Sarah Cleveland

Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights; Faculty Co-Director, Human Rights Institute

Sarah Cleveland

Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights; Faculty Co-Director, Human Rights Institute

Sarah Cleveland is the Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights and faculty director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School. She is a noted expert in international law and the constitutional law of U.S. foreign relations, with particular interests in the status of international law in U.S. domestic law, international and comparative human rights law, international humanitarian law, and national security. She also holds prominent roles as an independent expert on the U.N. Human Rights Committee, as co-coordinating reporter of the American Law Institute’s project on the Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States, and as the U.S. member on the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

From 2009 to 2011, Cleveland served as the counselor on international law to the legal adviser at the Department of State, where she supervised the office’s legal work relating to the law of war, counterterrorism, and Afghanistan and Pakistan, and assisted with its international human rights and international justice work. She has testified before Congress on matters ranging from U.S. terrorism detention policy to the relevance of international law in constitutional interpretation, and has provided evidence to the U.K. Parliament. She continues to serves as an adviser to the State Department.

Cleveland has written widely on issues of international law, human rights, and U.S. foreign relations law. Of her many publications, she is a co-author of Louis Henkin’s Human Rights casebook.

Before joining the Law School faculty in 2007, she previously taught at Harvard Law School, the University of Michigan Law School, the University of Texas School of Law, and the University of Oxford. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and Judge Louis Oberdorfer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Cleveland holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, a master’s degree from the University of Oxford, and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.

  • J.D., Yale Law School, 1992
  • M.St., Lincoln College, University of Oxford, 1989
  • A.B., Brown University, 1987
Areas of Expertise
  • International human rights
  • National security and international humanitarian law
  • Foreign affairs and the Constitution
  • International law in U.S. courts
  • Federal civil procedure
  • Human Rights casebook (co-author with Louis Henkin), 2009 (2nd edition) and 2013 (update)  
  • “Defining and Punishing Offenses Under Treaties,” Yale Law Journal, 2015 
  • “After Kiobel,” Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2014
  • “The Kiobel Presumption and Extraterritoriality,” 52 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 8, 2013 
  • “Embedded International Law and the Constitution Abroad,” Columbia Law Review, 2010
  • “Our International Constitution,” Yale Journal International Law, 2006
  • “Powers Inherent in Sovereignty: Indians, Aliens, Territories and the Nineteenth Century Origins of Plenary Power Over Foreign Affairs,” Texas Law Review, 2002
  • “Human Rights Sanctions and International Trade: A Theory of Compatibility,” Journal of International Economic Law, 2002 
  • “Norm Internalization and U.S. Economic Sanctions,” Yale Journal International Law, Winter 2001
Download Full C.V.
Civil Procedure
Human Rights
Legal Methods II: Transnational Law and Legal Process
S. Advanced Human Rights Practicum
S. International Lawyering for Governments