SOAS University of London

Workshop Participants

Andrew Hickman

Andrew Hickman works for Down to Earth, the international campaign for ecological justice in Indonesia.  He researches and campaigns on extractive issues in Indonesia, in particular focusing on the coal mining and gas sectors.  Recently, this work has involved looking at companies such as BHP Billiton, BP and Bumi plc., as well as the wider links between UK investment and climate justice issues in Indonesia.  Down to Earth' recently wrote an open letter to the President of Indonesia and the UK prime minister in their roles as co-chairs of the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development agenda, calling for real action to implement the Indonesian Constitutional Court decision on land rights for indigenous peoples.

Birsha Ohdedar

Birsha Ohdedar is a member of SOAS LEDC.  He holds bachelors degrees in Law and Political Studies from the University of Auckland, New Zealand and a Masters degree in Environmental Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He has worked previously as a solicitor at a major law firm and at a community legal centre in Auckland, New Zealand. He has also previously interned with the Alternative Law Forum and EQUATIONS in Bangalore. His research interests include water, sanitation, human rights and the environment, and climate change.

Carl Cesar Rebuta

Carl Cesar Rebuta is currently a consultant at Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc.- Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE- Phils.) for Mindanao partner Communities. For more than a decade, Carl has been helping set up community paralegal teams in Mindanao, Southern Philippines and afterwards at LRC-KsK’s Cagayan de Oro Regional Office. He is helping various groups and people’s organizations in providing policy updates, trends, capacity buildings, briefings on Environmental laws, Land and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

Fexil Padel

Felix Padel is a professor of sociology/anthropology in India, and author of several seminal books on tribal, mining and environmental issues - Sacrificing People: Invasions of a Tribal Landscape(1995/2010), Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel (with Samarendra Das 2010), Ecology, Economy: Quest for a Socially Informed Connection (with Ajay Dandekar and Jeemol Unni). He was Professor of Rural Management at the Institute of Health Management Research October 2012-January 2014; and Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, Visva Bharati university, Shantiniketan, West Bengal during March 2014. He was a key speaker at a National Seminar on SIAs entitled  Assessing Social Impacts of Proposed Development Interventions: Focus on Projects Involving Resettlement held by The Council for Social Development and the Indian Council for Social Science Research in the India International Centre, Delhi, in May 2013.

Garcek Romero Varques

Graciela is the International Programmes Director at War on Want. Graciela has worked on issues of international development, food sovereignty, conflict over resources, workers’ rights, popular education and indigenous knowledge. For about 20 years, Graciela has been involved on social justice issues in her native country Colombia, in the UK, and internationally. She serves on steering committees of the London Mining Network and the UK Food Group. She is actively involved in social movements challenging power imbalances and empowering communities to be involved in decision-making process that affect them.

Irina Velicu

Irina Velicu is a Marie Curie post-doctoral researcher working on socio-environmental conflicts in post-communist countries at the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii (USA) and an MA in International Studies from the University of Warwick (UK). Her research interests revolve around the topics of globalization, social transformation and political ecology. Her recent publications Her recent publications can be found in Globalizations, Studies in Social Justice and New Political Science.

Jake White

Environmental lawyer at Friends of the Earth. Jake has worked for Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Energy & Climate Change, designing a legislative structure to ensure waste and clean-up are paid for by operators. At FoE he works on climate and energy, in particular fracking which has involved working closely with local communities.

Murat Arsel

Associate Professor of Environment and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. His current research projects concern the nationalisation of extractive industries in Latin America and the political economy of energy in Turkey. He is one of the editors of the interdisciplinary development studies journal Development & Change. During the Spring 2014 term, he’s the Keyman Visiting Professor of Modern Turkish Studies at Northwestern University.

Patricia Feeney

Patricia Feeney is the Executive Director of Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID).  RAID is a non-governmental organisation, that promotes respect for human rights and responsible conduct by companies around the world.  RAID is a long-standing contributor to the debate on corporate conduct during and after the devastating war in DRC. Its publications on DRC include Unanswered Questions: Companies, Conflict and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2004); Kilwa: A Denial of Justice (2007); Economic Aspects of Key Mining Contracts in Katanga (2007); Chinese Mining Companies in Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo (2009). All available at <>.

Philippe Cullet

Professor of International and Environmental Law at SOAS. He holds an LLM from King’s College, an MA in Development Studies from SOAS, and a JSD from Stanford University. He is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi and the convenor of the International Environmental Law Research Centre (IELRC). Professor Cullet’s main areas of interest include environmental law, natural resources, human rights and the socio-economic aspects of intellectual property. He works on these at the international level and in India. His current research includes work on water law and governance with a particular focus on groundwater, drinking water, sanitation and institutional reforms in India; equity in environmental law; biodiversity, including benefit sharing and biosafety; and justice, with a particular focus on environmental and water rights.

Richard Meeran

Partner at human rights law firm Leigh Day since 1991.  Richard successfully pioneered  claims against multinationals, Cape PLC for 7,500 South African asbestos victims, Thor Chemicals for South African workers poisoned by mercury, Monterrico Metals Plc for indigenous Peruvian torture victims and Anglo American South Africa for gold miners with silicosis. In 2002 he was the Liberty/Justice Human Rights Lawyer of the Year.

Richard Solly

Richard Solly is the coordinator of the London Mining Network, an alliance of human rights, development, environmental and solidarity groups.  Richard started working with Indigenous Peoples in the USA in 1983. In 1989 he began working on resource extraction issues and Native land rights in Alberta in Canada. In 1991 he became part of the London-based Minewatch Collective, which eventually gave rise to the Mines and Communities network in 2001. Its purpose was to share information on mining companies with the communities affected by their operations. In 2000 Richard visited communities affected by the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia, in which London-listed companies are involved, and since then he has worked with Colombia Solidarity Campaign (one of the member groups of London Mining Network) to offer support to those communities. In 2006 Richard was involved with a number of London-based groups which came together to seek ways of increasing pressure on London-funded mining companies to improve their conduct around the world, and decided to establish London Mining Network, which was launched in April 2007.

Salil Tripathi

Salil has long standing experience in advancing the business and human rights agenda. As a researcher at Amnesty International (1999 2005) he participated in negotiations that created the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and represented Amnesty in the Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights process from its inception until 2008. As senior policy adviser at International Alert (2006-2008) he played a key role in the process that developed the Red Flags initiative. He sits on the external advisory corporate citizenship panels of GE and Exxon.

Seema Joshi

Seema Joshi has over 15 years of professional experience working with areas including international and national law, natural resources, conflict and human rights.  Currently, she is the Head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International. Before joining Amnesty International, she worked as Legal Advisor at the London-based NGO, Global Witness, for a number of years on corporate accountability and conflict zone related issues.  Prior to this, Seema worked for the UN Development Programme in Thailand, where she managed an environmental governance initiative for Asia Pacific that sought to improve access rights for the poor.  Seema also worked as a civil litigation lawyer in Canada for a number of years.  Seema holds a Master's in International Law from the London School of Economics.  She also holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from a Canadian university.  In 1999, she was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor to the Law Society of Alberta, Canada.

Shankar Gopalkrishnan

Shankar Gopalakrishnan is affiliated to the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a platform of  Indigenous peoples' and forest dwellers’ organisations from eleven States working on issues of rights over natural resources.  He is also an activist of the Uttarakhand Nav Nirman Mazdoor Sangh, a new union of unorganised sector workers in Uttarakhand, India.  He has also done research and written on issues around development policy, resource politics, political economy, social movements, labour issues and so on.

Sue Willman

Sue Willman is a partner at Deighton Pierce Gylnn.  Sue has a broad spectrum of public and human rights law expertise, including public law environmental challenges. Sue is currently focussing on linking her human rights and environmental expertise to extend the firm’s work on tackling international human rights violations.
Sue is a founding Director of the Colombia Caravana campaign group which  supports lawyers in Colombia who face serious human rights violations. In 2012 she participated in an investigation of corporate impacts in Colombia for the Alliance of Lawyers at Risk, highlighting the impact of Cerrejon open cast coal mine on indigenous communities. She is currently advising on cases relation to environmental and human rights claims linked to the activities of oil and coal companies in Colombia. Sue works closely with the Environmental Law Foundation and is active in Wild Law UK which advocates for a move away from ‘human-based’ environmental law and policy, towards legal systems which recognise the rights of nature.

Sujith Koonan

Sujith Koonan is a doctoral candidate in the School of Law at SOAS. He worked at Amity Law School, Noida where he taught Environmental Law and Public International Law. He also worked as a Law Researcher with Environmental Law Research Society (ELRS), New Delhi where he coordinated a three-year project (2009-12) on water law reforms in India. He is an Associate Editor of the Law, Environment and Development Journal (LEAD) – a joint publication of School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and International Environmental Law Research Centre, Geneva. He holds an MPhil (International Law) from Centre for International Legal Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and an LLM (Environmental Law and Human Rights) from Cochin University of Science and Technology, Cochin. His work on water laws led him to be invited to be a member of the Working Group on Water Governance constituted by the Planning Commission of India (Government of India) for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).

Mr Koonan’s main areas of interest include environmental law, natural resources and human rights. His recent research has been mainly on law and policy framework relating to water and sanitation and he has published his research in various reputed national and international publications. His publications include Water Law in India – An Introduction to Legal Instruments (Co-editor) (2011) and Delhi Water Supply Reforms: Public Private Partnerships or Privatisation? (2012).  His publications can be accessed at

Usha Ramanathan

Dr Ramanathan is an internationally recognized expert on law and poverty. She studied law at Madras University, the University of Nagpur and Delhi University. She is currently a Member of the Government of India’s High Level Committee on the socio-economic, health and educational status of the tribal communities of India. She is a frequent adviser to non-governmental organisations and international organizations. She is for instance a member of Amnesty International's Advisory Panel on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and has been called upon by the World Health Organisation as a expert on mental health on various occasions. Dr Ramanathan is also the South Asia Editor of the Law, Environment and Development Journal (LEAD Journal), a peer-reviewed academic journal jointly published by SOAS and IELRC. Her research interests include human rights, displacement, torts and environment. She has published extensively in India and abroad. In particular, she has devoted her attention to a number of specific issues such as the Bhopal gas disaster, the Narmada valley dams or slum eviction in Delhi.