affairs. According to the ASIL, “Helton Fellowship micro-grants are intended to ensure that these individuals have access to modest amounts of funding that can often stand between them and their first professional opportunities to become effective practitioners, experts, and scholars of international law.”

Joseph Kaifala ‘13 will use his fellowship in Sierra Leone to pursue further work with The Jeneba Project and its Memory Project. The Jeneba Project helps re-build the country through education. It constructs schools, provides school supplies, and secures scholarships for girls so that they are not left out of educational opportunities. An initiative of the Memory Project is to give voice to former child soldiers by helping them video record their stories, thereby creating a record of their first-hand experiences and ensuring that their perspectives are heard. These testimonies will then inform dialogue and discussion both in Sierra Leone and beyond. Joseph wrote his International Human Rights seminar paper on international legal issues relating to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and last semester was a VLS Center for Applied Human Rights Fellow, working in partnership with the London-based NGO, Child Soldiers International, in examining international standards applicable to non-state armed groups, who are heavily involved in using child soldiers. Among Joseph’s recent initiatives was the National Symposium on Memory and Remembrance for school children from all over Sierra Leone, which he organized in January of this year, to help his country deal with the past while building the future.

Carina Roselli ‘13 will be working with Nature Iraq in southern Iraq. Carina was first drawn to work on environmental issues in southern Iraq and on the plight of the displaced Marsh Arabs when flying missions over the region as a member of the National Guard. She wrote her International Human Rights seminar paper on the subject, having been inspired by Nature Iraq founder Dr. Azzam Alwash, an engineer whose work to restore the southern marshes of Iraq was chronicled in the powerful PBS Nature program, Braving Iraq. She has since been in touch with Ms. Mishkat al-Moumin, who was the first Minister of the Environment in the new Iraqi regime and was founder and the first CEO of the Women and the Environment Network, a UN-funded organization established to empower rural women in the Iraqi marshlands to participate in the environmental decision-making process.

“This is an impressive achievement for these Vermont Law School students” said Stephanie Farrior, Professor of Law and Director of the International and Comparative Law Program at Vermont Law School. “I am especially pleased that these particular students were awarded fellowships in the name of someone who devoted his life to refugees and the internally displaced—with Carina Roselli working on a project that will help the internally displaced in Iraq, where Helton met his untimely death, and Joseph Kaifala who was himself a refugee and is now a successful law student.”

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