Rare Feat

Five students chosen to present their research at major international forum
Anthony Ghaly headshot
TEAM EFFORT: 3L Anthony Ghaly credits classmates and faculty mentors for helping to shape his selected paper. Photo by Shelby Knowles

Every year, the American Society of International Law receives abundant submissions for its annual research conference. Predictably, those selected are almost always faculty scholars.

But Berkeley Law recently flipped the script with five current or recent students chosen to discuss their work: Anthony Ghaly ’23, Helena von Nagy ’22, Simone Lieban Levine ’21, and Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Ph.D. students Haley Anderson and Daimeon Shanks.

“It was so impressive to have so many of our students present,” says Professor Katerina Linos. “It represents the cumulative efforts of many Berkeley Law faculty over the years.”

Shanks and Anderson, who both worked at the United Nations’ International Law Commission, presented research in response to the book Invisible Atrocities by University of Hawaii Law Professor Randle DeFalco. The author invited them to submit pieces, present during a conference roundtable, and participate in an otherwise all-faculty scholar workshop.

Ghaly and von Nagy developed their papers in the Human Rights and Social Justice Writing Workshop taught by Eric Stover and Carolyn “Patty” Blum. Ghaly’s focused on forced sterilization against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and grew from studying similar sterilizations in Peru — with Levine on Zoom — as a student researcher at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center.

“Simone graduated during the pandemic, so we didn’t actually get to meet in person until this conference,” says Ghaly, now collaborating with her on other projects. “Helena and I have also known each other throughout law school. Having the two of them there at the conference was really meaningful. It was comforting and encouraging to have such a supportive community with me.”

In 2019, von Nagy was studying in England when Shamima Begum — who left the U.K. four years earlier at age 15 to join ISIS in Syria — had her citizenship revoked while trying to return. Frequent discussions about it with British classmates fueled her interest in studying the issue more broadly.

“When I came to law school, I learned more about the process of denaturalization for human rights offenders following Alien Tort Statute cases, and decided to turn back to Shamima’s story and write about the surge in denationalization in Northern Europe,” von Nagy says.

Levine studied a case in Professor Khiara M. Bridges’ Reproductive Rights and Justice class in which 10 Latina women unsuccessfully sued a Los Angeles doctor — as well as other medical providers and government officials — who sterilized them without their informed consent. Comparing racist stereotypes around hypersexuality and hyperfertility with the histories of involuntary sterilization for Roma and Latina women, Levine wrote a “more practical than academic” article to help guide U.S. policy initiatives and litigation strategies.

“Berkeley Law is a serious powerhouse in churning out international legal scholars,” she says. “Being affiliated with its reputation, resources, and connections has proven to be the best investment I’ve ever made.” — Andrew Cohen