Carmen Mestizo-Castillo, SJD candidate, is an experienced civil and human rights lawyer, who additionally possesses an interdisciplinary approach to legal institutions, informed by her MA in History. Her career has been especially focused on women’s rights and indigenous peoples’ rights. She is a former professor of practice at the law school of Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where she directed a law clinic on the rights of the victims of the Colombian Armed Conflict. Her ten years of experience as a legal practitioner in Colombia include not only domestic litigation but also legal actions before the Interamerican System of Human Rights. Additionally, Mestizo-Castillo was the senior litigator in a case that obtained a landmark decision from the Constitutional Court of Colombia, related to procedural protection of the victims of sexual crimes; this is the Sentence T-453 of 2005, which established similar standards to the USA’s “rape shield law”.
Her knowledge and experiences on human rights issues in Latin America allow her students to obtain a global perspective on the topic. For instance, Mestizo-Castillo is a former member of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM in Spanish), which is one of the most important feminist networks in the region. As a member of this committee, she researched, taught workshops, and provided legal advice. Additionally, she participated as a legal expert in international forums.
Her studies in the USA have deepened her international perspective on human rights. During her LLM (Master of Laws) in International Legal Studies at American University Washington College of Law, she obtained a double specialization in International Human Rights Law and Gender. Mestizo-Castillo is currently pursuing an SJD (Doctor of Laws) in the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program (IPLP) at the University of Arizona. During her SJD, she has been awarded renowned annual fellowships, such as the International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Margaret McNamara Education Grant (MMEG). Her dissertation studies the contributions of the international indigenous movement to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Lawyer, M.A. in History, LLM in International Legal Studies, SJD (Doctor of Laws) candidate