Faculty Co-Directors

Robert Goldman is a Louis C. James Scholar, co-director of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, faculty director of the the War Crimes Research Office, and professor of law. He holds expertise in international and human rights law, U.S. foreign policy, terrorism, and law of armed conflict. From 1996 to 2004 he was a member of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and its president in 1999. From July 2004 to July 2005, Goldman was the UN Human Rights Commission's Independent Expert on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. In October 2005, the International Commission of Jurists named him one of the eight jurists on the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights. In 2008, Goldman was elected Commissioner and member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists. He is author of The Protection of Human Rights: Past, Present and Future (1972); coauthor of Middle East Watch's book, Needless Deaths in the Gulf War, a 1991 publication that assessed civilian casualties during the 39-day air campaign and assigned responsibility for violations of the laws of war; and coauthor of The International Dimension of Human Rights: A Guide For Application in Domestic Law (2001). He is also the author of scores of reports, papers and articles on human rights and humanitarian law related issues.


Claudio Grossman is the Dean of American University Washington College of Law, Professor of Law and the Raymond Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law. Since his appointment as Dean in 1995, WCL has further developed its intellectual creativity, pursuing numerous and exciting initiatives such as dual degree programs, summer and semester abroad programs, local summer programs and institutes, the LL.M. in Law and Government Program, LL.M. in Advocacy, new LL.M. specializations, joint LLM/MBA degree, the S.J.D. Program, the Supervised Externship Program,  the Center on International Commercial Arbitration, the Intellectual Property Program, new clinics, and integrated sections and electives within the first year curriculum. 

Dean Grossman is currently the Chair of the United Nations Committee against Torture. He is also a member of the Governing Board and of the International Objectives Committee of the International Association of Law Schools. On January 1, 2014, Dean Grossman began serving as President of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, following three years on its Board of Directors. He is also a member of numerous associations including the American Law Institute. He was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights from 1993-2001, where he served in numerous capacities including President (1996-97; 2001), the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women (1996-2000), and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Populations (2000-2001). Dean Grossman is the author of numerous publications regarding international law and human rights and the recipient of numerous awards for his work in those fields. In 2009, the government of the Netherlands awarded Dean Grossman the decoration of Orange Nassau in the grade of "Commendeur". In 2010, Dean Grossman received the Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area in recognition of exceptional lifetime achievements related to the advancement and defense of human rights and civil liberties. In 2011, he was awarded the decoration of "Orden de la Justicia" from the government of Colombia in recognition of his career. In 2012, Dean Grossman received the Deborah L. Rhode Award from the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities for his work on behalf of pro bono and public interest programs throughout the country, a Doctor Honoris Causa honorary degree from the Universidad de San Martin de Porres for his outstanding academic and professional trajectory in defending human rights, the Lifetime Leadership Award from the Hispanic National Bar Foundation, and the Leadership Award from the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association.


Juan Méndez is a Visiting Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law and the current UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. He is also Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. He previously served as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the President of the International Center for Transnational Justice (ICTJ), and as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York. Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, the Honorable Kofi Annan named Professor Méndez his Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, a task he performed from 2004 to 2007. A native of Argentina, Professor Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. As a result of his involvement in representing political prisoners, the Argentinean military dictatorship arrested him and subjected him to torture and administrative detention for more than a year. During this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience.” After his expulsion from his country in 1977, Professor Méndez moved to the United States.  For 15 years, he worked with Human Rights Watch, concentrating his efforts on human rights issues in the western hemisphere. In 1994, he became general counsel of Human Rights Watch, with worldwide duties in support of the organization’s mission, including responsibility for litigation and standard setting activities. From 1996 to 1999, Professor Méndez was the Executive Director of the Inter American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica, and between October 1999 and May 2004 he was Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Between 2000 and 2003 he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and served as its President in 2002.


Photograph of Professor Diane OrentlicherDiane Orentlicher is a Professor of International Law at American University who has been described by the Washington Diplomat as “one of the world’s leading authorities on human rights law and war crimes tribunals.” She has lectured and published widely on issues of transitional justice, international criminal law and other areas of public international law, and has testified before the United States Senate and House on a range of issues relating to both domestic human rights laws and U.S. foreign policy. Professor Orentlicher has served in various public positions, including as the Deputy for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. Department of State (2009-2011); United Nations Independent Expert on Combating Impunity (on appointment by the UN Secretary-General) and Special Advisor to the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (on secondment from the U.S. Department of State).

Professor Orentlicher is a frequent commentator on television and in the print media on issues relating to war crimes trials and other issues of transitional justice. She has appeared on various news programs on NBC, ABC, BBC, CNN, NPR, PBS, MSNBC and other broadcast stations, and has published opinion pieces and been quoted in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and other papers.


Herman Schwartz is a Professor of Law and focuses on issues of civil rights and liberties, with special attention to constitutional reformation. Throughout a long career in academia, publishing and community service, he has focused his attention and the world's on issues of civil rights and civil liberties as they have played out in courts and prisons across the globe. In addition to the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian LAw, he has worked with the United Nations, the human rights advocacy group Helsinki Watch, the Herman Schwartz Israel Human Rights Law Fellowship Program, and the ACLU Prison Project, the later two of which he founded. He was awarded the 2006 Champion of Justice Award by the Alliance for Justice.  He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Open Society Foundations' Justice Initiative.

Professor Schwartz’s current work includes hunger issues and particularly the expansion of programs for school children during the summer. Schwartz formerly chaired the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and has developed a course in which students work with national and local public interest organizations that deal with poverty issues. He also is continuing to pursue a lifelong interest in the operations of America's courts, and frequently is called upon to analyze and write about Supreme Court decisions. Professor Schwartz has authored three books: Right-Wing Justice: The Conservative Campaign to Take over the Courts (2004), The Struggle for Constitutional Justice in Post-Communist Europe (2000) and Packing the Courts: The Conservative Campaign to Rewrite the Constitution (1988). He also edited and contributed to The Rehnquist Court: Judicial Activism on the Right (2002), and The Burger Years: Rights and Wrongs in the Supreme Court 1969-1986 (1987). He has written numerous reports, articles, chapters and scholarly papers.


Richard Wilson is a Professor of Law and the founding director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic. He began his legal career as a public defender in Illinois, and was director of the Defender Division at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in Washington from 1980-85. He taught at CUNY Law School in New York City from 1985-1989.

Professor Wilson has taught in the law school’s summer Human Rights Academy and in the Oxford International Human Rights Law Program. He was the director of the law school’s summer study program in Chile in 1995 and 1996, and director of the law school’s clinics from 1999-2003. He has been a Visiting Lecturer in law at Daito Bunka University in Tokyo, Japan, and at the Catholic University in Lima, Peru. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Colombia in 1987, and served as Legal Advisor to the Consulate of the Republic of Colombia in Washington during 1998.

He has lived or consulted in several Latin American countries and has lectured or consulted in the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, and Asia. Professor Wilson has presented three cases at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica and authored the friend-of-court briefs for the European Union in the United States Supreme Court successfully arguing that international law prohibits capital punishment for juveniles and for persons with mental retardation. Prof. Wilson serves as President of the Board of Directors of the World Organization for Human Rights, U.S.A., and on the Board of Ensaaf, a human rights NGO with focus on impunity in India, particularly in Punjab.

He is a co-editor of textbooks on international human rights law and practice; defense in international criminal law; and international criminal law and procedure. His scholarly interests include the globalization of public interest law, the death penalty and international law, the role of the defense in international war crimes trials, and clinical legal education in developing or transitional countries.