Lisa Davis is the Clinical Professor of Law for the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic (formerly named International Women’s Human Rights Clinic) and leads the Gender Law and Policy Project (GLPP) at the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. For over fifteen years she has worked as an advocate for gender and human rights. She has written and reported extensively on human rights and gender issues, including on women’s rights and LGBT rights, with a focus on peace-building and security issues in conflict and disaster settings. She has also testified before various international human rights bodies and Congress. Lisa is a Board Member of the LGBT Social Science and Public Policy Center at Roosevelt House and a member of the Circle of Health International Middle East Delegation.

Lisa has led in-country fact-finding investigations and trainings on human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia and has advocated before various U.N. human rights bodies, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and in domestic court. Lisa served as lead counsel for the 2010 IACHR petition on behalf of displaced Haitian women and girls, which resulted in the Commission’s first-ever precautionary measures decision recognizing state responsibility to prevent third-party gender-based violence. She was subsequently awarded The 2011 People’s Choice Gavel Award by her peers for the decision.

In Karen Atala and Daughters v Chile, Lisa co-authored the only amicus curiae brief to argue that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes under international law. The brief was also co-authored by the law firm Morrison & Foerster, which focused on the custody issue at hand, arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity should not be factors in custody determinations. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a groundbreaking decision providing for an explicit prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Prior to joining CUNY Law in 2010, she established the advocacy department at MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, where she developed the legal advocacy platform to advance women’s human rights in peace-building and security issues. Lisa continues to direct the international advocacy and litigation strategies for MADRE.

Before working at MADRE, Lisa worked as an international human rights legal consultant for various U.N. experts and inter-governmental institutions on gender and human rights concerns throughout the world. She also provided consultation for expert testimony to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in the Gonzalez, Herrara Monreal, and Ramos Monarrez v. The United Mexican States cases. Lisa served as the Coordinator for the Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network (LERN) Gender Working Group for two years and was a member of the New York City Bar Association International Human Rights Committee.

From 2001-2003, Lisa was the Civil Rights Policy Analyst at the National Coalition for the Homeless where she developed and advanced legislative policy recommendations including for the Help America Vote Act. She also successfully advocated for a General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation into hate crimes committed against homeless people.


    Book chapters

  • BRIDGING LEGAL DIVIDES TO TRANSFORM WOMEN’S LIVES: THE COPELON APPROACH TO GENDER AND HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERING, (Lisa Davis, Cynthia Soohoo & Cathy Albisa eds.), Feminist Press, (forthcoming, Oct. 2016)
  • Recognizing the Gendered Dimensions of Torture, Violence, and Discrimination Under International Law, chapter in, TORTURE AND ITS DEFINITION IN INTERNATIONAL LAW: AN INTER-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH, Oxford University Press, (forthcoming Oct. 2015)
  • MADRE et al, Our Bodies Are Still Trembling, chapter in, TECTONIC SHIFTS: HAITI SINCE THE EARTHQUAKE, Kumarian Press, North American Congress on Latin America (Jan. 2012)
  • Scholarly Publications

  • The ISIS Conflict: Impacts on Gender and Human Rights in Iraq, 47 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 1, (forthcoming Spring 2016)
  • Sexual Violence, the Syrian Conflict, and the Way Forward: Women’s Inclusion in the Peace Process, 46 SW. L. REV. 1, (forthcoming Fall 2015)
  • Still Trembling: State Obligation Under International Law to End Post-Earthquake Rape in Haiti, 64 U. MIAMI L. REV. 2 (2011)
  • Lisa Davis & Blaine Bookey, Fanm Ayisyen Pap Kase: Respecting the Right to Health of Haitian Women and Girls, HARV. HEALTH & HUM. RTS. J., 13.1 (2011)
  • Julie Mertus & Lisa Davis, Citizenship and Location in a World of Torture, 10 N.Y. CITY L. REV. 2 (2007)
  • Essays and Editorials

  • Syrian Women Refugees: Out of the shadows, 50.50 INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, OPEN DEMOCRACY.NET (June 15, 2014) (regular contributor 2014 - present)
  • LGBT Haitians Targeted with Violence Following Anti-LGBT Demonstration, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION SECTION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS E-BRIEF, JULY 29, 2013 ISSUE NO. 533 (regular contributor 2013-2014)
  • Legal Breakthrough in Sexual Violence Protection Rights, MONDAY DEVELOPMENTS, (Mar. 2011) (regular contributor 2011-2013)
  • Bridging the Gap: Utilizing International Law to Combat Femicide in Guatemala, GUILD NOTES VOL. XXXV NO. 4, (Winter, 2010) (regular contributor 2010-2013)
  • Legacy in Action: Honoring the Life Work of Rhonda Copelon, 14 N.Y. CITY L. REV 2 (2012)
  • Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Responds to Demands for Action to End Sexual Violence in Haiti, PERIODICO AL DERECHO (Mar. 2012)
  • Preventing Torture at Home and Abroad: Utilizing General Comment 2 of the UN Convention Against Torture in the Post-Bush Era, TWELVE TEN, (Dec. 2008)
  • Julie Mertus & Lisa Davis, Women’s Connectivity Across Borders in a Time of Globalization and Democratization, in, WOMEN’S WORLDS 2005: 9TH INT’L. INTERDISC. CONGRESS ON WOMEN: REMEMBERING THE EARTH 22 (2005)



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