Founded in 1992 to advance women’s human rights by Professors Rhonda Copelon and Celina Romany, the Clinic was one of the first law school human rights clinics in the United States. Then called the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, it was a leader in global policy, advocacy, and law. In its first 20 years, the Clinic played a major role in the transformation of the international movement for gender justice.

Her work altered the bedrock of how U.S. courts treat international human rights abuses.

In 2010, the founding life force of the Clinic and an original faculty member when the law school opened in 1983, Rhonda Copeland, passed away. Her work is remembered the world over, as shared here in the New York Times.

In her 40-year career, Professor Copeland worked on cases involving gender-based violence, racial discrimination, job discrimination, and abortion rights. Central to her legacy is her work to ensure that victims of abuses in other countries may seek justice in American courts and to establish rape as a form of torture.

Working with her students, she filed amicus briefs in cases before the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia that contributed to recognition in international law of rape as a crime of genocide and torture.

The Clinic played a significant role in the Women’s Caucuses that pushed for recognition of women’s human rights at foundational international conferences in Vienna, Cairo, and Beijing in the 1990s. The Clinic’s work integrated a gender perspective into international human rights law and mechanisms, including groundbreaking work in the international criminal tribunals (ICTY, ICTR, and ICC), the U.N. Committee Against Torture, and the Inter-American human rights system.