Daniel is the first Eritrean recipient of Germany’s prestigious post-doctoral fellowship, that of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2012). From the post-independence generation of legal scholars in Eritrea, he is the first to have obtained a doctoral degree in legal studies.
He is the co-author of a book, which is a recipient of a rare international recognition. The book, co-authored with Norwegian Professor Kjetil Tronvoll, is The African Garrison State: Human Rights and Political Development in Eritrea (James Currey: Woodbridge, 2nd rev. ed. 2017). The first edition of the book from 2014 was included in the 2015 prestigious annual list of “Outstanding Academic Titles,” compiled by CHOICE magazine of the American Library Association, the oldest and the largest library association in the world.
In his major professional area, consulting and the provision of legal services, Daniel has a record of landmark achievements comparable only with very few instances from his peer group. In the context of a cumulative work experience of more than two decades, Daniel has amassed a wealth of experience characterised by exceptional skills of composing highly sought after legal opinions and expert reports that have been used in resolving complex factual and legal issues or securing life-changing solutions, mainly on issues related to human trafficking, forced labour and grave human rights violations. The following are some examples.
- Between February 2010 and June 2012, Daniel authored several pieces of legal opinion for the London-based Linklaters LLP, one of the top ten law firms globally and member of the so-called “Magic Circle” law firms in the UK (top five law firms in the UK). Daniel’s role in this regard was instrumental in securing an international arbitral award of US$ 85.6 million in favour of a client represented by Linklaters LLP.
- Most recently, in October 2019, Daniel helped the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit in resolving a very complex asylum case, which has a history of five successive rejections since 2009, including by the Upper Trier Tribunal of the UK Immigration and Asylum Tribunal (the highest judicial organ in the UK on matters of immigration and asylum). The Manchester-based law office recognised Daniel’s role as follows: “… The matter was finally resolved in favour of our client by a judgement delivered on … This success was possible to a great extent as a result of your expert opinion, Dr. Mekonnen. Thank you so much for your consideration and work on this complex matter.”
In 2015, Daniel wrote a major legal opinion to the Canadian law firm, Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP and its associates, who represented a group of plaintiffs that brought a legal action against a Canadian mining company (Nevsun), alleging that the company has committed against them grave human right violations. Daniel’s legal opinion was used in the preparatory stage of a landmark judgement that was delivered by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on 6 October 2016 (Araya v. Nevsun Resources Ltd., 2016 BCSC 1856) – a judgement in favour of the plaintiffs. Following this, the Canadian company lost two successive appeals that were meant to dismiss the lawsuit. This happened first in a judgement of the Court of Appeal for British Colombia, delivered on 21 November 2017 in Araya v. Nevsun Resources Ltd., 2017 BCCA 401; and in a judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada delivered on 28 February 2020 in Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya 2020 SCC 5. The latter is the final judgement as far as Nevsun’s failed attempt to have the case dismissed is concerned. Accordingly, the process was described by the lawyers of the plaintiffs as an instance representing Canada’s first-ever mass tort claim for modern slavery proceeding to trial.