International Human Rights Lawyer Sarah Knuckey to Join Law School Faculty
Knuckey Will Serve as Director of the Human Rights Clinic and Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute.
New York, February 17, 2014—Sarah Knuckey, an international human rights lawyer, professor, and special advisor to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, will join the Columbia Law School faculty July 1, 2014. She will serve as faculty co-director of the Human Rights Institute (HRI), director of the Human Rights Clinic, and Lieff Cabraser Associate Clinical Professor of Law.
Knuckey has carried out fact-finding investigations and reported on human rights and armed conflict violations around the world, including in Afghanistan, Brazil, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, and the United States.
She said she is delighted to join the human rights community at the Law School at a time when the field is undergoing crucial shifts.
“Columbia Law School’s clinic and institute have long been leaders and innovators in human rights,” Knuckey said. “The clinic and institute will seek to be at the forefront of new efforts to localize human rights and redistribute power, engage in interdisciplinary collaborations, advance human rights methods, and foster an ethic of internal critique.”
Dean David M. Schizer, the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law and the Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics, said Knuckey “will be a wonderful leader for this important program, which is such a valuable asset to our community.”
The Australian-born Knuckey’s work has addressed issues such as unlawful killings, armed conflict, sexual violence, corporate accountability, extractive industries, and protest rights. Her academic research interests include human rights methodologies, critical perspectives on human rights, new weapons technologies, transparency norms, and post-traumatic stress disorder and resilience.
In each of the past three years, Knuckey has been invited by Columbia Law School to deliver lectures on fact-finding methodologies and the investigation of human rights abuses in the context of armed conflicts.
Knuckey will join Columbia Law School Professor Sarah H. Cleveland, the Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, as faculty co-director of the Human Rights Institute. Together with HRI executive director Risa E. Kaufman, they will guide the institute’s initiatives and events.
“We are thrilled to have Sarah Knuckey join our faculty,” said Cleveland. “Sarah will continue Columbia Law School’s excellence and leadership in human rights clinical education, and in bridging human rights theory, advocacy, and practice. She brings expertise that will complement and enrich our current human rights programs, particularly with respect to our ongoing research and advocacy at the intersection between human rights, counterterrorism, and armed conflict.”
Founded by Professor Louis Henkin in 1998, the Human Rights Institute draws on the Law School’s deep human rights tradition to support and influence human rights practice in the United States and throughout the world. At Columbia Law School, the institute serves as the focal point of international human rights education, scholarship, and practice. Students in the Human Rights Clinic engage in human rights litigation and advocacy, often in partnership with grassroots organizations as well as international NGOs. Through the integration of the clinic and the institute, students work on initiatives such as promoting human rights compliance in the United States; addressing counterterrorism practices around the world; and investigating challenges at the intersection of development, private investment, and human rights.
Earlier this month, the institute released a report about abuses on Indian tea plantations. In 2013, the clinic published papers on human rights implementation in the U.S. at the state and local level, and in 2012, it released “The Civilian Impact of Drone Strikes: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions,” a major study of the U.S. government’s drones program and its impact on civilian populations.
Knuckey said the wide variety of projects at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute is key to the education of future human rights advocates.
“Students are immersed in the myriad types of human rights work and learn to engage the full toolbox of tactics,” she said. “They work with impacted communities and leaders in the field to design advocacy strategies, conduct investigations, prepare reports, and engage in media work, litigation, and the use of regional and U.N. mechanisms.”
Knuckey joins Columbia Law School from NYU School of Law, where she is currently an adjunct professor of clinical law and director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice’s Initiative on Human Rights Fact-Finding and its Project on Extrajudicial Executions. She is also a founding editor of Just Security, a new online forum for analysis of U.S. national security law and policy, and is a regular commentator in both print and broadcast media.