Beth  Stephens

Beth Stephens

Professor of Law

Contact Information

Law Office: E426
V: (856) 225-6384
F: (856) 969-7936

Areas of Expertise

Courses Recently Taught


Professor Stephens has published a variety of articles on the relationship between international and domestic law, focusing on the enforcement of international human rights norms through domestic courts. She co-authored a book analyzing U.S. enforcement of human rights norms, International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2d ed. 2008).

From 1990-1995, she was in charge of the international human rights docket at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, where she litigated a series of cases addressing human rights violations in countries around the world, including Bosnia, Guatemala, Haiti, East Timor and Ethiopia. In 1995, Prof. Stephens received the Trial Lawyers of the Year Award from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice in recognition of her work litigating international human rights claims. She was a finalist for the same award in 2001 and 2010. As a cooperating attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Justice and Accountability, Prof. Stephens continues to litigate human rights cases, including cases filed against U.S.-based corporations alleging responsibility for human rights violations committed in the course of their activities abroad. She was co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Samantar v. Yousuf, a human rights case decided by the Supreme Court in May 2010, in which the Court ruled 9-0 for her clients.

Professor Stephens graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, received her J.D. degree from the law school of the University of California at Berkeley, and clerked for Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court. She spent six years studying the changing the legal system in Nicaragua in the 1980s.


International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts (co-author) (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2d ed. 2008)

Articles/Book Chapters
The Alien Tort Statute, Kiobel, and the Struggle for Human Rights Accountability
, in Clarkschrift: Essays in Honour of Roger Clark (William Schabas, et al., eds. forthcoming 2015)

State Law Claims: The Next Phase of Human Rights Litigation (Remarks), __  Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Proc. __ (forthcoming 2015)

The Curious History of the Alien Tort Statute, 89 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1467 (2014)

Suing for Torture, in International Litigation Strategies and Practice (Barton Legum, et al., eds. 2d ed. 2014)

Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts: From 1789 to the Present, in Corporate Responsibility for Human Rights Impacts: New Expectations and Paradigms (Lara Blecher, et al., eds. 2014)

Are Corporations People? Corporate Personhood Under the Constitution and International Law, 44 Rutgers L.J. 1 (2013)

Extraterritoriality and Human Rights After Kiobel, 28 Md. J. Int’l L. 256 (2013)

International Human Rights Cases Under State Law and in State Courts, 3 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 9 (2013) (with Paul Hoffman)

Abusing the Authority of the State:  Denying Foreign Official Immunity for Egregious Human Rights Abuses, 44 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 1163 (2011)

The Modern Common Law of Foreign Official Immunity, 79 Fordham L. Rev. 2669 (2011)

Human Rights and National Courts, in Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2009)

Seeking Remedies for Gender Violence and Other Human Rights Abuses Through Civil Litigation, Hague Joint Conf. on Contemporary Issues of Int’l Law (2009)

The Story of Doe v. Unocal, in Human Rights Advocacy Stories (D. Hurwitz et al., eds. Foundation Press 2009) (with K. Redford)

Judicial Deference and the Unreasonable Views of the Bush Administration, 33 Brook. J. Int’l L. 773 (2008)

Corporate Accountability for Gross Violations of Human Rights (expert paper prepared for the International Commission of Jurists, Panel on Corporate Complicity) (2007)

Filartiga v. Pena-Irala: From Family Tragedy to Human Rights Accountability, 37 Rutgers L.J. 623 (2006)

The Alien Tort Claims Act, in Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (Dinah Shelton, ed. 2005).

Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain: The Door Is Still Ajar for Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts, 70 Brook. L. Rev. 533 (2004-2005)

Upsetting Checks and Balances: The Bush Administration's Flawed Efforts to Limit Human Rights Litigation, 17 Harv. Human Rts. J. 169 (2004)

Accountability for International Crimes: The Synergy Between the International Criminal Court and Alternative Remedies, 21 Wisc. Int'l L.J. 527 (2003)

Individuals Enforcing International Human Rights Law: The Comparative and Historical Context, 52 DePaul Law Review 433 (2002)

Accountability Without Hypocrisy: Consistent Standards, Honest History, 36 New Eng. L. Rev. 919 (2002)

Translating Filartiga: A Comparative and International Law Analysis Of Domestic Remedies For International Human Rights Violations, 27 Yale J. Int'l L. 1 (2002)

The Amorality of Profit: Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, 22 Berkeley J. Int'l L. 45 (2002)

Corporate Liability: Enforcing Human Rights Through Domestic Litigation, 24 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 401 (2002)

Taking Pride in International Human Rights Litigation, 2 Chi. J. Int'l L. 485 (2001)

Book Review and Note: Remedies in International Human Rights Law, by Dinah Shelton, 95 Am. J. Int'l L. 257 (2001)

Federalism and Foreign Affairs: Congress Power to 'Define and Punish . . . Offenses Against the Law of Nations,' 42 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 447 (2000)

Human Rights Accountability: Congress, Federalism and International Law, 6 ILSA J. Int'l & Comp. L. 277 (2000)

Corporate Accountability in U.S. Courts for International Human Rights Abuses, in Liability of Multinational Corporations Under International Law 209 (Menno Kamminga & Sam Zia-Zarifi eds., Kluwer Press 2000)

Humanitarian Law and Gender Violence: An End to Centuries of Neglect?, 3 Hofstra L. & Poly Symp. 801 (1999)

The Law of Our Land: Customary International Law as Federal Law After Erie, 66 Fordham L. Rev. 393 (1997)

Expanding Remedies for Human Rights Abuses: Civil Litigation in Domestic Courts, 40 German Y.B. Int'l L. 117 (1997), reprinted in 2 Women and International Human Rights Law (Kelly D. Askin & Dorean M. Koenig eds., 2000)

Conceptualizing Violence Under International Law: Do Tort Remedies Fit the Crime?, 3 Albany L. Rev. 579 (1997)

Litigating Customary International Human Rights Norms, 25 Ga. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 191 (1995/96)

The Civil Lawsuit as a Remedy for International Human Rights Violations Against Women, 5 Hastings Womens L.J. 143 (1994)

Affecting the Rules for Prosecution of Rape and Other Gender-Based Violence Before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia: A Feminist Proposal and Critique, 5 Hastings Womens L.J. 171 (1994), with J. Green, et al.

A Developing Legal System Grapples with an Ancient Problem: Rape in Nicaragua, 12 Womens Rts. L. Rep. 69 (1990)

Changes in the Laws Governing the Parent-Child Relationship in Revolutionary Nicaragua, 12 Hastings Intl & Comp. L. Rev. 137 (1989)

Women and the Atrocities of War, 20 Human Rts. 12 (1993)

Women in Nicaragua, 40 Monthly Review 1 (Sept. 1988)

Miscellaneous Publications
Seeking Remedies for Gender Violence and Other Human Rights Abuses Through Civil Litigation (Remarks), Hague Joint Conf. on Contemporary Issues of Int'l Law ( 2007)

Sosa, Federal Common Law and Customary International Law: Reaffirming the Federal Courts' Powers (Remarks), 101 Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Proc. 51 ( 2007)

Civil Litigation in U.S. Courts, Juriste Internacionale (2006)

Accountability for Corporate Abuses (Remarks), 56 Rutgers L. Rev. 101 (2005)

The Alien Tort Claims Act Under Attack (Remarks), 98 Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Proc. 51 (2004)

Alien Tort Claims and Business Liability (Remarks), 95 Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Proc. 42 (2001)

Scholars in the Construction and Critique of International Law (Remarks), 94 Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Proc. 317 (2000)

Suing for Genocide in the United States: The Case of Jane Doe v. Radovan Karadzic, in War Crimes: The Legacy of Nuremberg (Belinda Cooper ed., 1999), with J. Green

Civil Remedies in the United States for International Human Rights Abuses (Remarks), Fourth Hague Joint Conf. Am. Society Int'l L. & Netherlands Society Int'l L. (July 3-5, 1997)

Seeking Recourse for Human Rights Violations in Domestic Courts, 10 Interights Bull. 108 (1996), with J. Green

Tyrants, Terrorists and Torturers Brought to Justice, N.Y.L.J., May 15, 1995 at S5 (Int'l Law Supplement), with M. Ratner

Using Law and the Filartiga Principle in the Fight for Human Rights, 2 ACLU Int'l Civil Liberties Rep. 29 (1993), with M. Ratner

Hypocrisy on Rights, The N.Y. Times (Op-Ed), June 24, 1993, A23

Know Your Rights (1980), legal handbook for San Francisco jail inmates

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