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Gay McDougall

Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham University School of Law

Gay McDougall

Gay McDougall’s work has consistently challenged inequality.  She has worked on the fault-lines of race, gender and economic exploitation in the American context and in countries around the world. 

Gay McDougall was a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award for her work in pursuit of global human rights and in 2015 the Government of South Africa bestowed on her their national medal of honor for non-citizens, the Order of O.R.Tambo Medal for her extraordinary contributions to ending apartheid.

She currently serves as a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. She was the first UN Independent Expert on MinorityIssues and for 14 years she was executive director of Global Rights, which worked with human rights advocates in 10 countries around the world to develop their strategies for justice. Prior to that she played a special role in securing the release of thousands of political prisoners in South Africa and Namibia. She was then appointed to the electoral commission that in 1994 ran the first democratic elections in South Africa that ended apartheid and installed Nelson Mandela as president.

McDougall is a distinguished scholar in residence at Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham University School of Law. She earned a JD at Yale Law School, an LLM in public international law at the London School of Economics and Politics, and a BA in social science at Bennington College.  She has honorary Doctor of Law degrees from six universities including the University to Witwatersrand (South Africa).