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