Why International Human Rights Matter in the United States: Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program

Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program (HRP), spoke at the University of Chicago Law School on Wednesday, October 30, 2013. HRP is dedicated to holding the United States government accountable to its international human rights obligations and commitments. Jamil leads a team of lawyers and advocates who use a human rights framework to complement existing ACLU legal and legislative advocacy primarily in the areas of counter-terrorism, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and criminal and juvenile justice. HRP conducts human rights research, documentation and public education, as well as engages in litigation and advocacy before U.S. courts and international human rights bodies.

HRP’s docket includes both domestic lawsuits and petitions before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of individuals sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were children; victims and survivors of torture, forced disappearance, trafficking and domestic violence; disenfranchised felons; domestic workers and low-wage undocumented immigrants; as well as a challenge to the Oklahoma constitutional amendment banning the use of Sharia and international law. Jamil also serves as the ACLU Main Representative to the United Nations, and has testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, United Nations human rights bodies, and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), about human rights violations in the U.S.

Prior to joining the ACLU in 2004, Jamil worked at Human Rights Watch, where he conducted research, advocated, and published reports on issues of torture and detention in Egypt, Morocco, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Before coming to the United States, he was a senior attorney with Adalah, a leading human rights group in Israel, where he filed and argued human rights cases before Israeli courts and advocated before international forums. He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and NYU School of Law.