PhD Students (completed)

Miss Tara Van Ho (under examination)

Miss Van Ho is a Project Associate with the Essex Business & Human Rights Project and is completing her PhD in the School of Law. She is a licensed legal practitioner in the US State of Ohio, with a background in corporate law and litigation. She is an experienced teacher, researcher, and advocate. At the University of Essex, she has had sole or lead lecturing responsibilities for the undergraduate modules on Comparative Law and Public International Law, and has served on the teaching teams for the undergraduate Jurisprudence module and the post-graduate, interdisciplinary colloquium for the Human Rights Centre's MA/MSc programmes. 

Tara has gained a strong reputation for her research. As a member of the Global Governance and Transnational Human Rights Obligations (GLOTHRO) Research Network, Tara is co-editing a book on the direct human rights obligations of corporations, and serves on an expert working group updating the Tilburg Principles on the human rights responsibilities of the World Bank and IMF. Her academic research feeds her work as an advocate.  Tara's practical experience includes advising intergovernmental organisations, corporations, non-governmental organisations, and grass-roots activists on issues involving business and human rights. She has worked on and in a variety of countries, including Kosovo, Burma / Myanmar, Sudan and South Sudan, Afghanistan, Uganda, Senegal, and Nigeria. Her Ph.D. research is focused on the impact of international investment law on transitional justice initiatives in states emerging from conflict and authoritarianism. Because her focus is business and human rights, Tara maintains a generalist's approach to human rights and stays up-to-date on a large range of human rights concerns. She has conducted in-depth research on the freedoms of religion, expression, assembly, association, the right to freedom from torture, the definition and content of effective remedies, conflicts between human rights and conflicts in international law laws, the rights to health, adequate standard of living, and education, and the human rights obligations of intergovernmental organisations.

As the former Director of the Essex Human Rights Clinic, Tara's work required a strong working knowledge of issues related to the projects on minorities rights, land rights, detention conditions, fair trial conditions, reparations in the Inter-American system, and business and human rights. She also maintains an active interest in international humanitarian law, particularly the laws of armed conflict. During her LL.M. studies, she was an international finalist with the Jean-Pictet Competition, and has now trained three successive Essex teams for their participation in the competition, each of them reaching the international semi-finals. 

While undertaking her J.D. in the USA, she was an editor with the Human Rights Quarterly, a member of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, and a corporate law fellow at the University of Cincinnati. In 2013, she was the Visiting Executive at the McDonough Centre for Leadership and Business at Marietta College, a four-year, liberal arts post-secondary school in Ohio, USA. She was also named Marietta College's 2013 Outstanding Young Alumna for her work in human rights.

B.A., Marietta College, Ohio, US
J.D., University of Cincinnati College of Law, Ohio, US
LL.M., International Human Rights Law, University of Essex

Licenses: Bar of the State of Ohio; Federal Southern District of Ohio


Supreme Court of Ohio, Bar Admission (2005)
Federal Southern District of Ohio, Bar Admission (2006)
Fellow, Higher Education Academy (2014)

Research interests

International trade, investment and human rights
Business and human rights
International jurisprudence and litigation
Freedoms of religion, expression, assembly and Association
Prohibition on torture
International law in US domestic courts

Teaching responsibilities

Tara currently teaches for three undergraduate modules: comparative law, public international law, and jurisprudence. Tara previously tutored on the multi-disciplinary colloquium class for post-graduate multidisciplinary human rights students. Outside of Essex, Tara has taught on the M.A. in Securing and Defending Human Rights at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and summer school courses on international human rights law and on US law for the Open Society Foundations. 

Her teaching interests include public international law, international human rights law, business and human rights, jurisprudence, contracts, torts, and US Constitutional law and business law.  Based on her experience, Tara was named a Fellow in the Higher Education Academy in July 2014.


Book Chapter, Transnational Civil and Criminal Litigation, in Corporate Accountability in the Context of Transitional Justice (Sabine Michalowski, ed.), available from Routledge Publishing here.

Co-author, Corporate Liability in a New Setting: Shell and the Changing Legal Landscape for the Multinational Oil Industry in the Niger Delta. Published by the Essex Business & Human Rights Project. 

Comment, Reconstructing the Marriage of Ownership and Control: Is the SEC Missing an Important Step in its Hesitancy to Adopt Proposed Rule 14A-11?, 73 Uni. Cincinnati L. Rev. 1211 (2005).

Study areas

Business and human rights; investment and human rights; extraterritorial obligations for human rights; freedom of religion and belief; freedom from torture; public international law; international human rights law; international law in domestic courts.

SupervisorProfessor Sheldon Leader
Thesis titleRegulation of Foreign Direct Investment for the Protection of Human Rights in Transitional States

Tara's thesis examines issues in international investment law, business and human rights, and transitional justice to assess how the three fields complement and clash in a way that has the potential to exacerbate underlying conflicts in particularly vulnerable states - those emerging from conflict or authoritarian regimes. The dissertation aims to establish a workable framework with a solid legal and historical basis for protecting the sovereign rights of post-conflict and post-authoritarian states, while ensuring the human rights of those likely to be impacted by new investment are respected, protected and fulfilled.


"Integrating Human Rights into the Extractive Industries: How Treaties, Laws and Contracts Can Achieve Protection," at the conference on "Natural Resource Grabbing: Erosion or Legitimate Exercise of State Sovereignty?" held at University of Cagliari in October 2013 (with Anil Yilmaz)

"Due Diligence under International Investment and Human Rights Law," Global Governance and Transnational Human Rights Obligations Network, Workshop in Bled, Slovenia, January 2013 

"Foreign Investment in Transitional States: Raising Concerns about 'Ruggie' and Suggesting Steps for Ireland, at "Ireland and the United Nations Framework for Business & Human Rights," at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI-Galway, March 2012

Foreign Direct Investment and Human Rights in Western Asia after the Arab Spring, University of Essex Human Rights in Asia Confrence, June 2012

Lessons from Guantanamo Bay. How Implementing Legislation Can Facilitate Non-compliance in Dualist States, at the International Law Association - British Branch, Annual Conference 2010

PhD Schools at: EUI, Florence, Dec. 2011; NUI-Galway, April 2012

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