65 U. Miami L. Rev. 867 (2010-2011)
Still Trembling: State Obligation under International Law to End Post-Earthquake Rape in Haiti

handle is hein.journals/umialr65 and id is 873 raw text is: Still Trembling:
State Obligation Under International Law
to End Post-Earthquake Rape in Haiti
The struggle to end sexual violence in Haiti on the international
level started with the visionary work of Professor Rhonda Copelon,t
founder of the International Women's Human Rights Clinic at the City
University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. At the end of 1994,
after Haiti suffered from a surge in sexual violence due to political insta-
bility, Copelon pulled together a team of organizations, including
MADRE, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the law firm of Morrison
& Foerster, and others, to strategize on this issue. Together they filed a
brief with the Organization of American States (OAS), calling attention
to the violence happening in Haiti and to the notion under international
law of rape as a form of torture when committed by government actors.
About fifteen years later Haiti suffered yet another surge in sexual
violence, but this time due to an earthquake on January 12, 2010.2 The
* Lisa Davis is an Adjunct Professor of Law for the International Women's Human Rights
Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law and the Human Rights
Advocacy Director for MADRE. She received her J.D. from CUNY Law School, where she was
Editor-in-Chief of the New York City Law Review, and her M.A. in International Policy from
American University. For over ten years she has worked as an advocate for human rights and has
written extensively on international women's human rights issues. Lisa currently serves as the
Coordinator for the Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network Gender Working Group. She is a
member of the New York City Bar Association's International Human Rights Committee and the
National Lawyers' Guild Working Group on Haiti. The author would like to thank Natashah Lycia
Ora Bannan for her editorial assistance and Pierce Suen for his research assistance. This article is
dedicated to the courageous women of Haiti living and organizing within the displacement camps.
These women are not just rape survivors but survivors in every sense of the word, and any victory
we have had as international attorneys working with them on this crisis has been because of their
strength and ability to do this work. This article is also dedicated to the memory of Rhonda
Copelon whose strategic legal brilliance, unwavering political courage, and deep commitment to a
women's human rights vision will forever inspire and guide our work.
1. Rhonda Copelon's extensive work history on this issue included working for over a
decade at the Center for Constitutional Rights where she litigated civil rights cases with a focus on
women's rights and international human rights including the landmark case of Filartiga v. Pena-
Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (2d Cir. 1980), which opened federal courts to international human rights
claims. Professor Copelon also cofounded and directed the Legal Secretariat of the Women's
Caucus for Gender Justice in the International Criminal Court and served as a legal advisor to the
Coalition on Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations.
2. Although no comprehensive study has been conducted on the growth of post-earthquake
sexual violence in Haiti, snap shot research that has been conducted demonstrates a sharp


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