Faculty Co-Directors

Robert Goldman is Louis C. James Scholar; co-director, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law; faculty director, 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. He is author of The Protection of Human Rights: Past, Present and Future (1972); co-author 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 a member of the Governing Board of the International Association of Law Schools, member of the Board of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and member of the International Objectives Committee of the Association of American Law Schools. Grossman is also serving as a referee in peer review evaluations for the European Research Council Dedicated Implementation Structure, under the Ideas Specific Programme, until 2013. 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 including the 2010 Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area and the 2012 Deborah L. Rhode Award from the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities.He was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa honorary degree from the Universidad de San Martin de Porres in 2012 for his outstanding academic and professional trajectory in defending human rights.


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 also serves as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He is also Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Until May 2009 he was the President of the International Center for Transnational Justice (ICTJ) and in the summer of 2009 he was 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.


Diane Orentlicher is a Professor of Law and was the founding faculty director of the law school’s War Crimes Research Office, which has provided legal assistance to international criminal tribunals since 1995. She is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on war crime tribunals and 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 United Nation’s efforts to combat impunity. In September 2004, Professor Orentlicher was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as Independent Expert to update the United Nation’s Set of Principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity. Professor Orentlicher also serves as faculty co-director of the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Washington College of Law. Professor Orentlicher is currently on leave serving in the Obama Administration’s Office of War Crimes at the Department of State.


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. He has worked with the United Nations, the human rights advocacy group Helsinki Watch, the U.S./Israel Civil Liberties Law Program (which he founded), the ACLU Prison Project (which he founded), Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and other organizations. In May 2006 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 Institute 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 (May 2004), The Struggle for Constitutional Justice in Post-Communist Europe (2000) and Packing the Courts: The Conservative Campaign to Rewrite the Constitution (1988); 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.  Professor Schwartz also serves as a faculty co-director of the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Washington College of Law.


Richard Wilson is a Professor of Law and the founding director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic. The consistent focus of Professor Wilson's scholarly work has been the tension between the "haves" and the "have-nots" of the law, whether they are individuals, countries, or entire legal cultures. He has presented three cases at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and has represented detainees at Guantanamo Bay in federal court and in military commission proceedings. 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. Professor Wilson seeks to improve access to justice by improving legal training of public interest advocates, including public interest and clinical offerings in law school curricula, opposition to the death penalty, developing models of legal representation of the poor, and effective use of international human rights law in domestic and international law. Professor Wilson is active in the development of legal aid, public defense, public interest NGOs and law school clinics throughout the world. He co-authored a report for the International Human Rights Law Group entitled Promoting Justice: A Practical Guide to Strategic Human Rights Lawyering (2001), which draws from regional meetings of human rights NGO lawyers from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Professor Wilson is also interested in new developments in the law, procedures and structures for providing appointed defense counsel in international war crimes trials and international criminal tribunals.