Katie Cohen ’21 awarded Helton Fellowship for international pro bono legal service

Katie Cohen ’21 has been awarded a prestigious Helton Fellowship to work at Global Rights Compliance, an international organization that provides advisory services and litigation support in human rights and international humanitarian law, this summer.

Cohen is one of five Helton Fellows named this spring. The American Society of International Law established the Helton Fellowship Program in 2004 to recognize the legacy of prominent human rights advocate and ASIL member Arthur C. Helton, who died in the Aug. 19, 2003, bombing of the United Nations mission in Baghdad, Iraq.  The fellowships help defray the living expenses of law students or recent law graduates who do unpaid international legal work focusing on human rights.

“Katie has earned this prestigious award through her poise and professionalism and will perform superbly,” said Professor Michael A. Newton, who is an expert in international criminal and human rights law. “Arthur Helton would no doubt be impressed with her excellence as a student and as a person.”

Cohen is the Raymonde I. Paul Scholar in International Legal Studies for the Class of 2021. A native of Seattle, Washington, Cohen earned her undergraduate degree in linguistics at Dartmouth College and then served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine before starting law school at Vanderbilt.

Cohen says her Peace Corps experience working with students and teachers in Ukraine cemented her desire to practice international law. The Helton Fellowship will allow her to work at Global Rights Compliance, an international legal organization based in The Hague, Netherlands, on a project that aims to increase international legal prevention and accountability for crimes of forced mass starvation.  “The project is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is aimed at preventing governments such as Myanmar’s from using mass starvation to commit genocide,” she said.

Cohen will participate in the law school’s Vanderbilt in Venice summer study-abroad program, which offers courses on topics in international law, before starting work at GRC. She plans to spend the fall 2019 semester as a legal intern with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, U.S. Department of State, in New York.

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