Smiling woman (Courtesy of Sarah H. Cleveland)
Sarah H. Cleveland has been nominated for election to the International Court of Justice. (Courtesy of Sarah H. Cleveland)

Sarah H. Cleveland, the U.S. National Group’s nominee for the International Court of Justice, brings a lifetime of experience as a scholar, a practitioner of international law and a diplomat.

If elected to serve as a judge, “I would be dedicated to preserving the integrity and authority of the court and securing the faithful interpretation of international law,” says Cleveland.

She would also make history as only the sixth female judge elected to the court.

Cleveland has taught human and constitutional rights at Columbia University Law School since 2007. Her professional life has been spent defending the integrity of international law and strengthening the effectiveness of the international legal system.

Woman smiling while standing behind desk (Courtesy of Sarah H. Cleveland)
Professor Sarah Cleveland teaches at Columbia University Law School. (Courtesy of Sarah H. Cleveland)

She served as a member of the Ad Hoc Conciliation Commission for Qatar v. United Arab Emirates in the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The commission, established to help resolve the interstate dispute, concluded its work in early 2023.

Cleveland previously served as vice chair and member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee (2015–2018) and as the U.S. member of the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission) of the Council of Europe (2013–2019).

Before that, she worked as counselor on international law in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser (2009–2011). In that position, she guided the office’s work on international law interpretation and compliance.

In addition to teaching, Cleveland serves as a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law. She is a council member of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and a commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists.

Cleveland’s life work has given her a deep understanding of how member states and international institutions engage with international law and the challenges they face.

The United Nations General Assembly and Security Council will vote on Cleveland’s candidacy this fall in New York. If she is elected to the court, Cleveland will serve a nine-year term.

“Professor Cleveland has been an excellent ambassador for International Law and possesses the strength, commitment, and vision to help guide the court in its important work in the years ahead,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.