Washington College of Law Professor Appointed to U.S. Department of State
Diane Orentlicher is Second WCL Professor Appointed to Obama Administration Photograph of Professor Diane Orentlicher

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 1, 2009 – American University Washington College of Law (WCL) Professor Diane F. Orentlicher has been named Deputy, Office of War Crimes Issues for the U.S. Department of State. The Office of War Crimes Issues, led by Ambassador-at-Large Stephen Rapp, advises the Secretary of State directly and formulates U.S. policy responses to atrocities committed in areas of conflict and elsewhere throughout the world.

“Diane’s pioneering contributions to the law of accountability and war crimes make her a perfect choice for the Office of War Crimes Issues,” said WCL Dean Claudio Grossman. “We are certain that her appointment will further an important agenda for the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy.”

The Office of War Crimes Issues coordinates U.S. Government support for war crimes accountability in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Iraq, and other regions where crimes have been committed against civilian populations on a massive scale. The office works closely with other governments, international institutions, and non-government organizations, and with the courts themselves, to see that international and domestic war crimes tribunals succeed in their efforts to bring those responsible for such crimes to justice.

“I am deeply honored by this appointment and excited by the prospect of working with Ambassador Rapp in tackling some of the most urgent and challenging issues of our time, including the sweeping impunity that has made sexual violence a fundamental feature of armed conflict,” Orentlicher said. “The Office of War Crimes is uniquely placed to influence these issues and I look forward to the work ahead.” 

Orentlicher is co-director of the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Washington College of Law.  From 1995 to 2004, she served as faculty director of the law school’s War Crimes Research Office, which has provided legal assistance to international criminal tribunals since 1995.

Described by the Washington Diplomat as “one of the world’s leading authorities on . . . war crimes tribunals,” Orentlicher has lectured and written extensively on the scope of states’ obligations to address mass atrocities and on the law and policy issues relating to international criminal tribunals and universal jurisdiction. She has served as an independent expert and consultant to the United Nations in various capacities relating to the UN’s efforts to combat impunity. In September 2004, Orentlicher was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as Independent Expert to update the UN’s Set of Principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity. She has a BA from Yale and JD from Columbia.

Orentlicher joins WCL Professor Jonathan Baker in the Obama Administration. Baker was named chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission, and is now with the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning.

###