Anisseh (Anicée) Van Engeland-Nourai (LL.M Harvard Law School; Ma Iranian Studies Paris III Sorbonne; Ma International Relations Paris II Assas; PhD Islamic World, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) is a Max Weber Fellow affiliated to the law department at the European University Institute. She is also an adjunct professor at James Madison University in Florence where she teaches on European Union affairs.
She is an international human rights jurist and a political analyst. She has worked with ICRC, UNHCR, ILO, IOM and the French Minister of Foreign Affaires on a project in Afghanistan. She is a consultant for several universities, research centers and think thanks worldwide.
Her fields of expertise are international human rights, human rights in Iran, international humanitarian law, Islamic humanitarian law, refugees’ issues, terrorism and torture.
While being a Max Weber fellow, Anisseh will work on four research projects: the evolution of human rights in Iran; the comparison between Islamic humanitarian values and international humanitarian law, working on the notions of peace, war and jihad in Islamic law; the evaluation of Afghan and Iraqi migrations towards Iran; and the monitoring of the transformation of terrorist groups into political parties.
During her Ph.D. entitled “Universality of Human Rights and Iranian Law: Enforcement of Human Rights in a Muslim Country”, Anisseh analyzed Iranian law to understand what where the legal, political, social and cultural obstacles to the enforcement of universal of human rights. Her conclusions were that Iranian law is caught between tradition and modernity. Neither the principle of universality nor cultural relativism can provide a viable solution to this tension. She therefore analyzed the theories on conciliation and dialogue: Iranian civil society is the key to any enforcement of universal human rights and any democratic reform. Iran is going through a process of democratization taking place from the bottom to the top of the society. Consequently, she strongly support coordination with local partners as she perceives it as an essential part in the reform process: consultation with local experts, civil society and local NGOs is necessary to ensure a reform that will fit universal standards while respecting local specificities.
During her time at the EUI, Anisseh will enforce the theories of the new hermeneutics of the Shari’a she used to encourage the reform of Iranian law to fit universal standards to the Islamic law of war.
She has published articles in all these research fields. Her most recent publications include a book entitled From Violence to Politics: The Transformation of Terrorist Groups into Political Parties with Ashgate Publishers; a book chapter “Islamic law, terrorism and humanitarian law” in Law and police, Law, Terrorism and Miscarriage of justice (VB Malleswari, ICFAI, Hyderabad, A.P, India); and a forthcoming article is “Islam and the Protection of Civilians in the Conduct of Hostilities: The Asymmetrical war from the Transnational Terrorist Groups’ Viewpoint and from the Muslim Modernists’ Viewpoint”, in a special issue of the American University Law Review.
Anisseh features in Who’s who in the World, Who’s who emerging leaders and the Dictionary of International Biography She also serves on the advisory board of the Irmgard Coninx Foundation in Berlin.