Douglass Cassel

Douglass Cassel

Notre Dame Presidential Fellow
Professor Emeritus of Law

Office: 2155 Eck Hall of Law
Phone: 574-631-7895
Fax: 574-631-4197
Staff Assistant: Debbie Sumption
CV: View

Douglass Cassel is a scholar, practitioner and commentator on international human rights law, specializing in issues of business and human rights, regional human rights systems, and international criminal and humanitarian law. His scholarly articles in English and Spanish are published in the United States, Latin America and Europe, and he lectures at universities and conferences worldwide. On behalf of retired United States diplomats, and leading experts on international law, he has filed several amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court involving the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo and accountability for human rights violations under the Alien Tort Claims Act. He has represented victims of human rights violations in Colombia, Guatemala, Peru and Venezuela, and appeared as an expert witness, in cases before the Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Cassel has served as Legal Advisor to the United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador; Executive Council member of the American Society of International Law; co-chair of the International Committee of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Chair of the Independent International Panel on Alleged Collusion in Sectarian Killings in Northern Ireland; and consultant to the Department of State, Department of Justice, Ford Foundation, the President of the American Bar Association, and non-governmental human rights organizations. In 2000, 2003 and 2012, he was nominated by the US Government and elected by the Organization of American States to four-year terms on the Board of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, of which he was elected President during 2002-04 and again in 2014. He served as President of the Due Process of Law Foundation ("DPLF"), based in Washington, D.C., from 2000 to 2012.

Cassel is also an award-winning commentator. Until 2012 his regular commentaries on human rights were broadcast on Chicago Public Radio and published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. His commentaries have also appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Christian Century, and other publications.

Cassel earned a B.A. cum laude from Yale in 1969 and a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1972. After serving for three years as a Lieutenant in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, he practiced law for 16 years as staff counsel and later General Counsel of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest in Chicago, where he handled test cases and class actions involving civil rights, civil liberties, consumer and environmental law.

After visiting at Notre Dame in 2002, Cassel joined the faculty in 2005, and served as director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights form 2005-2012. He previously directed human rights centers at DePaul College of Law and Northwestern University School of Law. He retired from the Law School in June 2018.

His current research interests include the human rights responsibilities of transnational corporations, strengthening of regional human rights institutions, accountability for gross violations of human rights, international law options for combating terrorism, and the history of human rights.

Courses Taught

  • LAW70409, Accountability for Gross Violations Human Rights
  • LAW70443, Transnational Corporations & Human Rights
  • LAW70421, Regional Protection of Human Rights Seminar
  • LAW70417, Universal Protection of Human Rights
  • LAW70401, Public International Law
  • LAW70411, International Criminal Justice, Human Rights & Humanitarian Law
  • LAW88700, LLM Thesis In Notre Dame London Summer Programme: Public International Law English Legal History


(For full list see Prof. Cassel's CV)


  • Suing Americans for Human Rights Torts Overseas: The Supreme Court Leaves the Door Open, 89 NOTRE DAME LAW REVIEW 1773-1812 (2014).
  • Garry Wills on Providence, Peace and Presidential Powers, in Kenneth L. Vaux and Melanie Baffes, eds., NATION AND WORLD, CHURCH AND GOD: THE LEGACY OF GARRY WILLS (Northwestern University Press, 2014), pp. 203-217.
  • Regional Human Rights Systems and State Pushback: The Case of the Inter-American Human Rights System (2011-2013), 33 HUMAN RIGHTS LAW JOURNAL 1-10 (30 August 2013).
  • El Alcance e Impacto Cada Vez Mayores de las Reparaciones Ordenadas por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, in LA JUSTICIA CONSTITUCIONAL Y SU INTERNACIONALIZACIÓN. ¿HACIA UN IUS CONSTITUTIONALE COMMUNE EN AMÉRICA LATINA?, Tomo II, pp. 215-47, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law and Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la Universidad Autónoma de México, eds., (2010).
  • International Human Rights Law and Security Detention, 40 Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law 383 (2009).
  • Empresas Multinacionales y Complicidad en Violaciones de los Derechos Humanos: Confusión Judicial Estadounidense, en la revista DERECHO PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA DEL PERÚ (2009) (updated version in Spanish of Corporate Aiding and Abetting of Human Rights Violations: Confusion in the Courts, 6 NW. U. J. INT’L HUM. RTS. 304 (2008)).
  • Honduras: Coup d’Etat in Constitutional Clothing?, ASIL INSIGHT, American Society of International Law, July 29, 2009. Spanish language version: Honduras: ¿Golpe de Estado en Vestido Constitucional?
  • International Human Rights Law and Security Detention, 40 CASE WESTERN RESERVE JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 383-401 (2009).
  • Pretrial and Preventive Detention of Suspected Terrorists: Options and Constraints under International Law, 98 JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY 811-52 (2008) (published by Northwestern University School of Law).
  • Corporate Aiding and Abetting of Human Rights Violations: Confusion in the Courts, 6 NORTHWESTERN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS 304-26 (2008).
  • Transnational Corporate Accountability and the Rule of Law (co-authored with Sean O'Brien), in Oliver Williams, ed., PEACE THROUGH COMMERCE (2008), pp. 77-95.
  • Liberty, Judicial Review and the Rule of Law at Guantanamo: A Battle Half Won, 43 NEW ENGLAND LAW REVIEW 37-59 (2008).
  • La Justicia Frente a los Actos Terroristas, in J. Arjona and C. Hardaga, eds., TERRORISMO Y DERECHOS HUMANOS 95-106 (Universidad Iberoamericana, México) (2008).
  • Los Juicios Militares en Estados Unidos a la Luz del Derecho Comparado, in PANORAMA INTERNACIONAL SOBRE JUSTICIA PENAL: PROCESO PENAL Y JUSTICIA PENAL INTERNACIONAL, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurí¬dicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2007, pp. 17-23.
  • Las Mejores Prácticas para el Procesamiento Judicial de las Violaciones de Derechos Humanos, in LOS CAMINOS DE LA JUSTICIA PENAL Y LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS 167-74, Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2007.
  • La responsabilidad penal de los superiores por los crímenes de guerra cometidos por sus subordinados: omisión y negligencia, LA ADECUACION DEL DERECHO PENAL NACIONAL A LOS TRATADOS DE DERECHO INTERNACIONAL HUMANITARIO, Memoria, Ciudad de México, Reunión Regional, 7 al 8 de diciembre de 2004, pp. 146-52 (International Committee of the Red Cross, 2007).
  • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in VICTIMS UNSILENCED: THE INTER-AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM AND TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE IN LATIN AMERICA, Due Process of Law Foundation (2007), pp. 151-66.
  • Human Rights and Human Responsibilities, in FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES (S. Parmentier and H. Werdmolder, eds.), Intersentia (forthcoming 2008).
  • Defending Human Rights in the "War" Against Terror, 4 REGENT JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 223 (2006).
  • Equal Labor Rights for Undocumented Migrant Workers, in HUMAN RIGHTS AND REFUGEES, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND MIGRANT WORKERS: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF JOAN FITZPATRICK AND ARTHUR HELTON, Anne Bayefsky ed. (Martinus Nijhoff 2006), pp. 477-516.
  • The Expanding Scope and Impact of Reparations Awarded by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in OUT OF THE ASHES: REPARATIONS FOR GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, K. De Feyter, S. Parmentier, M. Bossuyt and P. Lemmens eds. (Intersentia 2005), pp. 191-223.
  • The Globalization of Human Rights: Consciousness, Law and Reality, 2 NORTHWESTERN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS 6 (2004).
  • Does International Human Rights Law Make a Difference?, 2 CHICAGO JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 121-35 (2001).

Areas of Expertise

  • International Criminal Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Human Rights Law