Board of Advisors

Ambassador Diego E. Arria

Ambassador Diego E. Arria is a Venezuelan diplomat and politician. He was the Founding Editor of El Diario de Caracas, Governor of Caracas, a Congressman, and Minister of Information and Tourism. He served as the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Special Adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. He also served as Ambassador of Venezuela to the United Nations, as well as President of the UN Security Council where he initiated a modality that is named after him: the Arria Formula, an informal consultation process that gives non-governmental organizations a forum with members of the Security Council. Ambassador Arria has served on the board of the International Crisis Group, where he is now a Senior Adviser, at the Council on Foreign Relations as a Diplomatic Fellow, in the International Peace Institute, and as a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. He is presently on the Board of the Institute of the Americas at the University of California, the United Nations Association of the United States, the Museum of Art and Design of New York, and on the Advisory Boards of the Center for International Policy and Ethics of Brandeis University, and the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.

Professor Karima Bennoune

Professor Karima Bennoune is an Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law (Newark). Professor Bennoune graduated from a joint program in law and Middle Eastern and North African studies at the University of Michigan, earning a J.D. cum laude from the law school and an M.A. from the Rackham Graduate School, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. She received a joint B.A. in history and semiotics with honors from Brown University. In 1995 she served as a Center for Women’s Global Leadership delegate to the NGO Forum at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. From 1995 until 1999, she was based in London as a legal adviser at Amnesty International.

Professor Jerome A. Cohen

Professor Jerome A. Cohen is a Senior Fellow for Asia, Council on Foreign Relations; a law professor at New York University School of Law; and is of counsel to the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Mr. Cohen specializes in the international legal problems of East Asia. Mr. Cohen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale College (B.A. 1951).  He spent the academic year 1951-1952 as a Fulbright Scholar in France and graduated in 1955 from Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal and Order of the Coif.  He was Law Secretary to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1955 Term and Law Secretary to Justice Felix Frankfurter of the Supreme Court in the 1956 Term.  He subsequently practiced law, served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and was a consultant to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before beginning his academic career at the University of California School of Law at Berkeley in 1959.  He moved to Harvard Law School in 1964 and remained a faculty member there until he joined Paul, Weiss in 1981.

The Honorable Irwin Cotler

The Honorable Irwin Cotler has been a Member of the Canadian Parliament since 1999, and served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (2003-2006). Mr. Cotler is currently on leave as a Professor of Law at McGill University, where he is Director of its Human Rights Programme, and Chair of InterAmicus, the McGill-based International Human Rights Advocacy Centre. An international human rights lawyer, Professor Cotler served as Counsel to former prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union (Andrei Sakharov), South Africa (Nelson Mandela), Latin America (Jacobo Timmerman), and Asia (Muchtar Pakpahan). He later served as international legal counsel to imprisoned Russian environmentalist Aleksandr Nikitin; Nigerian playwright and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka; the Chilean-Canadian group Vérité et justice in the Pinochet case; and Chinese-Canadian political prisoner, Professor KunLun Zhang. More recently, he served as Counsel to Professor Saad Edin Ibrahim, the leading democracy advocate in the Arab world. A feature article on him in Maclean’s magazine referred to him as “Counsel for the Oppressed.” He is the recipient of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 2015 Human Rights Award.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC

Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC is a Liberal Democrat life peer in practice at Blackstone Chambers, Temple, London and specializing in international, constitutional, administrative and human rights law. Anthony Lester has argued many leading civil rights and liberties cases in British, European and Commonwealth courts. He helped to fashion anti-discrimination legislation when Special Adviser to Home Secretary Roy Jenkins in 1974-76, and was Special Adviser to the Northern Ireland Standing Committee on Human Rights (1975-77). He co-founded Interights (the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights) and is its Honorary President. He also co-founded the Human Rights Lawyers Association and the Runnymede Trust. Anthony Lester campaigned for thirty years to make the European Convention on Human Rights directly enforceable in British courts and is a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. His Private Member’s Bill resulted in the Human Rights Act, the Equality Acts, the Civil Partnership Act, and the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act. He is currently campaigning for defamation law reform. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Open Society Institute Justice Initiative, and a general editor of Lester, Pannick and Herberg, Human Rights Law and Practice (LexisNexis, 3rd ed, April 2009). He is Honorary Professor of Public law at University College London and University College Cork. He was Harkness Commonwealth Fellow at Harvard law School (1960-62), and Overseer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (1977-90). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Professor J. Christopher McCrudden

Professor J. Christopher McCrudden is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. He is a former Specialist Advisor to the British House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Fair Employment; a (non-practicing) Barrister-at-Law (Gray’s Inn); former member of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State’s Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights; a current member of the European Commission’s Expert Network on the Application of the Equality Directives; and a member of the Northern Ireland Minister of Finance taskforce on public procurement. Professor McCrudden specializes in human rights (international, European, and comparative), concentrating recently on the relationship between international economic law and human rights. He earned an LL.B. from Queen’s University, Belfast, an LL.M. from Yale Law School, and a D.Phil. from Oxford.

Birtukan Mideksa

Birtukan Mideksa is a former federal judge in Ethiopia and leading member of the Ethiopian political opposition. Her efforts to bring democratic change to Ethiopia and her repeated detentions by the Ethiopian government have led many to refer to Judge Birtukan as the Aung San Suu Kyi of her country. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2005 when her opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, won a large number of parliamentary seats. After 18 month in prison, Judge Birtukan was released in 2007 and went on to found the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ). In 2008, she was rearrested and was imprisoned for nearly two years before being released in October 2010. In 2010, she was nominated for the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. She was awarded a Reagan Fascell Fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy in fall 2011 to study the challenges facing Ethiopia’s democratic opposition. Judge Birtukan holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from Addis Ababa University.

Nuala Mole

Nuala Mole is the Founding Director of the AIRE Centre (“Advice on Individual Rights in Europe’) in London. She has worked in human rights for almost twenty years and has been involved in more than twenty-five cases before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights. She earned her degree in law at Oxford University.

The Honorable Patricia M. Wald

The Honorable Patricia M. Wald served for 20 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1979-1999), including five years as Chief Judge (1986-1991). Judge Wald serves on the Open Society Institute’s Justice Initiative Board (2002-present). Prior to serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Court of Columbia, Judge Wald was the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the Department of Justice, an attorney with the Mental Health Law Project, an attorney with the Center for Law and Social Policy, co-director of the Ford Foundation Drug Abuse Research Project, an attorney with the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, and an attorney with the Office of Criminal Justice at the Department of Justice. Judge Wald clerked for the Honorable Jerome Frank on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She received her B.A. from the Connecticut College for Women and her J.D. from Yale Law School. Judge Wald has received more than 20 honorary degrees.

Dr. Yang Jianli

Dr. Yang Jianli is an internationally activist renowned for his efforts to promote democracy in China. Dr. Yang was forced to flee China in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square massacre. He holds doctorates in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley and in political economy and government from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Dr. Yang is a former Freedom Now client. He was arrested during a visit to China in 2002 and sentenced to five years in prison for espionage and illegal entry. After an extensive campaign by Freedom Now, Dr. Yang was released and returned to the United States 2007. Following his release, he founded Initiatives for China, a grassroots movement dedicated to a peaceful democratic transition in China.