The European Legal Support Center (ELSC) is the first and only independent organisation defending and empowering the Palestine solidarity movement in Europe through legal means. We provide free legal advice and assistance to associations, human rights NGOs, groups and individuals advocating for Palestinian rights in mainland Europe and the United Kingdom.
The ELSC intervenes to end arbitrary restrictions and criminalization of peaceful advocacy and humanitarian work. It also develops legal tools and engages in strategic litigation to support civil society advocacy and campaigns.
The Center was established in January 2019 as a joint initiative of European jurists, the Palestinian civil society network PNGO and the Dutch NGO The Rights Forum, which has been hosting the ELSC in Amsterdam in the start-up phase.
In order to provide effective legal support, the ELSC combines monitoring, defensive strategies, impact litigation, trainings and advocacy.
• Document and analyse the restrictive measures that result in “shrinking space” for civil society defending Palestinian rights across Europe;
• Produce unique country reports exposing incidents, policies, legislation and case law related to repression of the Palestine solidarity movement in Europe.
• Develop effective legal defence strategies with lawyers against disinformation, smear campaigns and discriminatory policies to protect the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
• Carry out paralegal advocacy to engage authorities and public institutions.
• Facilitate and promote strategic litigation against public and private actors involved in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights to confront corporate impunity and strengthen accountability;
• Organise legal trainings and seminars for human rights defenders.
Giovanni oversees the legal defence team and the strategic litigation work. Previously, he worked as legal trainee at the Human Rights law firm Dragone, Loffredo e Cestaro in Venice (Italy), where he specialized on cases related to mass torts litigation, Business & Human Rights and civil liability before domestic courts and on violations of the right to life and the right of a due process before the European Court of Human Rights. In 2017 he carried out a research project with the Human Rights NGO Al Marsad on the Israeli oil exploration in the Occupied Syrian Golan.
Giovanni graduated in International Law from the University of Trento and worked for many years in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the development sector.
Chief Legal Officer
Kiran oversees our legal work, in particular about cases concerning freedom of expression and assembly, smear campaigns and discrimination in our focus countries (UK, The Netherlands, Germany). She is a lawyer admitted to the Rome Bar since December 2020, with experience in criminal law, migration and fundamental rights, including in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. She worked with Italian law firms, the Italian Red Cross in the Mediterranean migration crisis and at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Kiran graduated in Law from the University of Trento. She is also active in various NGOs and movements that provide legal aid to detainees, Lgbti+ migrants and exploited workers.
After starting out in the Advocacy and Communication department at the ELSC, Elisa now assists our development and fundraising efforts to ensure the ELSC receives the necessary resources to be able to sustain its mission. Elisa is a young graduate with previous experience working in corporate accountability non-profits, with a particular focus on Israel’s occupation industry and the international companies involved. She has also been active in the Dutch national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and currently organises locally with Palestine solidarity student groups.
Elisa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Multilingual Communication from the University of Geneva and a Master’s degree in International Relations from Leiden University. Her Master’s thesis analysed the role that Palestine, as an occupied and colonised landscape, plays in upholding the global, racialised political economy of militarism.
Advocacy and Communication Manager
Alice manages communication and advocacy strategies and campaigns of the ELSC. Previously, she worked as the Advocacy and Communication Officer of the French Platform of NGOs for Palestine where she coordinated campaigns on Business and Human Rights, issues related to Israeli illegal settlements and apartheid, shrinking space for French advocates of Palestinians’ rights and other human rights topics such as the detention of Palestinian children.
Alice has a Bachelor in French Law and a degree in UK and American Law, then she graduated in International Relations at the universities of Paris Assas and Paris Sorbonne. She wrote her Master’s thesis on the EU and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (1992-2014).
Daan de Grefte
Daan manages the empowerment work at the ELSC focusing on strategic litigation and advocacy projects on corporate accountability. He has experience investigating corporate involvement in war crimes, has worked in Palestine with various local NGOs to document and report human rights violations, and he is proficient in Arabic.
Daan has a Bachelor’s degree in International & European Law from the University of Groningen and a Master’s degree in Public International Law from the University of Amsterdam.
Agnese manages the defunding and financial de-risking work at the ELSC, supporting organisations advocating for Palestinian rights which face financial access issues with donors and banks.
Previously, she worked in an international law firm where she gained experience on civil law and national and international corporate law, dealing with corporate social responsibility and due diligence. She also completed an internship at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and another one at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin.
Agnese is a lawyer admitted to the Bar in Italy since October 2020. She graduated in Law from the University of Milan. She wrote a thesis in International Criminal Law on the critical analysis and future perspectives of the Palestine Situation at the International Criminal Court. Agnese is part of activist collectives conducting cooperation projects in Gaza.
Danah works on the cases that the ELSC supports in Germany. She previously worked with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), in Gaza, Palestine; particularly training on investigating and prosecuting international crimes in Gaza. She has also worked on a research project concerning children’s rights in stateless regions, focusing on the Saharawi region, in conjugation with the OPT. Within her work at the ELSC, she is slowly migrating towards European Union Law and International Law matters. Danah has a background of political organizing with local leftist collectives, including anti-fascist and Palestine solidarity groups.
Danah graduated in Law from the Maastricht European Law School, in the Netherlands. The degree tailored Dutch, German, French, UK, EU and International law into a comparative program. She also studied Neurosciences and specialized in Neuro-Law, researching that nexus on the prison and alternative justices, before deciding to join the legal work of the ELSC.
Itaï van de Wal
Junior Legal Officer
Itaï is the designated legal officer for the Netherlands at the ELSC. He has a background in political organising in various movements, including in antiracist and Palestine solidarity groups.
Itaï has a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences (major: Law) from Tilburg University and is currently doing an L.L.M. in Legal Research at Utrecht University. He is writing his Master’s thesis about the uses of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism to repress solidarity with Palestine.
The ELSC relies on a dedicated team of legal researchers and interns who are graduate students specialised on freedom of expression and principle of anti-discrimination under EU law and ECHR, data protection law, EU counter terrorism legislation, business and human rights.
OUR BOARD & SUPERVISORY COUNCIL
As of 2023, the ELSC is in the process of separation from The Rights Forum to become a separate foundation (stichting) that is licenced to operate for the public benefit, including through litigation in Dutch courts.
In this transition period, the ELSC is headed by the management board composed of:
- Gerard Jonkman: Director of The Rights Forum – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Frederiek de Vlaming: Director Nuhanovic Foundation, Centre for War Reparations; Senior Researcher, Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam
- Ghada Zeidan: Senior policy advisor on gender, development, human rights and conflict transformation with a focus on the Middle East
a supervisory council composed of:
- Tijmen van de Leemkolk: Legal counsel, Amsterdam
- Dina Zbeidy: Anthropologist, social science lecturer and researcher
- Michiel Bot: Associate Professor of Law and Humanities, Department of Public Law and Governance, Tilburg Law School
Technical assistance to the board and supervisory council is provided by the members of the steering committee that have led the ELSC in the start-up phase.
Renowned jurists and scholars from diverse European countries, who support Palestinian rights and provide professional assistance to civil society-led advocacy.
Valentina Azarova: Legal Scholar and Practitioner; Research Fellow at Manchester International Law Centre (MILC); Legal Advisor to the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).
Eric David: Professor Emeritus in International Law, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).
Xavier Dupré De Boulois: Professor in Public Law, Université Paris I – Panthéon Sorbonne.
Domenico Gallo: President of the Second section (civil) of the Court of Cassation in Roma; Former Senator.
Mazen Masri: Senior Lecturer in law at the City Law School, City University London; Qualified lawyer, former legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Chantal Meloni: Professor in International Criminal Law, University of Milan.
Karma Nabulsi: Professor in Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford; Former Adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Norman Paech: Professor Emeritus in Political Science and Public Law, University of Hamburg; Former Member of the German Parliament on behalf of Die Linke.
Gilberto Pagani: Former President of AED-EDL (European Democratic Lawyers) and of Legal Team Italian Practicing Human Rights Lawyer, Milan.
Ghislain Poissonnier: Judge in France; Legal adviser to French diplomatic missions in Kosovo, Palestine, Congo, Thailand, Afghanistan and Guinea.
Fanny Michaela Reisin: Former President of the International League for Human Rights – FIDH Germany; Co-Founder and former Executive Board Member of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in Near East – EJJP Germany.
Liesbeth Zegveld: Professor in Public International Law, University of Amsterdam; Practicing Human Rights Lawyer.
Triestino Mariniello: Senior Lecturer in Law at Liverpool John Moores University; member of the Legal Team representing Gaza Victims before the ICC.
ELSC Movement Lawyering Traineeship
The ELSC offers a Movement Lawyering Traineeship that aims to educate the next generation of human rights lawyers and advocates by rooting their legal training, experience and practice in the Palestine solidarity movement. As part of the traineeship you will learn how to use legal mechanisms, advocacy, media and other tools to support grass-roots movements and advance social justice causes. The programme will allow participants to build foundational knowledge and experience for working as a legal practitioner in the human rights law firms and in NGOs.
As part of the traineeship you will be an active member of the ELSC team, working alongside programme staff to gain practical legal and advocacy experience to support Palestinian rights activists. ELSC movement lawyering trainees have the choice of joining one of our project teams.
The Movement Lawyering Traineeship accepts application on a rolling basis for two positions:
Junior Legal Officer: Monitor and Defend
We are currently welcoming applications for the positions of:
– One Junior Legal Officer: Monitor and Defend starting from September 2023
Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an initial interview where they will be requested to complete a short assignment. Trainees with receive a monthly stipend of approximately €1100 and will be invited join the ELSC team in Amsterdam.
We invite young lawyers and legal activists who want to join our efforts to further progressive human rights work to apply for the programme. Further details on candidate requirements are listed in the individual job descriptions at the link above.
We further welcome applications from students seeking to pursue the traineeship as part of their studies in accordance with the Erasmus+ and Erasmus Trainee programmes. If you would like more information on how to complete this programme alongside an Erasmus scheme, please contact us at email@example.com.
Do you want to join the movement lawyering traineeship?
Send your CV and cover letter (max 250 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org. In your cover letter, please explain:
1. Why you are interested in a particular position of the programme and the ELSC’s mission.
2. Your ideal starting and finishing date.
Minimum duration of the traineeship should be 6 months.