International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney


St. Hugh's College, Oxford University, B.A./LL.B.
New York University School of Law, LL.M.

Areas of Specialty

• Public International Law
• International and Comparative Human Rights
• International Criminal Law
• Business and Human Rights

Amal Clooney is a barrister who specializes in international law and human rights. She represents clients before international courts including the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Alongside court work, she provides advice to governments and individuals on legal issues in her areas of expertise.

Professor Clooney is ranked in the legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners  as a leading barrister in international law, human rights and criminal law. She is described as ‘a brilliant legal mind’, a ‘very effective and focused advocate’, and ‘a fantastically innovative lawyer’ who is ‘tactically first class’ and ‘a rare combination of intellectual depth and pragmatism’. The directories highlight her ‘deep knowledge of public international law’, her ability to galvanise ‘heads of state, foreign ministers and business  … in a way that is very effective for clients’ and her ‘passionate commitment to the law and compassion for the people it serves’.

Professor Clooney served as a senior advisor to Kofi Annan when he was the UN’s Envoy on Syria. She has also served as Counsel to the UN Inquiry on the use of armed drones and as a rapporteur for the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute on independence of the judiciary. She is a member of the UK’s team of experts on preventing sexual violence in conflict zones and the UK Attorney General’s panel of experts on public international law.

Professor Clooney frequently represents victims of mass atrocities, including genocide and sexual violence, as well as political prisoners in cases involving freedom of expression and fair-trial rights. She was the recipient of the 2020 Gwen Ifill Award for ‘extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom’ from the Committee to Protect Journalists. And she is deputy chair of the High-Level Legal Panel of Experts on Media Freedom established at the request of the UK and Canadian governments and chaired by former UK Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger.

Professor Clooney worked in The Hague with various UN-sponsored justice mechanisms including the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. She is admitted to the New York Bar and practiced as a litigation attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York. She is also the co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which aims to advance justice through accountability.



  • The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law, with P. Webb (Oxford University Press, 2020).
  • The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Law and Practice, co-edited with D. Tolbert and N. Jurdi (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Selected Chapters, Articles, and Blogs

  • "The Right to Insult in International Law?", with P. Webb (Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 2017).
  • “Human Rights”, chapter in Satow’s Diplomatic Practice (7th Edition, Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • “The Anatomy of an Unfair Trial”, Huffington Post, 19 August 2014.
  • “The UN Investigation of the Hariri Assassination”, with A. Bonini, in The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Law and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • “Will Syria go to the ICC?”, The Lawyer Magazine, 10 December 2012.
  • “The Role of the Security Council in Starting and Stopping Cases at the International Criminal Court: Problems of Principle and Practice”, chapter in A. Zidar and O Bekou (eds), Contemporary Challenges for the International Criminal Court (British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2014).
  • "Expanding Jurisdiction over War Crimes under Article 8 of the ICC Statute", with P. Webb, (2010) 8(5) Journal of International Criminal Justice 1219-1243.
  • “Collection of Evidence”, in K. Khan, C. Buisman, and C. Gosnell, Principles of Evidence in International Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Selected Cases

Genocide, Sexual Violence, Torture and other Mass Atrocities

Yazidi Genocide (representative cases)

  • Yazidi genocide perpetrated by ISIS (legal advice and advocacy before United Nations). Representing a group of Iraqi victims from the Yazidi community seeking accountability for genocide and other crimes perpetrated by ISIS. Provide ongoing legal advice and succesfully advocated for creation of a UN investigation of ISIS’ crimes in Iraq, now operational pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2379. Clients include Nadia Murad, who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, and the charity Yazda, which represents Yazidi survivors worldwide.
  • United States v. Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar (a/ka “Umm Sayyaf”) (US District Court, Eastern DIstrict of Virginia). Representing two Yazidi women under the US Crime Victims’ Rights Act in a criminal case involving crimes committed by ‘the ISIS widow’ (wife of Abu Sayyaf, who was a senior leader within ISIS) currently pending in the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Prosecutor v. Taha A-J (Regional Court of Munich). Representing a Yazidi woman in a criminal case in which the defendant was a member of ISIS and, together with his wife, purchased, enslaved, tortured and killed the client’s five-year old daughter. This is the first known case in the world where a member of ISIS faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under universal jurisdiction laws.
  • Prosecutor v. LafargeHolcim (French Supreme Court) Representing a group of Yazidi women in landmark criminal proceedings against a French multi-national, LafargeHolcim. The company is charged with financing terrorism and complicity in crimes against humanity for allegedly providing funds to ISIS through a local subsidiary.
  • Prosecutor v. Sarah O (Regional Court of Dusseldorf) Representing Yazidi victims in a case in which the defendant, a member of ISILS’ so-called ‘morality police’ (hisbah) faces charges of war crimes, terrorism, human trafficking and deprivation of liberty.

Rohingya Genocide

  • The Gambia v. Myanmar (International Court of Justice). Instructed by a state party to the Genocide Convention to intervene in the ongoing case between The Gambia v Myanmar before the International Court of Justice, addressing Myanmar’s alleged responsibility for genocide against the Rohingya and seeking remedies for the victims.


  • Ireland v. UK (European Court of Human Rights).  Representing the ‘hooded men’ in an application by the Republic of Ireland for revision of a 1978 decision by the European Court of Human Rights holding that the ‘five techniques’ including hooding, food and drink deprivation and sleep deprivation did not amount to torture.
  • Mutua et al. v. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (High Court of England and Wales). Legal advice on international law aspects of claim by 5 members of the Mau Mau Kenyan tribe alleging torture in detention camps during British Colonial rule in Kenya.
  • Johnson v. Ghana (African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights). Representing a Ghanaian citizen before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in a case arguing that the mandatory death penalty imposed for certain categories of crimes amounts to a violation of the defendant’s rights to life, fair trial and inhuman or degrading punishment.
  • R (Bancoult) v. FCO (No.2) (UK Supreme Court). Representing Mr Bancoult in proceedings concerning the removal of Chagossians from the Chagos Islands in 1971 and their right to return (instructed by Clifford Chance).
  • Roma Lead Poisoning (United Nations Secretariat). Advising and representing members of the Roma community in claims for compensation against the United Nations arising from their lead poisoning in Kosovo’s IDP camps (instructed by Leigh Day).
  • Prosecutor v. Ayash et al (Special Tribunal for Lebanon, The Hague). Member of the prosecuting team at the first UN-created court dealing with terrorism. Case concerned five persons accused of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and others in a terrorist attack in Beirut.
  • UNIIIC (UN International Independent International Investigation Commission). Legal adviser to head of investigative team created by UN Security Council to investigate terrorist attacks on pro-western politicians and journalists in Lebanon. Full-time position based in Lebanon for over two years, interviewing witnesses and building prosecution case files that led to indictments for terrorism being issued against 5 members of the Hezbollah group.
  • Prosecutor v. Milosevic (UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). Judicial assistant to Judge Patrick Robinson, Presiding Judge, in first trial of a head of state for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Case charged former President of former Republic of Yugoslavia with crimes allegedly committed in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia during the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Freedom of Expression, Journalists and other Media Professionals

  • Prosecutor v. Maria Ressa and Rappler (Manila Regional Trial Court, the Philippines). Counsel for award-winning Filipino journalist facing over 100 years in prison in Manila based on spurious charges including ‘cyber-libel’.
  • Prosecutor v. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Insein District Court in Yangon, Myanmar). Counsel for two Reuters journalists convicted and sentenced to 7 years in prison in Myanmar following their reporting on crimes committed against Rohingyas by the Myanmar forces, including the execution of 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine State. Currently on appeal. The two journalists were released in May 2019.
  • Khadija Ismayilova v. Azerbaijan (European Court of Human Rights). Representing award-winning journalist subject to politically-motivated prosecution by the Azeri regime following her reporting of corruption by the President and his family. The European Court ruled in her favour and she was released in 2016.
  • Prosecutor v. Mohamed Fahmy (Cairo Court of Appeal and Egypt Supreme Court).  Representing journalist from Al Jazeera English television network detained in Egypt following an unfair trial for the crimes of ‘terrorism’ and ‘fake news’.  Fahmy was released in 2015.
  • Sweden v. Assange (City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, London). Representing Julian Assange, head of Wikileaks, in extradition proceedings.  

Right to a Fair Trial and Political Prisoners

  • Mohamed Nasheed v. The Maldives (UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and UN Human Rights Committee).Representing the Maldives’ former president who had been subject to an unfair and politically-motivated trial. Nasheed was released in 2016.
  • Tymoshenko v. Ukraine (European Court of Human Rights). Representing former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko in human rights claim challenging her politically-motivated prosecution and detention in Ukraine. The case was settled with an acknowledgement of all violations raised in the European Court claim.
  • Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo v. Philippines (UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention). Representing the former President of the Philippines in a human rights claim challenging her detention in Manila. UN committee ruled in her favour. Arroyo was released in 2016.
  • Fuchs v. Georgia.  Legal advice on violation of businessman’s human rights arising from his entrapment by Georgian officials (instructed by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP).
  • John Doe v. Algeria.  Advice concerning politically-motivated INTERPOL arrest warrant and travel ban imposed as a result of malicious prosecution by Algerian authorities (instructed by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP).
  • Merck v. Ecuador (Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague). Assistant to the Tribunal in UNCITRAL arbitration concerning a claim of denial of justice in Ecuadorian courts.

Other Cases involving Public International Law, International Criminal Law and Human Rights

  • Cambodia v. Thailand (International Court of Justice). Representing Cambodia in inter-state territorial claim concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (International Court of Justice, The Hague). 
  • Parthenon Marbles (Advice to Greek Government). Advising the Greek Government on the return of cultural property - the Parthenon Marbles - from the United Kingdom to Greece.
  • AAA v. Camellia PLC et al (English High Court). Representing 79 Kenyans in claim against UK-based company for human rights abuses committed by security guards in Kenya including killings, rape, attacks and false imprisonment over a ten-year period.
  • Prosecutor v. Senussi and Gaddafi (International Criminal Court). Participated in litigation on appropriate venue for trial of former Libyan intelligence chief. Argued that trial for alleged crimes against humanity should take place in The Hague, not Libya due to lack of fair process in Libya and application of the death penalty.
  • Young v. A-G of New Zealand (Supreme Court of New Zealand). Advice on scope of state immunity under domestic and international law in claims alleging human rights abuses by members of the armed forces.