Diane Desierto, an expert in human rights and international law, joined Notre Dame Law School in January 2021 as professor of law and faculty director for the Law School’s LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law. More than 400 lawyers from over 100 countries have graduated from the program where they specialize in the study and research of human rights issues with faculty who are specialists in the field of international human rights law.
“Diane Desierto represents the global reach of Notre Dame Law School’s Catholic mission,” said G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. “She brings unparalleled international legal expertise to issues of human rights and the plight of the world’s poor. Her relationships with international courts, the United Nations, and other global institutions provide both Notre Dame and the world with real leadership with respect to human rights.”
Desierto teaches and researches in the areas of international law and human rights, international economic law, international arbitration, maritime security, comparative public law, and the regional law of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Her influence as an international expert is immense. She is a member of the Expert Group of the United Nations Working Group on the Right to Development, legal expert for ASEAN and the Asian Development Bank, president of the Friends of the Hague Academy Foundation, arbitrator at the British Virgin Islands Arbitration Centre, and expert amicus in complex international disputes. Additionally, she serves as the Philippines Focal Point for the International Criminal Court Bar Association. She is active as international counsel, successfully litigating at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands, International Criminal Court, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and the Supreme Court of the Philippines. She is a member of editorial boards of the European Journal of International Law, Journal of World Investment and Trade, International Law Studies, Wolters Kluwer International Law monograph series, and several Asian law journals.
“Notre Dame Law School’s mission of educating a different kind of lawyer to defend human dignity and the common good as part of the University’s broader Catholic mission, is exactly the principled voice that the international system needs at this time of resurgent authoritarianism and the ubiquitous normalization of human rights violations around the world,” Desierto said. “I am grateful to join the law faculty in their urgent mission, and to support future generations of the world’s human rights defenders through Notre Dame’s globally renowned LL.M. program in human rights.”
Desierto holds a joint appointment of professor of global affairs in the Keough School for Global Affairs, and is also professor of international law and human rights at the Philippine Supreme Court's Philippine Judicial Academy.
She has already made an impact at Notre Dame during her brief time at the University.
She is the co-leader of the Notre Dame Reparations Design and Compliance Lab, which develops and tests methodologies to assess state compliance with reparative orders of international adjudication bodies, such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the World Bank Inspection Panel. In addition, she is part of a new Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights initiative with UN Water and Latin America partners ICDGE and REPAM, providing collaborative training for government regulators and private sector water providers on how to develop sustainable water resource policies in the Amazon. The training was part of Desierto’s spring 2021 course in economic, social, and cultural rights that exposed Notre Dame Law students to law and regulatory policy planning with water sector practitioners in Latin America.
Before coming to Notre Dame, Desierto taught at the University of the Philippines, Peking University School of Transnational Law in China, and the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law.
She holds J.S.D. and LL.M. degrees from Yale Law School. She earned her J.D. cum laude and undergraduate economics degree summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines.
Read more about Desierto and her work in the University of Notre Dame’s 2020 Women Lead feature.