Home / Media Center

Press Releases

Global Justice Center Announces Elise Keppler as Executive Director

NEW YORK — The Global Justice Center announced today that Elise Keppler has been named Executive Director of the organization following a months-long search process. Keppler is an internationally recognized international justice expert and advocate who joins the Global Justice Center after two decades with Human Rights Watch. She takes over as executive director following the departure of the Global Justice Center’s longtime leader, Akila Radhakrishnan. “The Global Justice Center is a feminist legal powerhouse that is much needed in the fight to dismantle systems of oppression and ensure respect for rights,” said Keppler. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to support the Global Justice Center’s incredible team in building on successes to date and leading the organization in its next phase of groundbreaking legal advocacy.” Keppler amassed extensive experience seeking justice for atrocity crimes — including sexual and gender-based violence — at Human Rights Watch, serving in various roles in the organization’s International Justice Program. She led efforts to advance justice through national, hybrid, and international courts, including for crimes committed in South Sudan, Sudan, Guinea, Central African Republic, and Liberia. “Elise’s trademark at Human Rights Watch was to build broad alliances among civil society groups to push back against governmental efforts to undermine international justice,” said Ken Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch from 1993 to 2022 and visiting professor, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. “Autocrats pretended that they stood up for the people in opposing justice efforts, but Elise showed that it was more a quest to avoid accountability. Elise brought strategic creativity to the task,  which I am sure will be an asset in her leadership at the Global Justice Center.” During her tenure with the International Justice Program, Keppler led a multiyear campaign to secure the surrender of former Liberian president Charles Taylor to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. She also led the organization’s effort to counter backlash against the International Criminal Court in Africa, which mobilized international policymakers and local civil society to champion the court while acknowledging needed improvements. Since 2020, Keppler also served half-time in Human Rights Watch’s General Counsel Office, where she worked to assess and mitigate risk for the organization in carrying out its mandate. “In a global landscape where impunity is too often unchallenged, Elise’s work to strengthen access to justice for survivors of atrocities, including sexual violence, is inspiring,” said Gretchen Freeman Cappio, board chair of the Global Justice Center. “We are honored to welcome her to the Global Justice Center team and are certain her expertise and strategic vision will usher in a bold new era building on the many past successes of the organization.” The Global Justice Center works to ensure a gender-equal world where every person lives free from violence, has full bodily autonomy, and has the power to access justice to protect and promote their human rights. Since its founding in 2005, the Global Justice Center has carried out this mission through efforts to deliver international justice for gender-based crimes, to enshrine universal abortion access as a human right, and to embed feminist values in international institutions like the United Nations. “The work of the Global Justice Center is more vital than ever, and I’m confident that Elise is the perfect person to lead it through the next stage of its trailblazing feminist journey,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, former executive director of the Global Justice Center. “Whether it’s through her bold campaigns to demand justice for atrocity crimes like gender-based violence or the lasting partnerships she built with grassroots activists, Elise has the experience and skills that the Global Justice Center — and the global human rights movement — needs right now.” In addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a law degree from the University of California Berkeley, Keppler was a visiting scholar at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law in 2012. Her writing and commentary can be seen in the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, and more.
Read more

Global Justice Center Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Helms Amendment

Helms Amendment
Reproductive Rights
United States
US Abortion Laws
On Sunday, the Global Justice Center will mark 50 years since the passage of the Helms Amendment, a United States foreign policy that restricts the funding of abortion services abroad. The amendment was passed on December 17, 1973 — just months after Roe v. Wade was decided by the United States Supreme Court. Despite the language of the amendment only prohibiting US foreign aid funding of abortion as a “method of family planning,” Helms has been implemented as a total ban on abortion services. Reproductive rights activists have long urged US presidents to take executive action clarifying that Helms allows funding of abortion care abroad in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the pregnant person, including in humanitarian settings. According to a Guttmacher Institute analysis, there could be approximately 19 million fewer unsafe abortions and 17,000 fewer maternal deaths each year if Helms were repealed. Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement: “Five decades of death is the only way to summarize the legacy of the Helms Amendment. It is a primary cause of countless maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions around the world. It has fueled the destruction of critical healthcare networks as providers have been forced to make an untenable decision between losing essential funding or offering comprehensive medical care. Helms is nothing short of a human rights catastrophe that 10 presidential administrations have allowed to fester. “Let’s be clear: the Helms Amendment is a violation of the human rights to health, life, non-discrimination, freedom from torture, and more. The denial of abortion as such has been recognized by everyone from medical experts to international human rights bodies. Yet, five decades later, Helms and its legacy of immense harm is ignored by US politicians, including those who claim to support reproductive rights. “The Helms Amendment is the foundation of all abortion restrictions in US foreign policy, including the Global Gag Rule. Limiting its harmful impact — and ultimately, its repeal — must be a top priority for both the US reproductive rights movement and any lawmakers who are serious about positioning the United States as a leader on human rights. Because as long as Helms remains in place, the United States should be seen as a pariah state when it comes to reproductive rights.”
Read more

Joint Statement — 2023 Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Law
Joint Statement by Global Justice Center and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice Your excellencies, dear colleagues, dear friends, Understanding gender justice in international criminal law is a fast and ever evolving field. It begins by seeing that gender justice has always been broader than accountability for sexual violence. We must be alert to the gendered impact of all Rome Statute crimes, strive for gender equality in peacetime as well as armed conflict, and listen closely to what justice means for women and other marginalised groups. Indeed, it must embrace a broader understanding that goes beyond the binary concepts that underpin our shared harmful traditions in ICL. A broader understanding of gender justice is becoming well anchored in the work of the policy, jurisprudential, and institutional developments at the ICC and in the Feminist Foreign Policy considerations that an increasing amount of you, states parties, are bringing to the ASP. These developments are particularly evidenced at this ASP session, where there is one or more gender justice side-events scheduled each day. Read full statement
Read more


flyer promoting event,

Towards a Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity: Scope, Definitions, National Measures, and Safeguards

Link to event agenda

Session 2: Definitions and General Obligations (Articles 2, 3, 4) Moderator

Leila Sadat (James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, Director, Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, Washington University School of Law)

Panelists Sérgio Carvalho (Legal Adviser, Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN) Richard Dicker (Human Rights Watch) Paloma van Groll (Legal Advisor, Global Justice Center) Patricia Sellers (Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford)
a picture features panelists from a

Beyond Borders Conference: Reflections on the ICCPR Civil Society Consultation

flyer promoting event,

Human Rights Promoter or Pariah: The United States Record on Abortion


On December 10, the world will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which forever enshrined the rights to life, health, bodily integrity, non-discrimination, sexual and reproductive rights, and more. Just a week later, reproductive rights activists in the United States will mark 50 years since the passage of the Helms Amendment, a disastrous US foreign policy that has restricted essential abortion care and decimated health networks worldwide. All the while post-Roe v. Wade abortion bans wreak havoc across the country. Join us for a timely and compelling conversation about how the US has fallen behind and fallen down on protecting people’s human rights, particularly to abortion and bodily autonomy.


Sian Norris, Investigative Journalist


Anu Kumar, President & CEO, Ipas

Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center

Payal Shah, Director, Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, Physicians for Human Rights

Jean-Claude Mulunda, Director, Ipas Democratic Republic of Congo


Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with Global Justice Center’s latest events and advocacy updates

    Media Inquiries
    For more information, to interview one of our experts, or for other media inquiries, please contact:
    Thomas Dresslar
    Communications Manager

    Please note that this address is intended solely for reporters, news producers, and other media professionals working on news programs or stories. For other inquiries, contact