WASHINGTON, DC • BRUSSELS • BAGHDAD
William “Spence” Spencer is Executive Director of IILHR. Spencer has more than 25 years of professional experience in diplomacy, human rights, democracy and governance, international law, and crisis management and response, both as a career diplomat and as an advocate in the field. He is intimately familiar with post-conflict rebuilding and peace and constitutional negotiations in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
In 1996 Spencer helped to configure Bosnia’s first post-war elections and oversaw implementation of human rights components of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a career foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department, Spencer served as Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room, supported Transatlantic institutions such as NATO and the OSCE, and coordinated policy and resource support for human rights in the former Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal. He served as a delegate to the Rome Conference to establish an International Criminal Court in 1998.
In Iraq, he has advised the government of Iraq on diverse constitutional and legislative issues since 2005. He currently oversees a legal team that provides advice to both the Iraqi Federal and Kurdistan Regional parliaments, and he works on accountability and justice issues with Iraq’s judiciary.
With more than 15 years of experience in constitution-making, peace processes, rule of law, democracy, governance, law and development, Robin Gary provides clients with strong leadership and creative solutions based on comparative practice and solid recommendations on implementation for resolving complex constitutional, rule of law, and process issues. Ms. Gary is a natural born leader with proven success as a strong project leader, people manager, coalition builder, and solution provider who pays attention to detail and is action oriented.
She has worked for several international organizations in different complex, post-conflict settings throughout Africa, the Middle East, and South America, including the UN Development Programme, IILHR, and the Public International Law & Policy Group. Ms. Gary has also served as Litigation Staff Attorney at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison LLP; as Pro Bono Immigration Legal Advisor to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; and as an officer on Pew Charitable Trusts’ International Oceans & Protecting Ocean Life on the High Seas Campaign. She is a graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law and holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from American University’s School for International Service as well as a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the University of Vermont. Additionally, she is versed in the practice of Shamanic energy healing. Ms. Gary is a native Washingtonian and a licensed member of the District of Columbia Bar. In her free time, Ms. Gary enjoys traveling and furthering her skills in sailing and yoga.
IILHR Brussels Director Nicola Giovannini also serves as President of Droit au Droit (Right to Law), an international non-governmental organization committed to the promotion of human rights and rule of law in judicial and penal procedures, and as European Public Affairs & Media Coordinator for No Peace Without Justice. From 1999 to 2004, Giovannini served as Senior Political Advisor to the Lista Bonino, a European Parliament bloc. From 1993 to 1999, he served as Advocacy Advisor to several international NGOs committed to the promotion of human rights and international justice. He is the author as well as translator of numerous books and articles on political and legal theory, as well as co-editor of The Use of Solitary Confinement in European Prisons (Editions Bruylant, 2004).
Benjamin Ojoleck, Legal Advisor, has over five years of experience in legislative strengthening and development on both national and international levels, most recently with the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya. With UNEP, Ojoleck provided legislative assistance to revise laws and regulations in developing countries, and assisted states to meet obligations under international legal instruments. Most recently, he contributed to development of a new multilateral compact on ending plastics pollution. Prior to his position at UNEP, Ojoleck worked with Gowling WLG and Zuber & Company LLP, both private law firms based in Canada. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Dalhousie University – Schulich School of Law in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Brian Gorman, Project Officer, has advised governments and international organizations on legal and policy matters for over 23 years. He has extensive experience in the Middle East including in the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan where he served as an International Rule of Law Advisor to the Afghan Government’s Ministry of Interior, designing and implementing policy and regulatory reforms. Most recently, Gorman has been working as an Assistant District Attorney in Dekalb County in Georgia. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Vermont Law School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University.
Ezzeldeen Khalil is a project officer with extensive experience working in mentoring and training support roles to the security sector in Iraq. He speaks and reads fluent Arabic with a strong working knowledge of regional dialects. Khalil is currently working on IILHR’s Judicial Support program.
A core part of his experience has involved the formation and management of research collection and analysis teams to make use of and fuse modern qualitative and quantitative data with more traditional research collection methods in support of government-sponsored projects. He is also experienced in developing and building relationships with local government interlocutors to facilitate project delivery.
Najim Al-Khaphaji has served with IILHR since 2008, starting as Legal Coordinator. Currently Senior Advisor, Al-Khapaji has been instrumental in facilitating interaction between the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the judiciary, civil society, and IILHR. In addition to his day-to-day leadership, he has organized several conferences and events for members of parliament in Erbil and Kurdistan, and he has taken the lead in convening judges, media representatives, members of parliament, and academics to better inform the legislative drafting process on specific topics.
Prior to joining IILHR, Al-Khaphaji worked with the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) where he served as liaison between PILPG and the Constitutional Review and Legal Committees of the Iraqi Parliament. Al-Khaphaji also worked as a manager with the Iraqi Institute of Peace, where he was active in encouraging participation in the election process and in dialogues leading to the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution.
Al-Khaphaji brings to IILHR a wealth of experience working with the Iraqi Parliament and civil society on the rule of law. He holds a degree in Computer Data Processing and is a member of the Iraqi Translators Association.
Athraa Al-Hassani joined IILHR in November 2021 as Legal Advisor. She is a practicing lawyer and has worked in the field of civil society as a civil activist in the field of human rights and women’s issues for more than 20 years. She was director of the Model Iraqi Women Organization, as well as Deputy Head of the Legal Clinics Network. She has represented Iraq in international conferences throughout the world and is an expert in the field of democracy and human rights and in promoting the participation of women in the political process.
Al-Hassani holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry Science and a law degree. She has had in-depth experience working with civil society organizations. She graduated from the International Visitor Program in Election Observation and the Application of Democratic Principles in 2012. She was a candidate for the Iraqi Parliament in 2014.
Prior to 2004, Al-Hassani worked in the field of education for 18 years and as the managing director for a private company for 10 years.
Ali Zalzala has extensive experience in translation and interpretation and project coordination with NGOs operating in Iraq and Kurdistan, including MSF and IQPeace. Zalzala is currently part of the project coordination team that is responsible for translation, interpretation, and coordination across all IILHR programs in Baghdad. Zalzala is a graduate of the University of Technology in Baghdad, with a bachelor’s degree in Materials Engineering, and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Summer School of Public Policy and Law. Zalzala speaks Arabic, English, and French.
Mohammed Alqasem Albadri is an interpreter-translator and program coordinator at IILHR. He has a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature. In addition, he received his master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from UPM University in Malaysia, where he worked as a research assistant and proofreader. Before joining IILHR in April 2022, he was a lecturer at Al-Iraqia University in the department of English language and literature and at Baghdad College of Medical Sciences. Albadri was Head of the Academic Evaluation and Quality Control Unit at Baghdad College of Medical Sciences. He also taught English for Specific Purposes in the Department of Pharmacy. He is also the Speaking Instructor at Baghdad Business School, which is a non-profit organization that plays a key role in supplementing the private sector with fresh graduates who possess the necessary soft skills of entry-level employees.
Besides his interest in teaching, he has extensive experience in translating from English to Arabic and vice versa. Albadri translated for prominent Iraqi political figures in many international and national conferences. The Iraqi Creative Association awarded him for the services and activities he provided to international students at UPM university.
Albadri’s area of expertise is discourse analysis — a research method for studying written or spoken language in relation to its social context. It aims to understand how language is used in real-life situations, which is highly significant and related to his work as a translator.
Jabran Mansoor joined IILHR in 2008 as Legal Translator. Since then, he has translated official letters and documents, draft legislation, laws currently in force, and reports and legal handbooks. He translated a series of reports released during Iraq’s Daesh War, including Crossroads: The Future of Iraq’s Minorities After ISIS; No Way Home: Iraq’s Minorities on the Verge of Disappearance; and Between the Millstones: The State of Iraq’s Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul. He has also translated legal handbooks and references such as Iraq’s Minorities and Other Vulnerable Groups: Legal Framework, Documentation and Human Rights; Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights: Bylaws, Regulations and Legal Framework; Minorities and the Law in Iraq; and Women and the Law in Iraq.
Before joining IILHR, Mansoor worked as a translator and interpreter with a number of Iraqi NGOs and international organizations, including International Foundation for Electoral System, International Institute for the Rule of Law, the Civil Constitutional Forum, the American Bar Association, and the Public International Law and Policy Group.
Madeleine Chartrand joined IILHR in 2023 as Program Manager. Previously, she worked and published in academia. She has extensive experience with the qualitative and quantitative analysis of legal documents. Her areas of research focus include gender and labor law. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Manitoba and holds a Master’s and PhD from York University, winning several prestigious federal and institutional grants to fund her graduate studies there.
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