Shimelis Kene

Shimelis Kene

Academic Degrees:

LL.B (Addis Ababa University), LL.M (Hons.) (Northwestern University), Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) (McGill University)

Phone: 519 661-2111 ext. 88598
Office: LB 100B

Shimelis Kene holds a Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) from McGill University, where he studied as an O’Brien Fellow; an LL.M from Northwestern University, where he was a recipient of Fellowship for International Legal Studies awarded by Northwestern Center for International Human Rights, and an LL.B from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia).

Prior to joining Western, Shimelis was a Visiting Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

Shimelis regularly speaks at local and international conferences on topics related to his areas of research. More recently, he spoke at a conference jointly organized by Northwestern University Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, Harvard University Center for Human Rights, and Addis Ababa University that explored a potentially viable future social contract for Ethiopia.

His ongoing research uses a sociolegal approach to examine the role of international law in the North-South encounter. His areas of research interests include, public international law, international human rights, international criminal law, Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), law and society, and postcolonial theory.

Previously, Shimelis worked for, among others, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court, and the Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia.

Research Highlights


Shimelis is currently working on a monograph tentatively titled Third World Agency in Postcolonial Conditions: Africa’s War on Terror in International Law. This monograph employs a socio-legal approach to examine the role that international law played in constituting the post 9/11 international security agenda while arguing for a more nuanced approach to international legal theorization that adequately captures the nuances involved in the North-South encounter.


“Self-Alienation: Ethiopia’s Identity in Postcoloniality and its Implication for a Future Ethiopian Social Contract” (Northwestern University, forthcoming)

“A “South Positive” TWAIL Approach: Agency and Instrumentalization in the Adaptation to International Law” (with Frédéric Mégret)

“Towards a Theory of an Agency Model of International Law”

“Third World State Agency in Postcolonial Conditions: Ethiopia and its Transformation of the War on Terror into a Project of Domination”


“Ethiopia’s War of Narratives” (Africa is a Country)

“The Pitfalls of Ethiopian Elites’ War of Narratives” (Addis Standard)