New York, NY (September 10, 2012): The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice is pleased to welcome this year’s class of Vivian Leitner Global South LL.M. Scholars to Fordham Law school. The Scholars, lawyers from Botswana, China, and Ghana, are pursuing an LL.M. in International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, and each come to Fordham with experience and background in international human rights law.
This year’s scholars, profiled below, will work with faculty, fellows, and staff at the Leitner Center on research, writing, and scholarship in international human rights law. Kabo Godfrey Motswagole (Botswana), Weiming Wu (China), and Leondard Yao Klah (Ghana) were selected following a rigorous application process, and received a fully-funded scholarship which includes waived tuition for the LL.M. at Fordham, and may include a stipend to cover living costs for the ten months of the program.
The Vivian Leitner Scholars program is made possible through a generous donation from James Leitner (JD) and is named to honor the memory of Vivian Leitner, who passed away in 2010. An intrepid traveler, student of many cultures, and a fierce critic of injustice wherever she found it, Vivian Leitner was born in Turkey and immigrated to the US in 1950. Always grateful for the opportunities she found in the U.S. to advance her education and her work, this program in her memory seeks to create similar opportunities for others.
The program, renamed the Vivian Leitner Program in 2011, has provided scholarships and stipends to students from the global south since 2007. Profiles of our past LL.M. students may be found here, and further information about the program can be found here.
The LL.M. Scholars are fully integrated in the law school community through projects and events at the Leitner Center and Fordham Law School. Vivian Leitner Scholars share their perspectives and experiences with the Law School academic community and contribute to diversity in the Fordham student body, enriching classroom experiences.
2012-2013 Vivian Leitner Scholars
Kabo Godfrey Motswagole joins Fordham Law School from Botswana where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Botswana in 2011. Kabo worked for the University of Botswana Legal Clinic, where he provided pro bono legal advice to numerous under-privileged clients including 200 wrongfully terminated employees in one class-action lawsuit.
Previously, Kabo worked as an Associate Attorney at Monthe Marumo & Co. and Mosojane Legal Consultancy, and was also a Research Assistant for a High Court Judge, where he conducted comparative analyses of national and international legal standards. In his work as a Research Fellow at Keoagile & Associates, he provided legal analysis arguing that the death penalty should not apply in sixteen murder cases, an opinion the courts concurred with in each of these cases.
Weiming Wu joins us from China, where he has focused on advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. After graduating from Zhejiang University with a B.A. in Philosophy, Weiming went on to Fudan University, where he graduated with a Master’s degree in law. He first became involved in human rights work during his second year at Fudan, where he volunteered with local NGOs and met human rights activists. After graduation, Weiming joined a local law firm and worked on numerous high-profile cases involving LGBT rights.
Weiming also worked at a human rights NGO providing advice on an LGBT legal helpline; conducting research on foreign policies and laws; drafting policy development documents; and developing programs aimed at transforming societal norms and perceptions of the LGBT community. Weiming also co-founded The Shanghai Gender and Sexuality Cultural Center, which aims to promote the LGBT rights movement and to increase an overall awareness of the rights of the LGBT community by providing a safe, equal, and tolerant space.
Leonard Yao Klah joins us from Ghana. He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and graduated with Second Class Honors – Upper division (equivalent to high honors) in 2012.
During his time at KNUST, Leonard was the Ghanaian student team leader of the Leitner Center’s 2010 Law and Development in Africa Clinic project on religious and cultural rights in Ghana, focusing on the practice of trokosi (a system of religious atonement which has been criticized as a practice violating human rights). After participating in fieldwork gathering information about the practice, Leonard’s KNUST team planned and designed “Religion, Culture, and Human Rights in Ghana,” a workshop held in August 2011 in Accra. The workshop aimed at finding common ground with a range of stakeholders in order to eliminate the injustices and human rights violations against women which are associated with trokosi in Ghana. He was the founding co-coordinator for the KNUST Law Students for Reproductive Justice from 2011-2012. In addition, Leonard was a Fordham-Ghana Summer Law Program Assistant in 2012.