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Susan Farbstein’s current work focuses on Southern Africa, transitional justice, Alien Tort Statute litigation, community lawyering, and economic, social, and cultural rights. She is an expert on South Africa, having worked on a variety of human rights and transitional justice issues in that country for nearly fifteen years. Her writing has been published in scholarly journals including the Harvard Law Review and the Harvard International Law Journal, as well as more popular outlets including The New York Times and SCOTUSBlog.
Farbstein is co-counsel in In re South African Apartheid Litigation, a suit against major multinational corporations for aiding and abetting human rights violations committed by the apartheid state. She is also co-counsel in Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada, which brings claims against the former Bolivian president and defense minister related to a 2003 civilian massacre. She participated in litigating Wiwa v. Shell, which charged Shell with complicity in the torture and killing of non-violent Nigerian activists in the mid-1990s and successfully settled in 2009. For her work as a member of the Wiwa legal team, Farbstein was honored as finalist for the 2010 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. She has authored numerous amicus curiae briefs, including to the Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (on behalf of legal history scholars), Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman (on behalf of international law scholars), and Samantar v. Yousuf (on behalf of human rights organizations).
Over the past fifteen years, Farbstein has engaged on a range of transitional justice issues in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Myanmar, Thailand, and Argentina. Her recent work focuses on questions of accountability for apartheid-era abuses in South Africa; efforts to advance the right to equitable, quality education guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution; the promotion and protection of economic, social, and cultural rights in Zimbabwe; and policy reform to improve civilian protection and change military behavior in Myanmar.
Farbstein has a strong interest in clinical pedagogy and, in 2011-2012, was a recipient of the Harvard President’s Innovation Fund for Faculty Grant for her creative clinical teaching. Building on this interest, she has developed and is currently implementing a training and exchange program on clinical pedagogy with practitioners and academics in South Africa. She actively supports and mentors students pursuing human rights careers, including by serving as an attorney advisor for the law school’s Office of Public Interest Advising.
Before joining the Harvard Law School faculty, Farbstein worked at the Cape Town office of the International Center for Transitional Justice. Prior to that, she clerked for the Honorable Morris E. Lasker of the Southern District of New York. She holds a B.A. from Princeton University, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Assistant: Katherine Talbot
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