A committed person
I fight for rights and freedoms with determination and clear-headedness, driven by a belief in justice. Academic freedom is particularly close to my heart
A woman who brings people together
I work by bringing together people with different aspirations, temperaments, opinions and sensitivities.
A woman who listens attentively
I refuse to embark or decide on anything without having first consulted as widely as possible.
A ‘Carolo’ [someone from Charleroi] with Germanophone origins, first-generation university graduate
I was born on 18 March 1965 in Charleroi. My parents had just arrived from Saint Vith in the Germanophone community. I grew up speaking German and French, in these too very different places! The week days were spent in the ‘pays noir’ [literally, the black country, so named because of the abundance of coal in the region], working-class, welcoming and full of solidarity; all the school holidays and most Sundays in the green Eifel area, with its rural and traditional atmosphere. Living outside their home environment was difficult for my parents but at the same time I witnessed their enthusiastic discovery of the warmth of the ‘Carolos’ and of a culture that was so different from that of the eastern part of the country, which is more restrained, and to which they remained attached.
Tireless workers, my parents enabled me to go to university, opening the way for a first-generation of university graduates.
I have never left Brussels since I was 18 years old and have a blended family unit. I have a 15-year-old daughter, Marilou, and an 18-year-old stepson, Elias.
A legal professional specialising in the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
I am a full professor and am affiliated to the ULB Centre of public law, which I was Director of from 2001 to 2007.
My research and teaching mainly cover the intersections between domestic law and international law. I work more particularly on the implementation of international treaties in a federal state and the protection of freedoms and fundamental rights, which are mostly derived from international and European law.
Despite my full academic schedule, I have always kept a foot in the legal practice by continuing to be a lawyer at the Brussel Bar – within which I was active on a full time basis for five years after my studies (1988-1992). After a one year internship in the German-speaking law firm Hoffman, specialised in private international law and in business law, I joined the Lallemant-Pardes-Mackelbert law firm. Working with Roger Lallemand in the 1990s, when he was defending the law decriminalising abortion, was a seminal experience. Roger Lallemand fully introduced me into the world of lawyers who are committed to defending everyone’s rights and freedoms.
When I decided to take on an academic career as teaching assistant, in a part-time capacity in 1992, I was an employee, for a few hours per week, in the Hamaide-Krywin law firm. Anne Krywin, a great criminal lawyer, and Jacques Hamaide also devoted a large part of their professional career to the defence of marginalised individuals.
After the premature demise of Maître [a legal title] Krywin, I was one of the lawyers who set up the Jus cogens law firm, of which I was ‘Of counsel’. I dealt with some cases before the Council of State, the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
My specialisation in rights and freedoms necessarily led me to invest my time in associations defending human rights such as the international NGO European centre for Constitutional et Human Rights (ECCHR), based in Berlin, for which I was a member of the Advisory board. Its sister NGO, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR-New-York) allowed me to work in particular with the eminent Michaël Ratner, the lead counsel for Julian Assange.
If you put your trust in me, I will of course give up on my profession as a lawyer to devote myself entirely to the rectorship of the ULB.
A teacher and researcher in Law
I currently teach at the Faculty of Law and Criminology courses devoted to Rights and Freedoms, Intersections between Domestic Law and International Law. I also coordinate a Clinic of Rights and Freedoms, which was awarded the Socrates Prize in 2019.
For several years now, my research has been devoted to the role of judicial power in the implementation of fundamental rights. In this capacity, I coordinated an ARC (Action de recherche concertée [a joint research action]) on Strategic Litigation, which brings together researchers from several research centres of the ULB’s Faculty of Law and the UCLouvain’s Cell for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Rights.
This research enabled me to obtain a position as Senior Fellow at the Center on comparative Equality and anti-discrimination law at the University of California in Berkeley, during a period of sabbatical leave (2018).
Far from the stereotypes according to which lawyers are not invested in research, I am a research. As Dean, I opened up an era of collective research in the faculty. I also invested my time and energy into the ULB’s research council and worked actively with the advisor to the Rector for Research in Human Sciences.
A former Dean and Vice-Rector very involved in university policy
I was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Criminology (September 2007-January 2011) and Vice-Rector for Institutional Relations and Transfers of Knowledge (2010-2012) and for Academic Policy (2012-2016).
Through these posts, I have actively taken part in university policy, worked with a number of different actors, both from the university community and the policy and administrative world.
My legal training has been precious in managing the university given the growing grip of the law over our professions.
A professor recognised for her expertise
I regularly receive requests from international organisations, public authorites, associations and several political parties for my expertise in public law, in federalism, in human rights and fundamental freedoms. I have thus given opinions, offered council or carried out missions for, inter alia, the Upper Council of Justice, the R Committee, the Ministry of Justice, the Institute for Equality between Men and Women, the Embassy of Canada, the WHO, the European Commission, the Association for the Promotion of Education and Training Abroad, the Committee for the Protection of Private Life (current Data Protection Authority), Actiris, Selor, the Brussels Capital Region, the French community, several political parties…
An attentive listener, free and sensitive to the future of the university and to the aspirations of members of the university community.
My professional career and my external activities have forged my open and attentive personality motivated by public matters. I have developed a wide network of relations in the academic world in Belgium and abroad, the judicial world, the political world, civil society and our economic environment. I regularly interact with public authorities but also with the written, spoken and TV press, all precious assets for the position which, I hope, you will entrust me with.
A few highlights from my career
Master in Law
Master in LawJanuary 1, 1988
Special License in international Law
Special License in international LawFebruary 24, 1989
Member of the Center of Public Law
Member of the Center of Public LawFebruary 24, 1992
PhD in Law – “premier assistant” – Director of the Center of Public Law – associate member of the Centre of International Law
PhD in Law – “premier assistant” – Director of the Center of Public Law – associate member of the Centre of International LawFebruary 24, 2001
“Chargée de cours”
“Chargée de cours”February 24, 2003
Full Professor – Dean of the Law Faculty
Full Professor – Dean of the Law FacultyFebruary 24, 2007
Vice-rector for institutional relations and knowledge transfer
Vice-rector for institutional relations and knowledge transferFebruary 24, 2011
Vice-rector for the academic policy
Vice-rector for the academic policyFebruary 24, 2012
Senior Fellow at the Berkeley School of Law
Senior Fellow at the Berkeley School of LawFebruary 24, 2018