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Independent International Panel on Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations - Biographies

In January 2024, the Independent International Panel (the Panel) on Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations was formed to identify, clarify and address gaps in international legal frameworks related to arbitrary detention for political leverage.

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Chair – Charles C. Jalloh

Charles C. Jalloh, a Distinguished University Professor at Florida International University (FIU), is a prominent figure in the field of international law and plays a pivotal role in shaping the discourse on international legal affairs. He is currently in his second five-year term as a member of the International Law Commission, where he was elected Chair of the Drafting Committee for the 70th (2018) session, General Rapporteur for the 71st (2019) session and Second Vice-Chair for the 74th (2023) session. He has chaired the Commission’s Working Group on Methods of Work and also serves as its Special Rapporteur for the topic “Subsidiary means for the determination of rules of international law.”

A prolific scholar and formerly a Fullbright Distinguished Chair in Public International Law at Lund University in Sweden, Professor Jalloh is the founding editor of the African Journal of Legal Studies and serves as a member of the editorial boards of the American Journal of International Law, the Canadian Yearbook of International Law and the Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law. His extensive scholarship includes numerous publications in renowned peer-reviewed journals and several books, with leading academic presses.

Professor Jalloh has a long history of advising governments and international organizations on issues of domestic and international law. In addition to serving as Counsel at the Department of Justice in Canada, he has worked in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and as a visiting professional, in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also represented several African States in proceedings before various international courts. He has been a member of numerous expert groups, including as Chair of the Panel of Experts on the Election of the ICC Prosecutor for the Assembly of States of the International Criminal Court and the Advisory Board for the ASIL Taskforce on Policy Options for U.S. Engagement with the ICC, and lectures at esteemed institutions and forums worldwide.

Professor Jalloh’s academic journey includes degrees from the University of Guelph, McGill University and the University of Oxford, where he was honored as a Chevening Scholar. He subsequently earned a doctorate in International Law from the University of Amsterdam. Outside of academia, he is the founder of the A Center for International Law and Policy in Africa, supported by the Open Society Foundations. His multifaceted contributions underscore his commitment to advancing legal scholarship, international justice and the rule of law on a global scale.

Marja Lehto

Marja Lehto is Ambassador for International Legal Affairs and Senior Expert in Public International Law at the Legal Service of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. She is also the Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki. With a distinguished career, she previously served as Finland’s Ambassador to Luxembourg, from 2009 to 2014. Prior to that, she was Director of the Unit for Public International Law at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, from 2000 to 2009, and Counsellor and Legal Advisor at the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations in New York, from 1995 to 2000.

From 2017 to 2022, Ambassador Lehto was a key member of the UN International Law Commission and served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts. For her work in this area, she was awarded the prestigious Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy in 2023, along with former ambassador Marie Jacobsson of Sweden. She is also currently a member of the Council of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

Ambassador Lehto’s leadership on the international stage is evidenced by her active participation in numerous negotiations and conferences and her chairpersonship of several international bodies. Her scholarly contributions span a wide array of international legal questions, ranging from the intricacies of the law of the sea to issues such as state succession, peace and security, armed conflict, terrorism and cyber law.

Ambassador Lehto continues to make significant strides in advancing the understanding and application of international law, contributing both to diplomatic efforts and academic discourse.

Claudio Grossman

Claudio Grossman is Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus and Raymond I. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law, where he served as dean for 21 years. Professor Grossman has left an indelible mark on academia and various international and domestic organizations.

Professor Grossman is a member of the UN International Law Commission (re-elected in 2022) and serves as the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on the immunity of state officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction (elected in 2023). Professor Grossman has extensive experience in international litigation and has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to advancing the rule of law, human rights and democracy before UN bodies as well as regional forums. He represented or decided seminal cases concerning reparations, women’s rights, separation of powers, disappearances, freedom of expression, prohibition against torture and inhumane treatment, children’s rights and the rights of Indigenous populations, among others. Professor Grossman served as Chile’s agent at the International Court of Justice (2015 to 2018), and in March 2023 he was elected Vice-President of the Technical Admissibility Committee for Chile’s ongoing constitutional process. Professor Grossman served as a member of the UN Committee against Torture (2003 to 2015) and as its chair from 2008 to 2015. He also chaired the UN’s human rights treaty bodies in 2013.

He served as member (1994 to 2000) of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, was twice elected its president, and was appointed by the Commission to serve as the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Professor Grossman has authored numerous publications on international law, international organizations and human rights, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the field.

Jelena Pejic

Jelena Pejic, a distinguished practitioner and scholar of international humanitarian law (IHL), is widely recognized as a leading authority in her field. She is currently a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Lieber Institute for Law & Warfare at the United States Military Academy at West Point and was the Institute’s Lieber Scholar for 2023.

With a remarkable career spanning more than 2 decades at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Ms. Pejic played a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s legal policy landscape on a range of issues, including detention in armed conflict and other situations of violence. As the Senior Legal Advisor in the ICRC’s Legal Division, she was also in charge of an ICRC-Swiss government project aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of IHL compliance mechanisms.

Prior to her tenure with the ICRC, Ms. Pejic served as a senior program coordinator at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York (now known as Human Rights First). In this role, she spearheaded the organization’s work on international criminal justice, including leading the Human Rights First’s delegation to the 1998 Rome Conference.

Jelena Pejic holds an LLM degree from Columbia Law School in New York and a law degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade. She was a lecturer in public international law and international relations at the University of Belgrade law school.

Ms. Pejic’s influence extends beyond her professional roles, as she continues to contribute significantly to the discourse on IHL, human rights and criminal law through extensive writings and presentations. Her commitment to advancing legal frameworks and protections remains a cornerstone of her impactful career.

Seong-Phil Hong

Seong-Phil Hong has more than 25 years of comprehensive expertise in international human rights instruments, norms and principles. He is currently a member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, and served as chairperson and distinguished member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from 2014 to 2021. He also served as a member of the Advisory Council of Jurists, Asia Pacific Forum, from 2009.

In the Republic of Korea, Professor Hong has actively collaborated with key governmental bodies and provided crucial legal advice on human rights policies and national reports to international human rights conventions. Notably, from 2001 to 2002, he played a pivotal role as a member of the presidential committee tasked with establishing a national human rights commission.

Professor Hong continues to demonstrate his steadfast commitment to defending human rights both domestically and internationally. In the Republic of Korea, he co-founded the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, a prominent NGO that advocates for the rights of North Korean citizens. Through international conferences, Professor Hong’s advocacy efforts have focused on shedding light on injustices within North Korean detention centres and political prisons. He is also active in multilateral forums, including the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UN General Assembly in New York.

Professor Hong obtained a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Arts in International Law from Seoul National University’s esteemed School of Law. His academic journey continued at Yale Law School in the United States, where he earned both a Master of Laws and a Doctorate of Juridical Science. Throughout his career, he has been keen on ensuring that actual victims have rights to remedies under international law in the cases of historical injustices and gross violations of human rights. He has made significant contributions to the understanding and progression of international law and addressing human rights issues, through numerous books and articles. Through his diverse roles, Professor Hong continues to shape and advance the discourse on human rights and international law.

Michael A. Newton

Michael Newton is widely recognized as an authoritative figure on issues related to terrorism, transnational justice and the conduct of hostilities. He has had an illustrious career, with a prolific portfolio of more than 100 publications, expert witness roles in terrorism trials, and inclusion in the International Criminal Court (ICC) List of Counsel. At Vanderbilt University Law School, Professor Newton is the driving force behind the School’s International Law Practice Lab and directs the esteemed International Legal Studies Program. Notably, Professor Newton was the Senior Advisor to the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. In this role, he implemented policy positions related to accountability mechanisms in ad hoc international tribunals and other internationalized hybrid efforts and played a pivotal role in negotiating the ICC’s Elements of Crimes document. He was on the UN planning mission that established the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He also coordinated U.S. support and provided advice on accountability mechanisms in Iraq and other tribunals. He remains deeply involved in documenting crimes committed by Da’esh and providing support to prosecutions arising from these crimes.

Professor Newton also had a distinguished military career of more than 21 years, with numerous deployments including in Iraq, Kosovo and Haiti. Notably, his deployments included organizing human rights education for multinational forces.

Beyond the military arena, Professor Newton’s commitment to legal education is evident in his roles teaching international and operational law at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School at the University of Virginia and at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He has also advised judges and prosecutors in domestic contexts around the world and been active in human rights litigation and shaping domestic statutory mechanisms.

Actively participating in various international law organizations, Professor Newton served on the executive council of the American Society of International Law and contributed his expertise to initiatives such as the Genocide Prevention Task Force. His continued commitment is exemplified through advisory roles for the American Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Project and Center for Human Rights, showcasing his enduring impact on legal scholarship, education and global initiatives.

Shaheen Sardar Ali

Shaheen Sardar Ali is a distinguished scholar and leading authority in the fields of Islamic law and jurisprudence, the rights of women and children, and international human rights law, with extensive expertise on legal and constitutional issues in Pakistan, South Asia and the broader Muslim world.

Having served as Rector of the National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE) in Pakistan and as a Professor of Law at the University of Peshawar for 25 years, Professor Ali has made significant contributions to legal academia. She also directed the Women’s Study Centre at the University of Peshawar.

Professor Ali’s commitment to advancing women’s rights is evident in her roles on the Commission of Inquiry for Women and the Prime Minister’s Consultative Committee on Women in Pakistan. Her groundbreaking achievements include being the first woman cabinet minister for health, population welfare and women’s development in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and the inaugural chair of the National Commission on the Status of Women in Pakistan.

Internationally, Professor Ali served as a member and vice-chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from 2008 to 2014. International organizations have consulted extensively with her, and she has also provided expert legal opinions on Islamic law in courts in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Professor Ali’s commitment to advancing human rights is also evident through her participation in the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran, formed by the President of the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the protests and alleged human rights violations during the September 2022 protests in Iran.

Acknowledged as one of the 100 most influential women in Pakistan, Professor Ali received the British Muslims Annual Honors achievement plaque in the House of Lords in May 2002. Her academic qualifications include an LLB (Peshawar), LLM (Hull), MA (Peshawar) and PhD (Hull).

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