We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Talita de Souza Dias as the next Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow (JRF) in Law at Jesus College. The Shaw Foundation, located in Singapore and founded in 1957, is one of the largest philanthropic organisations in the world. It works to support a wide range of organisations across education, welfare, medicine, arts and heritage and has generously funded the Fellowship four times previously.
Talita joins us from the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, where she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC). She is the fifth recipient of this scholarship, and the first woman to have been awarded it. The position has the further goal of developing links between Jesus College and the Singaporean legal community, and the JRF has the option to pursue a term at the National University of Singapore, also funded by the Foundation.
Talita’s research during the JRF will focus on the phenomenon of online hate speech from an international legal and policy perspective. In particular, Talita will be looking at the extent to which different international legal rules, including international human rights law, require states to prevent expressions of hatred, violence and discrimination on social media platforms and other online fora, by using different policy mechanisms, whilst holding to account the various actors responsible for such action.
Talita explains, “My research at the ELAC has focused on the application of international law to information and communications technologies, the most prominent among which is the Internet and its multiple applications. Working in collaboration with Professor Dapo Akande, we looked at the different obligations that states have under international law to prevent and mitigate malicious cyber operations, including the recent cyberattacks against hospitals and vaccine research during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We also looked at the international legal framework applicable to disinformation campaigns (including those relating to coronavirus and the vaccine) and electoral interference in the context of the recent US election.”
“This work has been an important stepping stone to the research that I will carry out during my fellowship at Jesus, which will focus on online hate speech and the various ways that international law may help prevent it and hold to account those responsible.”
Talita’s research work has led to an ongoing partnership with Microsoft, known as The Oxford Process on International Law Protections in Cyberspace, as well as three statements signed by leading international lawyers around the world on the protections that international law offers to the healthcare sector, vaccine research and development and electoral/democratic processes. These have been cited at different United Nations Security Council meetings on cybersecurity.
She adds, “In fact, given the significant interest in my research so far, I will continue to be involved in the partnerships Prof Akande and I forged with Microsoft and others during my work at the Blavtanik School of Government.”
Talita grew up in the Northeast of Brazil, a region known for its unique history and cultural diversity. She pursued her undergraduate degree at Recife’s Law Faculty, one of the oldest law schools in the country and now part of the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).
Talita’s DPhil Thesis, completed at the University of Oxford in 2019, was recently awarded a Special Mention of the English-Speaking René Cassin (International Institute of Human Rights) 2020 Thesis Prize. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Journal of International Criminal Justice Prize and the Clifford Chance Prize for Best Overall Performance in the 2015 Oxford Law Faculty Magister Juris programme.
She says, “As a mixed-race woman, a national of a developing country and the only child of working-class parents, I feel very privileged to have been able to pursue my graduate studies at Oxford and to be able to carry the title of Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law for the next 3 years or so.”
Talita will join Jesus College on March 1st 2021.