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Gay McDougall

Gay J. McDougall (born August 13, 1947 in Global Rights, Partners for Justice (from September 1994 to 2006). In August 2005, she was named the first United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues, serving until 2011.[1]


  • Early years 1
  • Private law career 2
  • Non-profit career 3
  • Education 4
  • Other positions 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early years

As a child, Gay McDougall was banned from many public places in Atlanta. When she finished high school, McDougall was chosen to be the first black student to integrate Agnes Scott College in

  • Interview with Gay McDougall on the African Activist Archive Project website
  • Global Rights website
  • Institute for Policy Studies/Senior Scholars
  • American University, Washington D.C. website/McDougall bio
  • Law Crossing
  • African National Congress speech
  • Leitner Center for International Law and Justice

External links

  1. ^ Website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, accessed 16 November 2009
  2. ^ "National Human Rights Depend on International Action, Says U.N. Expert", accessed 16 November 2009
  3. ^ "National Human Rights Depend on International Action, Says U.N. Expert", accessed 16 November 2009


Other positions

Gay McDougall earned her JD at Yale Law School and her LLM in public international law at the London School of Economics and Politics. She earned her BA in social science from Bennington College in Bennington, VT.


In 1989, McDougall founded the Commission on Independence for Namibia, a bipartisan group of 31 distinguished Americans who monitored in detail the year-long process to independence mandated by the U.N. The Commission intervened to force modifications in critical legislation, such as the voter registration and election laws, which as drafted, threatened the fairness of the election process.

Prior to joining Global Rights, Gay McDougall served as one of five international members of apartheid era, she was director of the Southern African Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law from 1980 until early 1994 and gave direct assistance to the defense of thousands of political prisoners in South Africa and Namibia by financing the defense and collaborating with attorneys.

She also served as Special Rapporteur on the issue of systematic rape, sexual slavery, and slavery-like practices in armed conflict, in which capacity she presented a study to the United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights that called for international legal standards for prosecuting acts of systematic rape and sexual slavery committed during armed conflict. As Special Rapporteur she also toured Sierra Leone with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to assess the devastating impact the civil war had on civilian populations.

McDougall was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1999 for her "innovative and highly effective" work on behalf of international human rights. In 1998, she was elected to serve as an independent expert on the United Nations treaty body that oversees the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). She was the first American to be elected to the body of 18 international experts who oversee compliance by governments worldwide with the obligations established under the treaty.[3] At its 1996 session, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights elected her to serve a four year term as a member (alternate) of the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the Human Rights commission.

Non-profit career

After graduating from Yale Law School, she joined the New York City corporate law firm of Debevoise, Plimpton, Lyons & Gates.

Private law career


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