As the daughter of Kurdish migrants who were uprooted from their home after the 1979 Iranian revolution, Roojin Habibi was naturally drawn to the study and practice of human rights law. It was only later that the accomplished doctoral researcher at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University decided to dedicate herself to the pursuit of global health justice.
Her work will be significantly advanced with the May 27 announcement that she has been selected as a 2022-2025 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar. She is one of 13 successful applicants chosen from among 500 applicants.
“I am honoured, grateful and humbled,” she said. “This award represents much more than a scholarship to me. I’m thrilled to be joining a community of scholars, mentors, fellows and alumni who contribute individually to a plurality of perspectives, while working together to collectively challenge siloed thinking and disciplinary boundaries.”
Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Mary Condon celebrated the news and congratulated Roojin on behalf of the entire Osgoode community.
“We are pleased that the Trudeau Foundation has recognized the global significance of Roojin’s work and its transformational potential,” she said. “We wish her every success in the completion of her project.”
Habibi’s PhD dissertation on human rights principles for global health emergencies is helping to inform ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on a pandemic treaty, said her PhD adviser, Professor Steven Hoffman, the Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance & Legal Epidemiology and director of the Global Strategy Lab at York University.
“Roojin is incredibly talented and already making important contributions to the field of global health law,” he said. “As a former Trudeau Scholar myself, I’m excited for how this scholarship will help elevate her already exceptional impacts to new heights!”
Established in 2001 as a memorial to former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Montreal-based foundation’s three-year program is geared to developing engaged, future leaders by exposing scholars to curriculum taught by foundation fellows and mentors in settings outside traditional universities. It works to advance thinking in four areas: human rights and dignity, responsible citizenship, Canada and the world, and people and their natural environment.
“By working alongside others who have a diversity of perspectives and come from different backgrounds,” states the foundation’s website, “scholars learn leadership by stepping outside their comfort zone.”
Scholars participating in the foundation’s Engaged Leadership Curriculum receive up to $40,000 a year for tuition and reasonable living expenses to support their doctoral studies. The program also includes up to $20,000 a year for language instruction, travel and accommodations related to their doctoral research and the foundation’s leadership program.
Habibi’s research explores the value of deliberative dialogue in charting international law’s development towards more equitable, sustainable and effective responses to global health emergencies, such as pandemics and climate change.
She said her work closely aligns with the foundation’s emphasis on creative modes of collaboration and knowledge generation both within and beyond academia.
“I look forward to the foundation’s Engaged Leadership Curriculum,” she said, “and my leadership journey with fellow foundation scholars, fellows and mentors.
“I hope the experience will help elevate the public benefit and intellectual contribution of my research in a way that is both sustainable and impactful and invites others to join in the knowledge-generating process,” she added.
Habibi is lead research co-ordinator for the Global Health Law Consortium and is a fellow of the Global Strategy Lab. She is also a fellow of the Canadian International Council.
After completing her bilingual undergraduate degree in environmental and health studies at York University’s Glendon Campus in 2012, she went on to earn a master of science degree in global health from McMaster University in 2015. She also holds a JD in French common law from the University of Ottawa, a certificate in transnational law from the University of Geneva, and is a member of the Ontario Bar.
In her spare time, Roojin fosters rescue dogs and helps promote obstetric justice in Canada as a founding board member of the Birth Rights Bar Association. She speaks fluent English, French and Farsi.