CLE - Graduate Students' Research

Godwin Dzah, PhD Student

Godwin is a doctoral student at the Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (UBC). His principal research interests are in third world approaches to the interface between national legal regimes and international environmental obligations, natural resource governance and development policy. His present research engagement focuses on developing a functional transnational environmental governance framework in Africa. He has academic and practical environmental governance experience from the Marine and Environmental Law Institute at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, the Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea at the Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations Secretariat and The Hague Academy of International Law. Prior to enrolling at UBC, Godwin taught law and also practised law in Ghana, his home country. Godwin has published on his research interests in international scholarly outlets including the Ocean Yearbook and Westlaw’s Comparative Environmental Law and Regulation.

Catherine Higham, LLM Student

Catherine is an LLM student at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (UBC). She is interested in the intersection between human rights and environmental law. She is currently researching levels of corporate engagement with human rights impact assessments in the context of climate related human rights harms. Before starting her LLM studies, Catherine worked for the international human rights NGO, Reprieve. During her time there, she managed the organisation's work on death penalty cases in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, and the ‘Assassinations Project’, which provides legal support to victims of US drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge and holds a Graduate Diploma in Law from City University, London. Catherine’s current research focuses on human rights ‘due diligence’ and climate liability.

Elaine Hsiao, PhD Topic: Parks and Peace in the Anthropocene: A Critical Legal Review of Transboundary Conservation

Elaine Hsiao is a doctoral student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC, and she is closely affiliated with the Centre for Law & the Environment. Her pioneering research seeks to promote transboundary conservation areas for peace and cooperation in areas with a history of or on-going armed conflict. Many of the world's major armed conflicts have occurred in vulnerable ecological areas, such as biodiversity hotspots, drylands and mountains. Seeking to transcend conflicts and historical divisions, peace parks strive to realize a broad ideal of peace, encompassing international peace between nations, social peace between and within communities, and ecological peace within socio-ecosystems. Elaine's PhD research uses critical legal methods to map socio-political influences on peace park legal frameworks, then identifies the different typologies of legal frameworks and compares the effectiveness of variant legal formulations in promoting international, social and ecological peace based on an evaluation of conservation and peace indicators.

Sarah Itamunoala, LLM Student

Sarah Itamunoala is a legal practitioner from Nigeria and is currently an LLM student at the Peter Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia. Her interests are in the areas of corporate responsibility, human and environmental rights and natural resource management. Her current research focuses on finding implementation mechanisms through which corporate social responsibility could be institutionalized and enforced in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Sarah has gained legal experience from various organizations, including law firms, a Non-Governmental Organization for women and children rights (FIDA) and an oil and gas corporation (Pan-Ocean Oil Corporation) in Nigeria. She hopes to contribute to an increase in enlightenment and awareness on human and environmental rights in Nigeria. She is a graduate of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti and the Nigerian Law School, Kano.


Bingyu (Gloria) Liu, PhD Candidate

Bingyu (Gloria) Liu is a PhD candidate in environmental law at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (UBC). She is an international environmental law and policy researcher from China, with academic background on EU and international environmental law and economic law, and practical consultancy experience on environmental policies in several environmental organizations, such as United Nations Environment Programme, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and the Center for International Sustainable Development Law. Bingyu’s current PhD research focuses on strengthening the environmental conservation by Chinese companies during foreign investment in the context of China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative. More specifically, she examines the regulatory mechanism of environmental and social performances of Chinese infrastructure and energy companies in Kenya, where she conducted empirical research for seven months. Through her research she hopes to assist Chinese overseas companies more effectively identify and mitigate environmental and social risks, in turn nudging their investment towards sustainability in African countries. She has several publications on topics relating to foreign investment and environment, corporate social responsibility and accountability; and natural resources conflict and peace building.


Grace Nosek, PhD Student

Grace Nosek is currently pursuing her PhD in law at the University of British Columbia, studying how to use law to protect climate change science from manufactured doubt. She is fascinated by the intersection of law and story and focuses her research on how law can tell better stories in the pursuit of environmental and social justice. She holds a B.A. from Rice University and law degrees from Harvard Law School and the University of British Columbia. While pursuing her PhD, she is an active member of the Graduate Law Student Society Executive, the Environmental Law Group Executive, and the University of British Columbia Sustainability Collective. Grace has complemented her education through internships at the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. After law school, she completed a Fulbright fellowship in Victoria, Canada studying government review of major natural resource development projects and published a paper on her findings—Re-Imagining Indigenous Peoples’ Role in Natural Resource Development Decision Making: Implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent in Canada Through Indigenous Legal Traditions. To supplement her legal and policy research and advocacy, Grace has written and published two novels in an environmentally themed young adult series, the Ava of the Gaia series.


Demola Okeowo, PhD Candidate

The Nansen Initiative and the Development of an International Protection Norm for Cross-Border Disaster-Displaced Persons

Demola Okeowo is a PhD candidate at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (UBC). My doctoral research focuses on the development of a legal norm for the protection of cross-border disaster-displaced persons. Using the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement (the “Nansen Initiative”) as a case study, my dissertation applies a synthesis of the theories of international norm development to the decades of international efforts for the recognition and protection of cross-border disaster-displaced persons leading to the establishment of the Nansen Initiative in 2012. The dissertation examines the range of guideposts in the international norms literature for identifying a successful new norm. Relying on judicial precedents and some notable literature on international norms, the dissertation argues that there are diverse forms of contemporary international law. Thus, the dissertation concludes that the Protection Agenda, which is the final product of the work of the Nansen Initiative, is a soft law instrument and hence normative. The dissertation further examines international norm compliance theories as they might relate to states’ disposition towards the Protection Agenda. Based on the endorsement of the Protection Agenda by 109 states in Geneva in 2015, the calibre of states that made the endorsement, and the enthusiasm with which they did so, the dissertation argues that states are likely to implement it. This is so, given that the establishment of the Platform on Disaster Displacement as a post-Nansen Initiative process for the Agenda’s dissemination, interpretation and implementation purposes is a core requirement in the literature for achieving international norm compliance. Demola’s research supervisor is Dean Catherine Dauvergne.


Temitope Onifade, PhD Student

Temitope Onifade is a PhD student at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (UBC). He is completing his doctoral research on how law and society regulate low carbon economies. His supervisor is Dr. Stepan Wood. Temi's research builds on his training and experience. He is trained in law and environmental policy, and has worked as a lawyer, a law lecturer, and a policy analyst. He has outputs such as scholarly publications, policy materials and corporate documents. His sole-authored publications have appeared in Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law, Energy Policy, Human Rights Review, Global Journal of Comparative Law, Renewable Energy Law and Policy Review and International Legal Research Informer, among others, and he has co-authored publications. He has prepared policy materials and/or corporate documents for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and Biofuel Development Farmers’ Association in Nigeria, among others. He currently serves as a Director, Holistic Sustainable Development Network, and as an Advisory Board Member for Editorial Projects on an International Bar Association committee. He is a recipient of the International Doctoral Fellowship of the University of British Columbia, Scholarship for Energy and Natural Resource Law Studies of the International Bar Association and Sabin Colloquium on Innovative Environmental Law Scholarship at Columbia University, among several other awards. ​


Stefan Pauer, PhD Candidate

Stefan Pauer is a PhD candidate at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (UBC). He is climate policy professional with several years of experience in policy analysis and development. In his research, he seeks to understand the conditions under which governments choose to adopt or not to adopt border tax adjustments (also known as carbon tariffs) to support domestic climate policies. His interdisciplinary research draws on political science and economics as well as law, with a strong focus on producing research that is useful for practitioners involved in policy-making. Prior to commencing his doctoral studies, Stefan worked as a Policy Officer at the European Commission on the European Union’s cap-and-trade system, which forms the cornerstone of the EU’s policy to combat climate change. Stefan has received numerous scholarships, grants, and awards. The organizations supporting his research include the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Economics and Environmental Policy Research Network, the UBC Public Scholars Initiative, and the Allard School of Law at UBC. Stefan is pursuing a non-academic career by building on his research to advance effective climate policy. Upon completion of his PhD studies, Stefan aims to continue focusing on climate policy analysis and development, possibly as part of a think tank or in government administration.

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