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James Cavallaro
Professor of Law, Director of Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and Director of Stanford Human Rights Center


Professor James Cavallaro, the founding director of Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, has dedicated his career to human rights—in both his scholarly research and his legal practice. His extensive expertise is derived from active involvement in the defense of rights, in the development of international human rights law and the human rights movement, in work involving human rights issues in Latin America and the developing world, and in international human rights litigation, with emphasis in the Inter-American and United Nations systems. Professor Cavallaro is a prolific scholar and sought-after voice on international human rights issues, and is frequently called upon to offer his expertise by the media and civil society. In June of 2013 Professor Cavallaro was elected to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Antigua, Guatemala. The IACHR was created in 1959 and is a principal and autonomous organ of the OAS whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity.

Early in his career, Professor Cavallaro spent several years working with Central American refugees on the U.S.-Mexico border and with rights groups in Chile challenging abuses by the Pinochet government. In 1994, he opened a joint office for Human Rights Watch and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in Rio de Janeiro and served as director of the office, overseeing research, reporting and litigation against Brazil before the Inter-American system’s human rights bodies. In 1999, he founded the Global Justice Center, which is now a leading Brazilian human rights nongovernmental organization. He then joined the academy, holding positions at Harvard Law School, most recently as clinical professor of law and executive director of the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program. He joined Stanford Law School’s faculty in 2011.

Professor Cavallaro received his BA from Harvard University and his JD from University of California at Berkeley School of Law, where he served on the California Law Review and graduated with Order of the Coif honors. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Dolores K. Sloviter of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1993-1994).

Professor Cavallaro is the author of several books, reports and articles on human rights issues. Among his recent scholarly works are: Reevaluating Regional Human Rights Litigation in the Twenty-First Century: the Case of the Inter-American Court (2008); Looking Backward to Address the Future?: Transitional Justice, Rising Crime and Nation-Building (2008); and Never Again?: The Legacy of the Argentine and Chilean Dictatorships for the Global Human Rights Regime (2008).

Subject Areas for Accepting Press Inquiries

  • Human Rights Issues in Latin America
  • Inter-American Human Rights System
  • International Human Rights Law and Practice
  • The Human Rights Movement