Amal Clooney, an award-winning barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, London, has clocked up an impressive workload and CV in international law and human rights. With social media now playing such a large role in people's lives, for good or bad, her keynote address on digital equity, via satellite at the Apec CEO Summit, will be keenly awaited. She will pose the question: Are businesses putting human rights at the core of the decisions they make?
Clooney, whose husband is actor George Clooney, is described as "a brilliant legal mind handling cases of real international importance, and knows her brief inside out. She is a dream performer before international tribunals … in a way that is very effective for victims of human rights abuses."
Born in Lebanon, she moved to England at 2, during the Lebanese Civil War. Clooney graduated from Oxford with a BA in Jurisprudence and has a Master of Laws from New York University. She has a licence to practice as a lawyer in the United States and UK, as well as at international courts in The Hague. Co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, she was a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School and taught the human rights course. She was senior adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN's Envoy on Syria, as counsel to the UN inquiry on the use of armed drones in counter-terrorism, and as a rapporteur for the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute on independence of the judiciary. She is a member of the UK's team of experts on preventing sexual violence in conflict zones, and its panel of experts on public international law.
Clooney represented journalist Al Jazeera's Mohamed Fahmy who was imprisoned and eventually pardoned in Egypt; Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova who was released from prison following a European Court of Human Rights trial; and Reuters' Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, freed in Myanmar in 2019. She has pressed for the recognition of the Armenian genocide in 2015 and recently the Sudan Darfur genocide; argued the imprisonment of Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was illegal; filed a case against the Philippines Government against the continued detention of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; and in February last year pursued justice for the Rohingya people of Maldives at the International Court of Justice. Clooney was chosen as Barbara Walters' most fascinating person of 2014, and Prince Charles launched the Amal Clooney Award to celebrate incredible young women.
Last year she was awarded the Gwen Ifill award by the Committee to Protect Journalists for "extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom".