Habitat for Human Rights: Environmental Degradation and Human Rights

The 15th Vermont Law Review Annual Symposium



Keynote Speaker

Marcos Orellana

Marcos A. Orellana is Senior Attorney and Director of CIEL’s Human Rights and Environment Program.

Prior to joining CIEL, Dr. Orellana was a Fellow to the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law of the University of Cambridge, UK. He also was a visiting scholar with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC. Previously, Dr. Orellana was Instructor Professor of international law at the Universidad de Talca, Chile and a consultant to various international governmental and non-governmental organizations. He also has provided legal counsel to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on international environmental issues, and in that capacity has joined official delegations to meetings of select MEAs.

In 1997-1998, Dr. Orellana completed the LL.M. program at American University Washington College of Law (WCL), during which time he also was an intern at the World Bank’s Inspection Panel. In 2009 Dr. Orellana obtained his S.J.D. doctoral degree from WCL upon successful defense of a thesis entitled: Health, Safety and Environmental Measures in International Economic Law. Since 2002, Dr. Orellana has offered various courses at WCL, including: the International Law of the Sea; International Trade and the Environment; and Investment Arbitration & International Human Rights Law.

Panel 1: Climate Change and Human Rights

Alyssa Johl

Ms. Johl’s practice focuses on human rights and climate change, working to protect the rights of those most vulnerable to climate impacts and to develop new legal strategies to accelerate action on climate change. As coordinator of the Human Rights & Climate Change Working Group, Alyssa advocates for human rights protections in the UNFCCC and other relevant forums. Alyssa also serves on the Steering Committee of Many Strong Voices, a network of individuals and communities in the Arctic and SIDS taking strategic action on climate mitigation and adaptation. Prior to joining CIEL in November 2010, Alyssa was Staff Attorney at the Climate Law and Policy Project, where she advocated for stronger emission reduction targets, adaptation assistance, and inclusion in policy processes at all levels of governments. Alyssa received her JD, as well as a certification of completion in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, from the University of Oregon School of Law. She also holds a BA in Development Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

Tracy Bach

Tracy Bach is a Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School (VLS) who teaches and publishes on climate change, health care and environmental health law, international human rights, and legal method and pedagogy. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. and M.A in public affairs from the University of Minnesota, after which she clerked for the Honorable Harriet Lansing of the Minnesota Court of Appeals. She has consulted for the Dartmouth Center for Environmental Health Sciences; graduated from the Vermont Leadership Institute; and visited at the law faculties of the National University of Rwanda, Petrozavodsk State University (Karelia, Russia), the University of Paris 13, Cheikh Anta Diop University (Dakar, Senegal), and Qatar University College of Law (QUCL). In 2007, Bach became Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Climate Legacy Initiative, a grant-funded project that published Recalibrating the Law of Humans with the Laws of Nature: Climate Change, Human Rights, and Intergenerational Justice in 2009. Since then, she has become a Fellow of the US-Asia Partnerships in Environmental Law at VLS and a Senior Fellow of the Center for Energy and Sustainability Law at QUCL. In 2009-10, Bach was a Fulbright Scholar in Dakar, Senegal. Her blog about climate change and life in West Africa is at She also blogs on environmental health law at Professor Bach currently serves as Head of Delegation for the VLS COP21/CMP11 Observer Delegation and teaches an international climate change law course to students serving on this delegation. Their blog about international climate change law and policy is at

Marilyn Averill

Marilyn Averill is a senior fellow with the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School, and is affiliated with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at CU. She is chair of the steering committee for the Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGOs), one of the nine civil society constituencies to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat.

Marilyn previously served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior, where her primary clients were the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. Her research interests focus on international environmental governance, the politics of science, and the ethical implications of environmental issues, primarily in the context of global climate change. She is particularly interested in the role of courts in shaping public policy in response to complex and controversial environmental problems.

Marilyn holds a J.D. and an M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, an M.P.A from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a B.A. from Wellesley College.

Panel 2: Environmental Issues of Human Concern: Assessing Environmental Degradation and Human Rights Abuse

Randall Abate

Professor Abate teaches courses in environmental law, international and comparative law, and constitutional law. Professor Abate joined the FAMU College of Law faculty in 2009 with fifteen years of  full-time law teaching experience at Vermont Law School, Widener University School of Law–Harrisburg, Rutgers School of Law–Camden, Florida Coastal School of Law, and Florida State University College of Law. He also has taught International Environmental Law in summer abroad programs at the University of Nairobi Law School, the University of British Columbia Law School, and in Shimla, India, and International Ocean Law and Select Topics in U.S. / Caribbean Environmental Law in a winter intersession program at the Cayman Islands Law School. He has published widely on environmental law topics, with a recent emphasis on climate change law and policy.

Mark Squillace

Professor Mark Squillace joined the faculty at the University of Colorado Law School in 2005 where he served as the Director of the Natural Resources Law Center until 2013. Before joining the Colorado law faculty, Professor Squillace taught at the University of Toledo College of Law where he was named the Charles Fornoff Professor of Law and Values. Professor Squillace has also taught at the University of Wyoming College of Law, and at Wyoming he served a three-year term as the Winston S. Howard Professor of Law. He is a former Fulbright scholar and the author or co-author of numerous articles and books on natural resources and environmental law. In 2000, Professor Squillace took a leave from law teaching to serve as Special Assistant to the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior. In that capacity he worked directly with the Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, on a wide range of legal and policy issues.

Judith Kimerling

After graduating from University of Michigan and Yale Law School, she worked for seven years as an environmental litigator, including five years as an Assistant Attorney General for New York State, where she worked on the Love Canal litigation and other hazardous waste cleanup litigation and negotiations. In 1989, she moved to Ecuador and worked with indigenous organizations in the Amazon Rainforest to document the environmental and social impacts of oil development there. Her findings and photographs first placed concerns about the impact of oil production on indigenous peoples and the environment in tropical forests on the international environmental and human rights policy agendas. Her book Amazon Crude was called “the Silent Spring of Ecuador” by The New York Times. In the U.S., it prompted a historic class action lawsuit, Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc., which led to related proceedings in Ecuador and other fora that raise many issues of importance to legal scholars and practitioners around the world.

Professor Kimerling currently serves as international counsel for Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (Ome Yasuni), an alliance of indigenous Huaorani (Waorani) communities who came together to protect a 758,051-hectare area of rainforest known as “The Intangible Zone.” Located in ancestral Huaorani territory and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, The Intangible Zone is also home to the last known group of people still living in voluntary isolation in Ecuador’s Amazon region.  Professor Kimerling also serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of REDOIL, a network of Alaska Natives who work to promote sustainable development.

Adebola Ogunba

Ms. Ogunba was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship by the United  States Government in March 2008. As part of the terms of the award, she visited at Duke University Law School in the 2008/2009 academic session. Whilst in the United States, she was also awarded a scholarship by McGeorge School of Law at University of the Pacific, CA, U.S. Adebola is researching and writing on water quality and waste management, with special focus on groundwater, for her Doctoral Degree in Environmental Law. Adebola is a French and English speaking Lawyer. She obtained a Bachelors Degree in Laws from the University of Ife, Nigeria, in 1987 and qualified as a Legal Practitioner the following year at the Nigerian Law School. She worked in the Industry for several years, as Legal Adviser to a Group of companies, amongst other functions, with sterling achievements. In 2004, she obtained a Masters Degree in International Laws from the University of Ibadan, and thereafter decided to pursue a career in academics by securing a place as Lecturer at Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria. She is now a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

Panel 3: A Voice for the Voiceless: Advocacy in Human Rights and Environmental Law

Sean Powers

Sean graduated from NYU School of Law in May 2012. During law school, he was a member of the NYU Law Students for Human Rights where, among other things, he advocated before the Unite States Department of State on behalf of Iraqi citizens living in Camp Ashraf with respect to the United States’ Geneva Convention obligations. He also interned in the Civil Division of the Office for the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he assisted with consumer fraud and civil rights litigation. After graduation, Sean worked in private practice before volunteering on the Chevron Corp. v. Donziger trial held in the Southern District of New York in 2013. After the trial ended, Sean assisted ERI as a cooperating attorney in our Southeast Asia office and now continues as a Bertha Foundation Fellow our DC office. Sean is currently admitted to practice law in New York.

Leonardo Crippa

Leonardo A. Crippa is an international law scholar and practitioner with substantial legal experience.  He has received his J.D. and Civil-law Notary degrees from Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina in 2001; as well as a LL.M degree from American University in 2008. In Argentina, Crippa was the Founder and President of the Jujuy Bar Association’s Human Rights Commission, and the Legal Counsel of the Jujuy Council of Indigenous Grass-roots Organizations. In Costa Rica, he worked for the Center for Justice and International Law as the head of the Guatemala and Panama docket for human rights litigation in the Inter-American Human Rights System. In 2005, Crippa joined the Indian Law Resource Center. Currently, he leads the Center’s Programs on Multilateral Development Banks and Litigation before the Inter-American Human Rights System. Crippa has published extensively and received several human rights awards and honors.

Stephanie Farrior

Stephanie Farrior is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Applied Human Rights at Vermont Law School. The former Legal Director of Amnesty International, she led the organization’s work at the United Nations and other intergovernmental fora, and served as principal advisor on international law. She has conducted human rights visits to India, Malawi, Pakistan and Yemen, and has participated in policy-making conferences on international human rights in Cape Town, Geneva, Ljubljana, London, Oslo, Paris and Yokohama. She co-founded the Amnesty International Lawyers Network, and helped establish the Center for Justice and Accountability, which assists torture survivors in holding the perpetrators accountable. Professor Farrior’s work has been published in Oxford, Harvard, Columbia and Berkeley law journals, and has been cited by UN experts in their studies and reports to the United Nations.  Her current research focuses on challenges faced by environmental human rights defenders, one of several issues in the area of human rights and the environment she examined during her recent sabbatical leave as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford. Born in Bangkok, Farrior grew up there and in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Washington DC; she has also lived in Athens, Avignon and London. She holds a JD from The American University, Washington College of Law, and an LLM from Harvard Law School.

Jessica Scott

Jessica Scott is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Vermont Law School where she currently teaches Air Pollution Law and International Environmental Law.  Previously, she was an attorney at the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel. There she provided legal advice under the Clean Air Act and many of the numerous federal statutes, Executive Orders, and policies that affect all of EPA’s programs, including environmental justice, federal Indian law, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Jessica also counseled on international environmental law. In November and December of 2011, Jessica participated in the National Committee on US-China Relations’ Environmental Law Professionals Exchange and served as a Fellow at the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative in Beijing. She is a recipient of the U.S. EPA’s 2012 Trudy Speciner National Honor Award, the American Bar Association’s 2013 Distinguished Environmental Advocates Award, a U.S. EPA Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, and a U.S. EPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service.  She has a B.S. cum laude from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and a J.D. magna cum laude from Vermont Law School.