Human rights leader
Iryna Ivankiv, PhD (LLM ‘15), is a human rights officer for the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, part of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. A seasoned scholar and researcher on human rights issues, Ivankiv worked until recently as a national project officer and national rule of law advisor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. OSCE focuses on arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections.
“PROLAW was my first experience working with people from different geographical areas. … The Loyola experience has made my work much better.”
Ivankiv heard about PROLAW while working against child trafficking and cybercrime as part of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Ukraine.
“PROLAW was my first experience working with people from different geographical areas, and I hadn’t realized how important it would be to be part of an international group and study with lawyers from around the world,” she says. For a decade, Ivankiv’s scholarship has focused partly on environmental and sustainable development aspects of human rights. As a PROLAW student, “I realized my approach was quite Eurocentric and western-centric,” she says. “I changed my approach and introduced the Asian and African angles. The Loyola experience has made my work much better.”
Ivankiv continues, “The concepts I’d learned earlier as a law student were vague, faraway, and theoretical, but PROLAW was practical and hands on.” Completing the program, she says, was key to landing her position with OSCE. Her achievements there included creating a coalition for reforming the entrance exam for Ukrainian LLM programs—previously a corrupt process based on influence rather than merit—and helping to introduce a human rights angle to summer lectures in criminal law given by visiting senior law professors for junior law faculty at various universities.
In her current role with the UN, Ivankiv helps identify, report, analyze, advise, and build partnerships addressing existing and emerging human rights violations related to the ongoing conflict. “We’re monitoring and following up in several strategic areas, including specific crimes like terrorism and high treason,” she says. “We also handle more topical issues, like mandatory vaccinations for educators.” Ivankiv also continues as a part-time senior lecturer at Ukraine’s National University.
As the rule of law gains ground in Ukraine, the community of scholars, legal practitioners, and others focused on reform remains tightly knit. “Almost every year, we recommend a student or two or three for PROLAW,” says Ivankiv, who recommended Shyroka for the program after meeting her at an event focused on access to justice.
Fortunately for these Ukrainian champions of the rule of law—and for the other PROLAW students who benefit from their rich experience and insights—“the program administration usually says yes and admits the students we’ve recommended.” –Gail Mansfield (February 2022)