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Sarah H. Cleveland

Sarah H. Cleveland is the faculty director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, where she is Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights. The Institute advances international human rights through education, advocacy, fact-finding, research, scholarship, and critical reflection.

An authority on international law, constitutional law, human rights law, and national security, Cleveland has served as an expert to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and in an advisory capacity to the State Department and she has testified before Congress on U.S. terrorism detention policy.

Cleveland gave the keynote address to the first annual conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform in 2019 and is an adviser to TrialWatch(R), an initiative of the Clooney Foundation for Justice in collaboration with the Law School and the American Bar Association to monitor trials with high risk of human rights violations.

She is a co-author of Louis Henkin’s Human Rights, considered a seminal casebook on international, regional, and national human rights law. A former Rhodes Scholar, Cleveland clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

The human rights system wasn’t created because we live in a perfect world but because we live in an imperfect one, and my personal interest is in grappling with how to make it better, not to linger on the system’s limitations.