Karima Bennoune specializes in public international law and international human rights law, including issues related to culture, extremism and terrorism, and women’s human rights.

Bennoune served as the UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights from 2015 to 2021. She also was appointed as an expert for the International Criminal Court in 2017 during the reparations phase of the groundbreaking case The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, which concerned intentional destruction of cultural heritage sites in Mali. 

Since 2018, she has been a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law (AJIL), and in 2021 she also joined the editorial team of AJIL Unbound, the journal’s electronic publication. A former legal adviser for Amnesty International, she has carried out human rights missions in most regions of the world.

From 2012 to 2022, Bennoune served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis School of Law, becoming the Homer G. Angelo and Ann Berryhill Endowed Chair in International Law and a Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law. Previously, she taught at the Rutgers School of Law-Newark, where she was professor of law and the Arthur L. Dickson Scholar. She received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award.

Her courses have included International Law; International Protection of Human Rights; Terrorism and International Law; The Impact of 9/11 on International Law; Transnational Law; Women’s Human Rights; Gender, Sexuality, and International Human Rights Law; the United Nations Human Rights Practicum; and a course called Law and the Arab Spring, which drew from her fieldwork in North Africa. When Bennoune first taught at the University of Michigan Law School in 2001, she won the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in teaching.

Her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, received the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction. Released by W.W. Norton & Company in August 2013 and in paperback in 2014, the book addresses the work of many people of Muslim heritage against extremism and terrorism. The related field research took her to numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, and Russia. The TED talk based on the book, “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism,” has received more than 1.5 million views.

Bennoune’s academic publications have appeared in many leading journals, including the American Journal of International Law, the Berkeley Journal of International Law, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, and the European Journal of International Law. They have been widely cited, including on Slate and in the Nation magazine, the Dallas Morning News, and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as by the UN Special Rapporteurs on violence against women and on protecting human rights while countering terrorism.

Her article, “Terror/Torture,” was designated one of the top 10 global security law review articles of 2008 by Oxford University Press. Her topical writing has been published by the New York TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, the Huffington Post, Open Democracy, and Reuters.

Making frequent media appearances, Bennoune has spoken on CNN's “Anderson Cooper 360,” CNN International, MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Fox Business News, National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, the Australian Broadcasting Service, BBC Radio, CBC-Radio, HuffPost Live, Radio France Internationale, and the "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" on PBS. She has been interviewed by many publications, including Charlie Hebdo, the Christian Science Monitorthe Guardian, and the International Herald Tribune.

In 2007, Bennoune became the first Arab-American to win the Derrick Bell Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups. She received the 2016 Rights and Leadership Award from the International Action Network for Gender Equity & Law (link is external). In 2017, she was named one of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America. She has been a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law. Currently, she sits on the Scholar Advisory Board of Muslims for Progressive Values.