Human Rights Working Group

Throughout this term, the members of the Human Rights WG are committed to reinforce the advocacy role that characterises the EST as an organisation. Given the intersectional nature of our topic, we are willing to boost our capacity to act as the connection between all the EST WGs. We strongly believe in the importance of analysing the reality of European affairs through a human rights perspective, combining our legal and political knowledge. However, human rights are found at the crossroads of multiple topics such as reproductive health, forced mobility dynamics or institutional racism, to name a few. In this regard, we advocate for the added value of joining efforts with the rest of WGs, each of us bringing our own perspectives for a more comprehensive research. We are equally conscious about the fact that our articles and policy briefs might contain complex vocabulary and concepts, making their access more difficult to a wider audience. This is the reason why our aim is to complement our research with other materials, particularly through the creation of infographics and the participation in podcast episodes. Finally, as a way to reach a wider audience and create a deeper sense of community, we will promote the organisation of events in collaboration with other EST departments.

Leah Rea – Head of the Working Group


Leah is a scholarship PhD Researcher in constitutional law, international human rights law, and legislative studies at Ulster University, Northern Ireland. She studied a Masters in Violence, Terrorism and Security, a Masters in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, and a Law degree at Queen’s University Belfast, where she also served on a student human rights working group. Leah has experience in political, policy, and legislative monitoring and assessing state compliance with international human rights norms. She is interested in exploring constitutional human rights protections, and examining gaps between aspirational legal provisions for human rights and the practical reality of their access and enjoyment, especially minority and cultural rights. She is the facilitator of the University of Padova’s Model UPR 2023 and 2024, and was accepted to the NCAFP NI Emerging Leaders Program 2024. She is a scholarship candidate in the European Academy of Diplomacy’s Academy of Young Diplomats 2024.

Elisa Mille

Elisa is a French third-year student of International Relations at King’s College London, where she conducts her dissertation on the activities of the Wagner Group in Africa and the Middle East. She specialises in Human Rights, diplomacy, and conflict and security, wishing to obtain a leadership position allowing her to effectively promote Human Rights, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Through her work within the Working Group, she hopes to contribute making Human Rights more accessible, spreading awareness on key issues, while expanding her knowledge. She was notably previously part of a working group of the think tank Chatham House, and is now founding her own charity aiming to support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, another way she hopes to have a positive impact.

Marina Munoz Bernad

Marina, 22 years old from Spain, Barcelona. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations last year from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and is currently pursuing a Master’s program in Contemporary History. She spent her internship working in the Islamic and Arab World Department at the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED). The Middle East region, conflict resolution, and peace construction processes in the context of war are her primary subjects of interest, always including a Human Rights and Gender approach perspective.

Allison Newey

Allison is an MA candidate of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. She recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Keene State College in New Hampshire, USA with BA degrees in Holocaust & Genocide Studies and Political Science. She also studied European Politics at at Freie Universität Berlin during the spring 2022 semester, and volunteered at Berlin train stations to help incoming Ukrainian refugees. Her academic and professional interests include gender-based violence, peacebuilding, socio-political conflict, and mass atrocity prevention.

Tina Pirnovar

Tina Pirnovar holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Law (cum laude) from the University of Ljubljana. She excelled in moot court competitions during both degrees and contributed to Transparency International’s project on whistle-blower protection in Slovenia. She participated in the Srebrenica Youth Summer School focusing on Srebrenica genocide and in the Global Summer School at Nottingham-Trent University, focusing on the English legal system and international law. Her professional journey includes roles as an Associate and Legal Trainee at Wolf Theiss Attorneys at Law (Slovenian Branch), Student Researcher at the University of Copenhagen, and legal support for Transparency International. Tina’s authored legal publications spotlight her commitment to justice and human rights. Tina is currently undertaking a court traineeship at the Ljubljana Higher Court.

Ignacio Barroso Gomez

Ignacio, from Spain, recently graduated from Rey Juan Carlos University with a degree in International Relations. As part of his academic training, he furthered his studies at National Chengchi University, where he gained valuable insights into East-Asian politics and culture. His academic interests center around security, peace, and the humanitarian field, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, he is actively involved in international forums and projects, such as Asia Society Korea-Youth and the European Forum Alpbach, which has allowed him to gain experience working in multicultural teams. Moving forward, he will focus on sharing more about human rights defenders in Asia and expanding his research skills.

Lea Meinecke

Originally from Germany, Lea has completed her bachelor’s degree in law at the University of Glasgow. She is currently undertaking an Erasmus Mundus master’s in International Law, Global Security, Peace, and Development at the University of Glasgow, IBEI Barcelona and ULB Brussels. Lea’s passion for human rights stems from her voluntary work in the areas of gender equality and migration. She has been able to gain both academic and practical experiences in this field both through her studies and research as well as a moot court and an internship at the Council of Europe. Her current research focuses on environmental rights as human rights.

Sankhaja Gunathilaka

Sankhaja is a researcher and an educator originally from Sri Lanka. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Arts at the University of Peradeniya and her Master in Human Rights degree at the University of Colombo. She was an intern at the Human Rights Commission, Sri Lanka. Her master’s thesis was on rights of children and Convention on the Rights of the Child. Sankhaja wants to pursue a career in Human Rights and she currently volunteers at a charity organisation which strives to make an on-the-ground difference to those experiencing period poverty. She has obtained a diploma in Diplomacy and International Affairs and a certificate in International Relations. Her research focus is on child rights, women’s rights, feminist foreign policy and gender equality policies including gender-based violence and reproductive rights issues. Sankhaja is a member of the National Council of Women Victoria, UN Women Australia and UNAA Academic Network.