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Hà Lê Phan-Warnke

Hà Lê Phan-Warnke

Freie Universität Berlin

Human Rights Under Pressure - Ethics, Law and Politics

Department of Law

PhD Candidate

Field of Research: The Human Right to Sanitation

Boltzmannstraße 3
—14195 Berlin

Lê is a German-Vietnamese human rights advocate and researcher. She holds a LL.B (German law) from the Dresden University of Technology, a Licence en droit (French law) from the Université Paris X and a LL.M (International human rights law) with distinction from the University of Essex. During her studies, she volunteered for the Essex Human Rights Centre Clinic (researcher), Amnesty International (president and human rights education coordinator of her local student group), the European Law Students’ Association (founder of the Dresden faculty group), the Refugee Council of Saxony (legal advisor) and the START Alumni Association (regional coordinator).

Before joining the research group, Lê was the Carlo Schmid Programme Fellow in the Research Division of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, where she supported the Millennium Development Goals Section with research and advocacy related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She has also consulted former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque, the German development agency (GIZ) and several NGOs including WASH United, the START Foundation and the Diakonie. As a student, Lê interned with the German Institute for Human Rights and a Dutch legal publisher.

To realize her academic education and professional training, Lê was awarded scholarships by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Hertie Foundation, the European Union, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German National Academic Foundation, the Mercator Foundation, the German Foundation for Integration and the German Research Foundation (DFG). Her working languages are German, English, French, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Lê’s research has focused on questions related to socio-economic rights, the extra-territorial application of human rights, the links between human rights and sustainable development as well as environmental protection. She is particularly interested in approaches from socio-legal studies and critical legal theory.

Her doctoral dissertation combines methods from traditional legal studies and the social sciences. Embracing a law and society approach, the study seeks to conceptualize a human right to sanitation through a subaltern local lens, i.e. through the experiences and perspectives of the “marginalized other”, people who live at the periphery of society or/and in situations of vulnerability. It puts the dimensions of equality and non-discrimination in access to sanitation in the centre and adopts an intersectional reading of different grounds of discrimination. On-site empirical inquiries into the views of grassroots actors will complement the legal analysis and help to single out problem areas which might compromise a legitimate and inclusive framing and implementation of the right to sanitation on the domestic and international level.


The private, the social, and the political: a human rights perspective on transgender bathrooms, openDemocracy - openGlobalRights (2016)


Water security, in: S. Breau, K. Samuel (eds), Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law, Research Handbooks in International Law series (Edward Elgar 2016)  (with Inga Winkler)


 How to govern transboundary waters for the benefit of all people?, Blog of the young researcher’s working group in the UN Association of Germany (2015)

04/2014  Über Grenzen hinweg: Die Bedeutung des Menschenrechts auf Wasser für grenzüberschreitende Gewässer, Journal of Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, 2014 (27/1), 17-27 (with Inga Winkler).
Freie Universität Berlin
The Minerva Center for Human Rights
Menschenrechtszentrum Uni Potsdam
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Einstein Foundation Berlin
Dahlem Research School