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Ryan Liss



Ryan Liss

Yale Law School, New Haven, CT

Masters of Law Candidate, ongoing (2012-2013)


University of Toronto – Faculty of Law, Toronto, ON

Juris Doctor (2008-2011)

• Graduated from J.D. with honours

• Honours standing in all years of J.D. Program

• Co-Editor-in-Chief, Journal of International Law and International Relations

• Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition

• Selected Awards: Macdonald Prize in Public International Law, Faculty of Law; Fasken

Martineau DuMoulin LLP Award, Faculty of Law

Fields of Study:

• International Criminal Law

• International Humanitarian Law

• Advanced Human Rights Law

• Public International Law


University of Toronto –

Faculty of Arts and Science, Toronto, ON

Honours Bachelor of Arts (2003-2007)

• Graduated with high distinction

• Dean’s List in all years of Hons. B.A.

Fields of Study:

• Major in Ethics, Society and Law

• Minors in Anthropology and Dramatic Arts


Proposed Program of Study


International criminal law (ICL) is ordinarily presumed to fulfill such functions as deterrence, rehabilitation, “truth telling”, and local transitional justice. Through my studies and experience in the field, I have observed that ICL is not, in fact, positioned to satisfactorily fulfill these roles. At most these functions provide a partial explanation for the ICL project. My LL.M. research will address the question of ICL’s purpose. While ICL may be partially animated by the various principles noted above, my experience suggests that one overarching principle best captures the purpose underlying the international criminal justice project: a concept I call global transitional justice. Traditionally, transitional justice at the local level has been viewed as a means for a community to delineate its underlying principles, and affirm its status as a moral unit. Under the framework of global transitional justice, it is the international, as opposed to the local, community that ICL enables to function as a moral agent in the wake of a breach of fundamental provisions of the international moral code. This concept also suggests an explanation for the increase in support of ICL since the early 1990s, as atrocities have become ever more visible to the international community.

Katie Sykes


Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

J.S.D. (doctoral) candidate (ongoing)

• Thesis: Eat, Trade, Judge

• Awarded: SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS; President’s Award; Law Society of Nova Scotia

Scholarship (shared); Killam Scholarship


• Ronald St. John Macdonald Young Scholars Award (shared) for paper entitled Nations Like Unto

Yourselves: Animals, Cross-cultural Values and International Law”


Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

LL.M. (October 2011)

• Thesis: The Beasts in the Jungle: Animal Welfare in International Law

• Awarded: Schulich Scholarship, Law Society of Nova Scotia Scholarship


Harvard Law School

LL.M. (June 2004)

• Frank Knox Memorial Graduate Fellowship


Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Juris Doctor, June 2002

• Awarded: Angus MacMurchy Gold Medal (first in graduating class based on cumulative grade

point average); Dean’s Key (extra-curricular and academic achievement); Class of 1967 Prize for

ranking second in third year; Goodman’s Prize in Administrative Law; Macdonald Prize in Public

International Law; Fraser Milner Casgrain Prize for academic achievement in second year; McCarthy, Tétrault Prize for academic achievement in second year; Bereskin & Parr Prize in Intellectual Property; Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP Prize in Taxation; Patricia Julia Myhal Scholarship in Legal Writing; Langford Rowell Prize; McCarthy, Tétrault Prize for academic excellence in first year; Laskin Prize in Constitutional Law; Davies, Ward & Beck Prize in

Contracts; Michael John Eccles Prize in Criminal Law; Canada Law Book Prize in Property; Carswell Prize in Torts


Queen’s University

B.A. (Hons.), June 1993

• Awarded: Marty Memorial Scholarship; Roberta McCulloch Scholarship in English; James A. Roy Memorial Scholarship in English; Gordon and Myrtle Adams Scholarship; W.B. Munro Scholarship in History; Susan Near Prize in History; Garnet Grills Award; Tricolour Entrance Scholarship


Proposed Program of Study


My thesis will analyze the international regulation of the food system. International law addresses food from three main perspectives: trade, environmental sustainability, and human rights. These themes are generally dealt with in isolation from one another - an example of the phenomenon of “fragmentation” in international law. The international trade regime has evolved into perhaps the most effective example of international governance and institution-building. Meanwhile, environmental and human rights law have attempted to deal with food system issues (including biodiversity, species and ecosystem conservation, pollution, famine, human health and safety, and the humane treatment of animals), but tend to be less effective than the trade regime. When the WTO adjudicates clashes between trade and other norms in the context of the food system, protrade values can be expected to prevail, as illustrated by WTO decisions about measures designed to protect endangered species and to limit the impact of artificial hormones and genetically modified organisms. It would be undesirable for trade norms to eclipse the other norms at play in the international regulation of the food system, because food production has such a significant environmental impact, and because the right to adequate food is a fundamental human right. I will propose the creation of an international body, the World Organization for Fair and Sustainable Agricultural Trade, that would have the institutional capacity and mandate to deal with food issues in a way that integrates trade, environmental and human rights legal principles.


Katie Sykes
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