Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Irene Atamian joined ISHR as its business manager in September 2006. Ms. Atamian exercises primary responsibility for ISHR’s administrative and programmatic budgets, as well as its personnel and instructional expenses, and for all grants and gift accounts. She received a Master of City and Regional Planning from Cornell University in August 2005. Prior to attending Cornell, she worked as an analyst at Nielsen Media Research. Ms. Atamian holds a Bachelor of Science in economics and finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
Business and Human Rights
Joanne Bauer is Senior Researcher, Business and Human Rights Program and Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs. She co-leads the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum based at Columbia and involving more than 260 faculty at 180 institutions in more than 30 countries. Bauer is editor of Forging Environmentalism: Justice, Livelihood and Contested Environments (ME Sharpe, 2006), and co-editor of The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 1999). From 2006-2013, Bauer was Senior Researcher at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, where she was responsible for Asia, as well as the thematic areas of women's rights, HIV/AIDS and access to medicines globally. Prior to that (1994-2005) she was Director of Studies at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs where she founded research programs on human rights and environmental values, directed the Fellows program, and founded the periodical, Human Rights Dialogue. Bauer is Senior Fellow, Melbourne University Law School and an adviser and consultant to a number of non-profits and projects, including Inclusive Development International, Accountability Counsel, Oxfam America, and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
Yasmine Ergas is the Director of the Specialization on Gender and Public Policy and Lecturer in Discipline of International and Public Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Ergas focuses on issues regarding gender and women’s rights. Her current research addresses the emergence of a global market in reproductive services and the legal and public policy implications of the transnationalization of everyday life. Ergas has served as a consultant to international and domestic policy organizations, including the OECD, UNESCO, the Millennium Villages Project, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, CENSIS (a major applied social research institute in Italy) and on the staff of the Social Science Research Council. She has been recognized for her teaching at SIPA, co-led a working group of the Committee on International Trade of the New York City Bar Association on child labor and international trade, and practiced law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, and Studio Legale Pedersoli. Among other current engagements, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University, is the co-convener of Columbia University’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Council, and is a member of several editorial boards, including the Journal of Human Rights Practice. Ergas has written widely on issues regarding gender and human rights, including most recently, essays on Babies without Borders: Human Rights, Human Dignity and the Regulation of International Commercial Surrogacy (Emory International Law Review, 2013), Placing Gender on the Agenda of International Affairs: Changing Conceptual and Institutional Landscapes (Journal of International Affairs, 2013). She is currently co-editing a book on Bodies and Borders: Negotiating Motherhood in the 21st Century.
Director, Capacity Building
Stephanie V. Grepo joined ISHR as the Director of Capacity Building in 2008. During her tenure, she has increased the number of female participants in the Human Rights Advocates Program, secured funding to create openings in HRAP for LGBT and disability rights advocates, and encouraged HRAP alumni—who can be found in 93 countries around the globe—to cooperate across class years and geographic boundaries. She has advised alumni on their work ranging from youth empowerment in South Sudan and Bosnia to capacity building for indigenous peoples to advocacy around prisoners’ rights in Nigeria. She has assisted them with grant proposals that have garnered $3 million in funding from the Global Fund for Women, the National Endowment for Democracy and United States Institute of Peace. In 2011, she created a summer program at ISHR through which Columbia University students volunteer at organizations led by HRAP and AHDA alumni around the globe. She designed and won funding to develop ISHR’s first MOOC which is on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and can be found on edX.
With the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe from 2000 to 2007, Stephanie developed multi-ethnic experiential education programs in Kosovo; created and led a $2 million euros grants program to support confidence-building projects at the grassroots level in North Macedonia; worked on return and integration issues and led a field office of 10 staff in one of the most politically sensitive regions of Croatia; and served as the youth and education advisor to the OSCE Head of Mission in Serbia. She has observed elections in Bosnia and Georgia. A lecturer at The New School, Stephanie has led graduate-level practicums with clients including the International Rescue Committee and Transparency International. In 2021, she joined the faculty of The School of The New York Times. She earned a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her volunteer experience with resettling refugees through Catholic Charities led her to work in human rights.
Director of Education Programs
Gergana Halpern is a program coordinator working primarily with ISHR’s human rights education programs. Prior to joining ISHR, Ms. Halpern was a legal advocacy associate at the Scholars at Risk Network, working on SAR’s Academic Freedom Advocacy initiative. Ms. Halpern also served as a research associate with Amnesty International USA and as the Millennium Development Goals campaign organizer at Amnesty International’s United Nations office in New York. Ms. Halpern holds a JD with a concentration in International and Comparative Law from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Professor Martin, together with Professor Louis Henkin (University Professor Emeritus/Special Service Professor, Columbia University), founded ISHR (then the Center for the Study of Human Rights) in 1978, and served as its executive director through June 2007. Before coming to Columbia to complete his PhD at Teachers College (with a dissertation on education in Africa during the 19th century), he spent several years as a missionary and university teacher in Africa. Over the years, Professor Martin’s primary research interest has been human rights education, especially in Africa, as well as religion and human rights. Currently, his work is focused on the impact of multinational corporations on developing countries from a human rights perspective.
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Magdalena holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from New York University with a human rights concentration and a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Buenos Aires. Originally from Argentina, she has been based in New York since 2011. She has worked for organizations such as Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and Women Across Frontiers International Magazine. She is a member of the Women’s Human Rights Coordination group for Amnesty International where her main focus is monitoring and writing about human rights violations in Latin America, especially women’s rights and discrimination issues.
Director of Graduate Studies
Lara J. Nettelfield is a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Human Rights at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. She is currently working on an oral history project, The New Humanitarians, about the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. Her research interests include human rights, forced migration, transitional justice, technology and society, and social movements.
In 2015, she published a co-authored manuscript, Srebrenica in the Aftermath of Genocide (Cambridge University Press). This book reveals how interactions between local, national and international interventions - from refugee return and resettlement to commemorations, war crimes trials, immigration proceedings and election reform - have led to subtle, positive effects of social repair, despite persistent attempts at denial. Srebrenica in the Aftermath of Genocide received Honorable Mention for the International Studies Association's Ethnicity, Migration and Nationalism (ENMISA) Distinguished Book Award (2015) and was shortlisted for the 2015 Rothschild Prize of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN). In 2015, Senado Kreso translated it into Bosnian for the Institute for History (Sarajevo).
Nettelfield is also the author of Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Hague Tribunal's Impact in a Postwar State (Cambridge University Press, 2010), which former Hague prosecutor Richard Goldstone has called “essential reading, well-balanced, and realistic.” Courting Democracy won the 2011 Marshall Shulman prize of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES).
A political scientist by training, Nettelfield received Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University and an A.B. degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She also completed a certificate at Columbia's Harriman Institute. She has worked for international organizations such as the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, in addition to serving as an advisor for non-governmental organizations. She has served on the editorial board of the British International Studies Association’s (BISA) flagship journal Review of International Studies (RIS), East European Politics, and the Sarajevski žurnal za društvena pitanja (Sarajevo Social Science Review). She frequently contributes to the press, including the New York Times, the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Foreign Policy, the BBC, the Edmonton Journal, OpenDemocracy, NBC, the Detroit Free Press, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) (UK).Twitter: @LJNettelfield
Peace-Building and Human Rights
David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Phillips has worked as a Senior Adviser to the United Nations Secretariat (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (1999-2000). He was a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert to the U.S. Department of State during the administrations of Presidents Clinton (Bureau for European Affairs 1999-2001), Bush (Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs 2001), and Obama (Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs 2010-2011).
Phillips held academic positions at Harvard University's Center for Middle East Studies, Belfer Center for Science in International Affairs, and the Program on Humanitarian Affairs. He was Executive Director of Columbia University’s International Conflict Resolution Program, Director of the Program on Conflict Prevention and Peace-building at the American University, Associate Professor at New York University’s Department of Politics, and Professor at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.
Phillips worked at think tanks, as Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Council on Foreign Relations/Center for Preventive Action, Senior Fellow and Program Director at the Atlantic Council of the United States, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Director of the European Centre for Common Ground, and Project Director at the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo.
Phillips has also served as a foundation executive, as President of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation and Executive Director of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
Phillips worked in media as an Analyst, Expert, and Commentator for NBC Universal, CNBC, and the BBC World Service.
Phillips is author of The Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East (2014), Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and U.S. Intervention (2012), From Bullets to Ballots: Violent Muslim Movements in Transition (2008), Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (2005), Unsilencing the Past: Track Two Diplomacy and Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation (2005). His upcoming book is Turkey: An Uncertain Ally (2017).
Phillips has also authored dozens of policy reports, as well as more than 100 articles in leading publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, CNBC.com, and Foreign Affairs.
Indigenous Peoples' Rights Program