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Director

Smita Narula, Distinguished Lecturer, Hunter College, and Interim Director, Human Rights Program, Roosevelt House

Smita Narula is an award-winning scholar and practitioner with two decades of experience in the field of human rights and public policy.  She has authored dozens of publications on rights-related subjects, and has helped formulate policy, legal, and community-led responses to a range of social justice and ecological issues worldwide.  In both her scholarship and her practice Narula has focused in particular on: the right to food, land and natural resources; corporate accountability for human rights violations; racial profiling and counter-terrorism; and caste discrimination.

From 2003 to 2014, Narula was Executive Director and then Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and professor of the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law.  As Associate Professor of Clinical Law, Narula directed an intensive program of experiential learning, and together with her students explored new and effective ways to enforce international human rights guarantees and defend the rights of those most marginalized by economic globalization and by discriminatory social norms and State policies.

Narula has worked globally to promote and defend access to nutritious food as a fundamental human right, and to ensure sustainability and justice in our food systems.  In 2008, she was appointed legal advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food and served in this capacity for the duration of the Rapporteur’s six-year mandate.  She has led key research and advocacy initiatives to address the impact of agricultural and land use policies on food system sustainability and the right to food, paying particular attention to the accountability of corporations and international financial institutions for human rights abuses and to structural discrimination against communities marginalized on the basis of their race, gender, caste, or indigenous status.

Narula began her post-law school career at Human Rights Watch, first as their India researcher and later as Senior Researcher for South Asia.  In these capacities, she oversaw the organization’s work in South Asia and helped found India’s National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights as well as the International Dalit Solidarity Network—movements that aim to support the right to equality of more than 260 million people affected by caste-based discrimination and untouchability practices worldwide.

Narula graduated with honors from Harvard Law School where she was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.  Prior to law school, she earned a B.A. and M.A. with honors from Brown University, and worked on HIV and public health issues at UNICEF and the United Nations Development Fund.