A Chayes Fellow checks in: Kit Lea Cheang ‘23

Kit Lea Chang '23

Kit Lea Cheang ’23 is working remotely this summer from her home in Singapore

I am spending this summer as a 2021 Chayes International Public Service Fellow, working at the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) office of TRIAL International, an NGO headquartered in Geneva that fights impunity for international crimes and supports victims in their quest for justice. TRIAL International’s office in BiH promotes transitional justice in BiH by improving access to justice and redress for survivors of grave crimes, including sexual violence survivors, families of missing persons, and former camp detainees.

So far, I have been working on a comparative legal research project on how states have issued public apologies to victims of war crimes, systemic discrimination, violence, and other acts of wrongdoing. This will contribute to TRIAL International’s overall advocacy and strategic litigation efforts to implement the UN Committee Against Torture’s landmark 2019 decision condemning Bosnian authorities for their failure to fulfil obligations towards a sexual violence survivor.

Learning from the TRIAL International BiH team’s work with survivors of sexual violence has brought the knowledge I gained from taking Public International Law in my 1L spring semester to life. I have gotten a glimpse into how complex the work of transitional justice can be. Although the Bosnian War ended more than 25 years ago, the work of seeking reparations and redress for sexual violence survivors from the war is far from complete (according to United Nations estimates, there are between 20,000 and 50,000 survivors of rape, which was used as a tool of genocide, from the war). I have also seen how a combination of resilience, heartfelt dedication, sensitivity to survivors’ needs and perspectives, and willingness to work empathetically with all relevant parties including prosecutors’ offices, courts, and the government has allowed the TRIAL team to achieve incremental steps of progress for survivors. For instance, for the first time, a survivor of wartime rape received compensation from her perpetrator in March 2020. TRIAL International continues to work on improving the practice of awarding compensation and other reparations to survivors.

It has also been refreshing to work with an NGO in the field of human rights for the first time, and to learn from how an NGO mobilizes for a cause they believe deeply in. Before law school, I worked with Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on issues of international security and nuclear weapons. It has been fascinating to examine and reflect on international law and international relations from the human rights angle, and to grapple with how international and domestic institutions both enable and obstruct the pursuit of justice for survivors of human rights violations.

Meet the 2021-2022 ILS Post-Graduate Fellow

Isabella Victoria Ariza Buitrago LL.M. ’20 has been awarded the inaugural 2021-2022 International Legal Studies Post-Graduate Fellowship, designed to support graduating HLS students or recent graduates who will be clerking or interning at an international or foreign regional/supranational court or tribunal. Ariza Buitrago, a Colombian attorney, will undertake a 12-month clerkship with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a regional tribunal whose objective is to interpret and apply the American Convention on Human Rights. Her work will include collaborating in the drafting of resolutions and the preparation of materials necessary for the public and private hearings held to monitor compliance with judgments by the Court.

Ariza Buitrago earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of the Andes. She volunteered with Teach for Colombia, helping to encourage university students to consider teaching for two years in public schools in Colombia’s poorest regions. After her LL.B., she taught English and literature for two years, and co-organized Youth says YES! (Jóvenes por el SÍ), a social movement that conducted discussions about Colombia’s peace treaty with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a former guerrilla group involved in the Colombian conflict. Later, as a litigator in a Bogotá-based law firm, she prepared memoranda and assisted in drafting lawsuits for civil litigation. Since graduating from HLS, she has served as an HLS Public Service Venture Fund Fellow, working with the Corporate Accountability Lab. Among other contributions, Ariza Buitrago helped organized the NGO’s Corporate Liability & Sustainable Peace Lab, a social lab that unites 40 participants from different transitional justice contexts and aims to answer the question of how to hold companies accountable after they have financed and benefited from armed conflict.

Information about the 2022-2023 International Legal Studies Post-Graduate Fellowships will be posted here soon.

Meet the 2021 Chayes Fellows

Nine Harvard Law School students have been awarded 2021 Chayes International Public Service Fellowships for work with organizations based in nine countries.

Anoush Baghdassarian
Center for Truth and Justice

Kit Lea Cheang
TRIAL International

Adil Habib
Digital Freedom Fund

Andrew Hong
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

Reem Hussein

Apsara Iyer

Joan Josiah
Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa

Jonathan Lu
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Rebecca Murphy
International IDEA

Visit our Chayes Fellowship web pages to read biographies submitted by the students.


The Chayes International Public Service Fellowship celebrates its first 20 years

Every summer since 2001, Chayes International Public Service Fellows have worked with international organizations, governments, and NGOs around the world on issues of an international scope or relevant to countries in transition. Over these first two decades, Chayes Fellows have engaged in projects that explore an impressive range of subjects and encompass many different facets of legal work.

Read more about the Fellowship, view a photo gallery, and read reflections from Chayes Fellows at “The Chayes International Public Service Fellowship celebrates its first 20 years” on Harvard Law Today.

Examining international, comparative, and foreign law

The 2021 Cravath International Fellows, clockwise from top left: Leslie Liu ’21,
Sean Quirk JD/MPP ’21, Kiah Duggins ’21, Amre Metwally ’22, Brooke Davies ’21,
Andie Forsee ’21, and Mira Naseer ’22.

In many different ways, even during a pandemic, Harvard Law School students continue to engage with international, comparative, and foreign law. Seven HLS students were recently named Cravath International Fellows in recognition of the significant, internationally-focused independent clinical or research/writing projects they undertook during Winter Term in January.

The Cravath International Fellowships were created in 2007 by a group of partners and HLS alumni at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, led by Sam Butler ’54 and the late Robert Joffe ’67.

Learn more about their work on Harvard Law Today, and read Mira Naseer’s post on the HLS Clinical and Pro Bono Programs blog.