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Global Leaders Forum (2016-2019)

Penn Law is committed to providing a forum for today’s Global Decision Makers. These global thought leaders have shaped important laws, policies, and institutions around the world.
  • Mary Robinson

    Mary Robinson, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Former President of Ireland

    Robinson was recently named UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoys on El Niño and Climate.  She serves as the Chairman of the Institute for Human Rights and Business; President of the Mary Robinson Foundation–Climate Justice.

  • President Alain Berset

    President Alain Berset, President of Switzerland 

    Alain Berset was elected by the United Federal Assembly as president of the Swiss Confederation for 2018 and serves as the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs.

  • Roza Otunbayeva, Former President on Kyrgyzstan; Member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation

    Otunbayeva was the first leader in the region to leave office voluntarily and, as such, became part of the republic’s first peaceful transfer of power. She continues to lead Kyrgyzstan’s long journey toward peace and reconciliation by promoting democratic governance.

  • Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon

    Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, Former President of Mexico

    Since the ending of his term as president in 2000, Zedillo has been a leading voice on globalization, especially its impact on relations between developed and developing nations.   While President, Zedillo led an economic recovery, and instituted reforms designed to end political corruption and create freer elections.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice of the United States of America

    Justice Ginsburg is the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, where she has served for 25 years as a powerful advocate for gender equality including the historic Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire dissent and the majority United States v. Virginia rulings.

  • Navi Pillay

    Navi Pillay, Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

    In her native South Africa, Ms. Pillay contributed to the inclusion of the equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. Her career has focused on children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.

  • Zainab Hawa Bangura

    Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

    Ms. Bangura has over 20 years of policy, diplomatic and practical experience in the field of governance, conflict resolution and reconciliation in Africa. Ms. Bangura has been instrumental in developing national programs on affordable health, advocating for the elimination of genital mutilation, and managing her country’s Peace Building Commission.

  • Irina Bokova

    Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO

    As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova is actively engaged in international efforts to advance gender equality, quality education for all, and combat terrorist financing by preventing the illicit traffic of cultural goods. Bokova was the first Eastern European to lead UNESCO.

  • Asma Jahangir

    Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to Iran; Former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions

    Jahangir is known globally as Pakistan’s leading human rights lawyer.  Jahangir continues to face death threats for her work on behalf of women, children, and minorities, and her efforts to reform the pernicious Hudood Ordinance (crimes of honor and blasphemy in Pakistan).

  • Indira Jaising

    Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India & Founder, Lawyers Collective

    Indira Jaising helped to draft India’s first domestic violence law and aided in achieving equal property rights for Syrian Christian women in India. Jaising’s dedication to battling injustice earned her the award of one of Forbes’ 50 Greatest Leaders in 2018.

  • Hina Jilani

    Hina Jilani, Former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights Defenders

    Jilani is a pioneering lawyer and pro-democracy campaigner, a leading activist in Pakistan’s women’s movement and international champion of human rights. She founded Pakistan’s first all-women law firm; first legal aid centre; and national Human Rights Commission.

  • Portrait of PR of Kenya (H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau)

    Macharia Kamau, Kenyan Ambassador to the United Nations and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on El Niño and Climate

     Ambassador Kamau was one of the primary architects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and co-facilitator of the 2030 Development Agenda.  He has vast experience at the United Nations where he served for over twenty-five years, primarily in senior management positions at the UN Development Programme, UNICEF, and UNTAG.

  • Moushira Khattab

    Moushira Khattab, former Minister of Family & Population of Egypt, Former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, and Former Ambassador

    Khattab is a world-renowned human rights activist advocating the rights of children and women and the former Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child based at the UN Headquarters in Geneva.

  • Maria Mejía Vélez

    Maria Emma Mejía Vélez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations in New York

    Ambassador Mejía has held high government positions for over two decades, dedicating most of her career to peace and Latin-American foreign affairs issues. She played a vital role in negotiating the peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC opposition to end the fifty-year conflict. 

  • Phumizile Mlambo-Ngcuka

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the Executive Director of UN Women where she is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women and launched the “He For She” project, a solidarity campaign for the advancement of gender equality.  She was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa (2005-2008). 

  • Crystal Nix-Hines, United States Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris (2014-2017)

    As US Ambassador to UNESCO, Nix-Hines championed UNESCO’s initiatives to end illiteracy among women and girls, expand educational access through technology and advocated for the restoration of the US’s full financial and diplomatic partnership with UNESCO to advance the nation’s strategic and commercial interests.

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance of Nigeria and Coordinating Minister for the Economy

    A world-renowned economist recently named one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune.  Okonjo-Iweala has also served as Managing Director of the World Bank.

  • Miguel de Serpa Soares

    Miguel de Serpa Soares, UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs

    UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs

    Serpa Soares is the United Nations’ top legal counsel and legal advisor to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.  He previously served as Director General of Portugal’s Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a Member of the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration. 


  • Donald B. Verrilli

    Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., 46th Solicitor General of the United States & Partner, Munger, Tolles and Olson

    Donald B. Verrilli’s tenure as the 46th Solicitor General of the United States was marked by high-profile Supreme Court cases that define President Obama’s legacy on issues of health care law, voting rights, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and immigration.

  • Melanie Verveer

    Melanne Verveer, Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues 

    Current Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University. Verveer previously served as Executive Director of People for the American Way, where she was involved in the passage of important civil rights legislation.

  • Penny Wong

    Penny Wong, Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Senate

    Wong is the first woman to hold both the role of Leader of the Government in the Australian Senate and, after the change of government in 2013, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. She is an advocate for women’s equality, LGBTI rights, and a multicultural Australia.