War Crimes Expert Is Human Rights Center’s New Executive Director

For Immediate Release

Contact: Andrea Lampros, Human Rights Center, (510) 643-7215, alampros@berkeley.edu


Berkeley, CA….The Human Rights Center (HRC) at UC Berkeley School of Law today announced that Alexa Koenig—a respected scholar in war crimes and international human rights law—will be its new executive director.

Koenig, who has served as the center’s interim director for the past six months, has well over a decade of experience with nonprofit organizations, including work on behalf of Native American tribal governments. She earned a B.A. summa cum laude from U.C.L.A., a J.D. magna cum laude from the University of San Francisco School of Law, an M.A. from U.C. Berkeley, and is expecting a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from Berkeley Law next year.

“Alexa Koenig has many arrows in her quiver,” said Eric Stover, HRC’s faculty director, who conducted an international search for the position. “She has managed nonprofits, collaborated with foundations and donors, and applied the law and empirical research to fight for the rights of vulnerable groups in the United States and abroad. All of us at the Human Rights Center are delighted to have her on board.”

Koenig was an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law for five years and has lectured at UC Berkeley on human rights and war crimes investigations. She worked on legal issues related to Guantanamo detainees, as a graduate student and fellow for the American Association of University Women.

“It’s an incredible honor to be part of an organization that is so dedicated to fighting injustice and that is so careful and has such impressive integrity in terms of the research it conducts,” said Koenig. “I’m delighted to become part of this amazing team.”

Koenig has written extensively about war crimes and human rights law in publications such as the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, the International Review of the Red Cross, the Essex Human Rights Review, the Santa Clara Law Review, and the University of San Francisco Law Review. Her most recent book chapter about state recognition of American Indian tribes will appear in the book Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles and Indigenous Rights in the United States this spring.

She is currently co-authoring a book with Stover and Victor Peskin called, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Politics of Pursuing War Criminals in the 21st Century, which is under contract with the University of California Press. The book identifies challenges to, and possibilities for, arresting individuals who have committed the world’s most egregious crimes, from the Nuremberg era to post-9/11, with an eye to providing recommendations for maximizing arrest rates.

Koenig is a California native. She grew up in Marin County and attended Tamalpais High School. She is the mother of two children and lives in Novato.

The Human Rights Center was founded at UC Berkeley in 1994 and established a home base in Berkeley Law in 2011. The center focuses on improving accountability for sexual violence during armed conflict, reuniting families torn apart by war, and making it easier for victims and witnesses to testify in international war crimes tribunals. As part of its educational mission, the center sends University of California students into the field to support human rights work around the world.

Since the center’s inception, more than 227 UC students have been selected to serve as human right fellows in 65 countries. In 2012, fellows worked with victims of the Mexican drug war, Laotians living with the legacy of landmines, undocumented immigrants near the U.S. border, and coal miners in Appalachia.

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For a high-resolution photo of Alexa Koenig, please contact Andrea Lampros at alampros@berkeley.edu or 510.847.4469.