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James Cavallaro Elected to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Photo of Professor James Cavallaro

Professor James Cavallaro

STANFORD, Calif., June 7, 2013—Professor James Cavallaro, director of Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and the Stanford Human Rights Center, was elected yesterday to be one of the seven members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Antigua, Guatemala.

“This important position will allow Jim to carry on his tireless efforts to promote human rights in the Americas,” said Professor Lawrence Marshall, Associate Dean for Clinical Education and David & Stephanie Mills Director of the Mills Legal Clinic.

The IACHR was created in 1959 and is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity.

“I am honored and humbled by the results of the OAS election,” said Cavallaro. “This is a critical time for the Commission, and I hope to be able to apply my background in human rights, conflict resolution and experience in the Americas to advance the cause of human rights in the hemisphere.”

The United States Department of State, which put forward Professor Cavallaro’s nomination as an independent candidate, issued this statement about his election:

The United States… welcomes the election of U.S. candidate James Cavallaro, professor at Stanford Law School, who will make a significant contribution to the independent and respected Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – a founding pillar of the Western Hemisphere’s human rights architecture. The election of Professor Cavallaro, Jose de Jesus Orozco of Mexico, and Pablo de Tarso Vanucchi of Brazil is an affirmation of the core values of the OAS to promote and defend human rights in the Americas.

Professor Cavallaro’s candidacy was first announced by the State Department in February 2013. He spoke about his candidacy and shared his perspective about the need to maintain an independent commission in this video:

Cavallaro had the support of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who praised him before the General Assembly:

One of the OAS strengths is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. That is our regional watchdog on human rights, and the United States supports this commission’s work passionately. We have nominated an individual by the name of James Cavallaro. He’s a professor from Stanford, taught at Harvard, has spent a lifetime engaged in work on human rights. And we believe that he brings really a remarkable wealth of expertise and knowledge, and hope that he will be able to be a strong voice, a leading voice, for the protection of human rights.

About James Cavallaro

Professor James Cavallaro, the founding director of Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and the Stanford Human Rights Center, has dedicated his career to human rights—in both his scholarly research and his legal practice. His extensive expertise is derived from active involvement in the defense of rights, in the development of international human rights law and the human rights movement, in work involving human rights issues in Latin America and the developing world, and in international human rights litigation, with emphasis in the Inter-American and United Nations systems. Professor Cavallaro is a prolific scholar and sought-after voice on international human rights issues, and is frequently called upon to offer his expertise by the media and civil society.

Cavallaro received his BA from Harvard University and his JD from University of California at Berkeley School of Law, where he served on the California Law Review and graduated with Order of the Coif Honors. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Dolores K. Sloviter of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1993-1994). Early in his career, Cavallaro spent several years working with Central American refugees on the U.S.-Mexico border and with rights groups in Chile challenging abuses by the Pinochet government. In 1994, he opened a joint office for Human Rights Watch and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in Rio de Janeiro, and served as director of the office, overseeing research, reporting and litigation against Brazil before the Inter-American system’s human rights bodies. Professor Cavallaro founded the Global Justice Center in 1999; it is now a leading Brazilian human rights non-governmental organization. He then joined the academy, holding positions at Harvard Law School, most recently as clinical professor of law and executive director of the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program. He joined Stanford Law School’s faculty in 2011.

Among Professor Cavallaro’s recent individual and jointly written scholarly works are: “Name, Shame, and Then Build Consensus? Bringing Conflict Resolution Skills to Human Rights,” (Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, 2012); “No Place to Hide; Gang, State, and Clandestine Violence in El Salvador” (HRP Practice Series, Harvard University Press, 2010); “Reevaluating Regional Human Rights Litigation in the Twenty-First Century: the Case of the Inter-American Court” (American Journal of International Law, 2008); “Looking Backward to Address the Future?: Transitional Justice, Rising Crime and Nation-Building” (Maine Law Review, 2008); and “Never Again?: The Legacy of the Argentine and Chilean Dictatorships for the Global Human Rights Regime” (Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2008).

About the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic

The Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, launched in 2011, addresses a range of situations of rights abuse and violent conflict around the world. By providing direct representation to victims and by working with communities that have suffered or face potential abuse, the Clinic seeks both to train advocates and advance the cause of human rights and global justice.

About the Stanford Human Rights Center

The mission of the Stanford Human Rights Center is to promote events, research, student engagement, publications, public understanding, practical engagement and policy development in the area of international human rights and global social justice.  The Center will work closely with the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School (www.law.stanford.edu) is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.


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