Professor Laurence R. Helfer
U.S. Candidate to the Human Rights Committee, 2023-2026
Professor Helfer is a distinguished professor of international law at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He is an expert in international human rights law and institutions, including UN human rights treaty bodies and the design and effectiveness of international and regional human rights courts. He is co-director of Duke’s Center for International and Comparative Law and recently served as co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of International Law. His dedication to and advocacy for international human rights law make him a highly-qualified candidate.
Why the Human Rights Committee is Important to the United States
The United States values the critical work of the Human Rights Committee and believes civil and political rights are an integral part of the international human rights framework. The Human Rights Committee monitors and advises States Parties on their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the United States is a party. The ICCPR is the preeminent international agreement protecting universally recognized civil and political liberties. It also contributes to the broader goals of the UN and regional human rights systems: enhancing compliance with the rights and freedoms enshrined in treaties and customary international law and providing redress to those whose rights have been violated. Supporting Professor Helfer, like other endorsements of highly-qualified U.S. candidates for independent expert bodies, signals strong U.S. support for human rights and engagement with multilateral institutions. The nomination of independent experts like Professor Helfer reflects U.S. commitment to the rule of law and the importance the United States places in addressing the multitude of challenges facing our world today.
Professor Helfer’s Priorities
If elected to the Human Rights Committee for the 2023-2026 term, Professor Helfer intends to prioritize:
- Promoting a dialogue with States parties to identify issues of concern, improve compliance and guard against backsliding.
- Reinforcing civil and political rights by situating the interpretation of the ICCPR in relation to other human rights treaties.
- Encouraging institutional reforms to enhance the effectiveness of the Committee’s work, including streamlining procedures and enhancing synergies among the Committee’s primary activities.
Professor Helfer’s Professional Experience
Professor Helfer currently teaches several international law and human rights courses at Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina, where he co-directs Duke’s Center for International and Comparative Law. He is also a permanent visiting professor at iCourts: Centre of Excellence for International Courts at the University of Copenhagen. Professor Helfer is the author, coauthor or editor of six books more than 100 journal articles and other publications on international law, international human rights, international courts, international organizations, and international law in U.S. courts.
- Duke University School of Law
Harry R. Chadwick, Sr. Professor of Law (2009-Present)
Co-director, Center for International and Comparative Law (2009-Present)
- Permanent Visiting Professor iCourts: Danish National Research Foundation Center of Excellence for International Courts, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law (2015-Present)
Other Relevant Professional Experience
- Member, Advisory Committee on International Law, U.S. Department of State (2021-Present)
- Co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of International Law (2018-2022)
- Honorary Doctorate in Law, University of Copenhagen (2014)
- Panelist, Violence and Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, UN Human Rights Council (March 2012)
- Haiti Violence Against Women Legislative Drafting Project, Clifford Chance Foundation (2010)