PhD Student Solomon Amoateng Earns Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) International Law Graduate Scholarship

Amoateng recognized for his work during the 2015-16 academic year.

Priscilla Popp - 09 November 2016

Solomon Amoateng didn't think he had won. A friend from Dalhousie University had received the news a month earlier. It was probably hopeless. Or was it?

Then one morning an email arrived in his inbox: Amoateng was one of 32 LLM, SJD, and PhD students chosen to receive a Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) international law graduate scholarship.

Based in Waterloo, Ontario, CIGI is an independent, non-partisan, think tank focused on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate, and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements.

"I was more than excited, I will say that," said Amoateng with a smile, of his mood when he read the good news.

In addition to the funding he will receive to support his thesis research, Amoateng will spend a four-month residency at the CIGI campus in Waterloo starting in January 2017, meeting with other students and learning about their different areas of research.

"I'm thankful to CIGI for this scholarship and opportunity at a residency - and to the many professors who continue to help with my academic journey, including Professor David Percy, my LLM and PhD supervisor, and Professor Steven Penney, who recommended that I apply for the scholarship," said Amoateng.

"On behalf of the Faculty, congratulations to Mr. Amoateng on earning one of the CIGI international law graduate scholarships this year," said Dean Paul Paton. "We wish Solomon well during his residency in Waterloo, and throughout the rest of his PhD program here at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. I would also like to thank Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Matthew Lewans for his continuing support in helping facilitate and promote our graduate students for internal and external awards, and all professors supervising graduate students for your ongoing guidance and mentorship."

Born and raised in Ghana, Amoateng studied at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) from 2007-2011, where he obtained his LLB. While at KNUST, Amoateng participated in legal aid outreach and was a member of the judicial committee at the Unity Hall student residence, where he helped to settle disputes among students, particularly in election-related cases.

Amoateng then qualified as a barrister in Ghana in 2013 after completing the professional law programme at the Ghana School of Law. There, he was awarded the F.K. Apaloo Prize for best student in Company Law and Practice. That same year, Amoateng made the decision to pursue academia outside of Ghana.

With an idea already in mind for his thesis - a comparative study on natural resource law and the management of oil revenue for economic development in Alberta, Ghana and Norway - he applied for LLM programs at three Canadian universities.

Amoateng said choosing to study at the University of Alberta was easy given the school's close proximity to the energy industry. Notably, the move marked the first time he had ever left Ghana.

After completing his LLM at the Faculty, in 2014, Amoateng moved to Halifax, where he pursued another LLM at Dalhousie University, this time focusing on human rights law. While at Dalhousie, Amoateng was vice president of the Law Graduate Students' Association.

Today, Amoateng is back at the U of A, in the second year of his PhD program. Currently working on his thesis proposal, Amoateng plans to investigate the legal aspects of participatory governance in natural resource extraction and management, as well as how participatory governance can be used to mitigate conflict in mining communities. His research will compare findings between Alberta, Ghana, and South Africa, and will examine how Ghana and South Africa can learn from current Canadian practices.

In addition to the CIGI scholarship, Amoateng is also a three-time recipient of the Canadian Energy Law Foundation graduate scholarship, two-time recipient of the Foote Graduate Award in Law, the McDermid Graduate Scholarship in Law, the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation scholarship, and the Victoria Foundation's Linda Michaluk scholarship.

Amoateng is not one to rest on past accolades; he remains focused on the future, saying that his plan is to return to Ghana to work as a lawyer once his PhD is complete - a goal he has set for 2019. He would also like to be a law professor at a university in Ghana, a nod to his late mother, a former schoolteacher, who he says inspires him the most.

Until then, Amoateng continues to visit his family back in Ghana once every summer, a yearly reminder of just how far he's come, and how far he still wants to go.