Karima Bennoune is a professor of international law at the University of California–Davis School of Law. She grew up in Algeria and the United States and now lives in northern California.
The topic of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here is a very personal one for her. Mahfoud Bennoune, her father, was an outspoken professor at the University of Algiers who faced death threats during the 1990s, but continued speaking out against fundamentalism and terrorism. In writing this book, Karima set out to meet people who are today doing what her father did back then, to try to garner for them greater international support than Algerian democrats received during the 1990s.
She graduated from a joint program in law and Middle Eastern and North African studies at the University of Michigan, earning a J.D. cum laude from the law school and an M.A. from the Rackham Graduate School, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies.
In 1995, she served as a Center for Women’s Global Leadership delegate to the NGO Forum at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing where she provided legal advice to the Tribunal for Global Accountability for Violations of Women’s Human Rights. From 1995 until 1999 she was based in London as a legal adviser at Amnesty International.
She came to UC Davis from Rutgers School of Law – Newark where she was Professor of Law and Arthur L. Dickson Scholar, and taught international law and human rights for ten years. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award at Rutgers University–Newark. Professor Bennoune has also been a visiting scholar and visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School where she won the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in teaching.
Her publications have appeared in many leading academic journals, including the American Journal of International Law, the Berkeley Journal of International Law, the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, the European Journal of International Law, and the Michigan Journal of International Law. They have been widely cited, including on Slate, in the Nation magazine, the Dallas Morning News, and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the UN Special Rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism. Her article, “Terror/Torture,” was designated one of the top 10 global security law review articles of 2008 by Oxford University Press.
Bennoune’s topical writing has been published by the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Guardian Comment is Free, the website of Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Reuters, Open Democracy and the Huffington Post.
She has lectured around the world, including at the Harvard Law School, NYU School of Law, UC-Berkeley School of Law, the University of Chicago Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, the Yale Law School, UCLA Law School, the Loyola University Marymount Center for Religion and Culture, the International Peace Institute, the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, Aloud: Library Foundation of Los Angeles, the Southern Festival of Books, and the Texas Book Festival in the U.S., as well as for the UN Department of Political Affairs, the University of London, the London School of Economics, the University of Oslo, the Shia Ismaili Council for Edmonton and the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, the University of Alberta, the European Foundation for Democracy, the National Conference of Tunisian Intellectuals against Terrorism, the Fondation Chokri Belaid, the 19th Salon International du livre d’Alger, the El Khabar Forum, the Feminist Leadership Institute in Senegal, CODESRIA (The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa), at TEDxExeter, the Sydney Writer’s Festival, the Australian National University and the Second Istanbul Conference on Democracy and Global Security.
In 2015, Bennoune taught in the summer program in international human rights law at Oxford University, organized jointly by Oxford’s Human Rights Program and the George Washington University School of Law.
She has been invited to lecture about Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here in Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Italy, Kenya, Poland, Tunisia, Turkey, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, as well as around the United States by Muslims for Progressive Values, the Women’s Learning Partnership and the Levantine Cultural Center (The Markaz), the World Affairs Councils of Austin, Houston, Maine, New Hampshire and Sacramento, the University of Georgia, the University of Michigan and at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Making frequent media appearances, Bennoune has been a guest on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, as well as on MSNBC, Fox Business News, National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, Sirius Radio, the Australian Broadcasting Service, BBC Radio 4, CBC-Radio, HuffPost Live, and the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour, and has been interviewed by U.S. News and World Report, the Christian Science Monitor, NBC.com, the International Herald Tribune, the Edmonton Journal, Deutsche Welle, and the Guardian..
In 2007, Professor Bennoune became the first Arab-American to win the Derrick Bell Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups. She has served as a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law and on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA. Currently, she sits on the Board of the Network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and on the Scholar Advisory Board of Muslims for Progressive Values.
Karima Bennoune has also been a consultant on human rights issues for the International Council on Human Rights Policy, the Soros Foundation, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, and for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Her human rights field missions have included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Fiji, Lebanon, Pakistan, South Korea, southern Thailand, and Tunisia. In 2009-2010 she was one of a group of international experts assembled by Leiden University, under the auspices of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, to develop a new set of policy recommendations on counter-terrorism and international law. In October 2011, she volunteered as an election observer during the Tunisian constituent assembly elections with Gender Concerns International. In 2015, she served as an expert at the African regional summit on countering violent extremism, held in Nairobi.
In 2014, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for non-fiction. It was also selected as the best social science book of 2013 by the American Library Association’s Booklist. The first TED talk based on the book—“When People of Muslim Heritage Confront Fundamentalism”—has garnered over 1.3 million views.
In 2015 she was named UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.