Amal Clooney

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Amal Clooney
Amal Clooney 02.jpg
Clooney in 2018
Amal Alamuddin

(1978-02-03) 3 February 1978 (age 40)
Beirut, Lebanon
Alma mater
Years active2000–present
George Clooney (m. 2014)

Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin; Arabic: أمل علم الدين‎; born 3 February 1978)[1] is a Lebanese-British barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights.[2] Her clients include the likes of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition,[3] the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko,[4] and Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. She is married to the American actor George Clooney.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

Amal Alamuddin was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her first name is derived from Arabic أمل ʾamal, meaning "hope".[5]

During the 1980s Lebanese Civil War, Alamuddin's family left Lebanon and settled in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.[6] She learned English watching her favourite show “The Facts of Life," and was two years old at the time.[7] Her father, Ramzi Alam Uddin, from a Lebanese Druze family from Baakline (a village in the Chouf district),[7][8][9][10][11][12] received his MBA degree at the American University of Beirut and was the owner of COMET travel agency. He returned to Lebanon in 1991.[13][14] Her mother, Bariaa Miknass, from a family of Sunni Muslims[15][16] from Tripoli in Northern Lebanon,[15][16] is a foreign editor of the Pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat and a founder of the public relations company International Communication Experts, which is part of a larger company that specialises in celebrity guest bookings, publicity photography, and event promotion.[7][17]

Alamuddin's mother, Baria Alamuddin,is a well-known political journalist.[18] She states, “My pregnancy with Amal was a rather difficult one,” as she had placenta praevia and spent two months in the hospital. “At some point, I was told that I should lose the baby. I said no. I kept on having these dreams in which I would see her face and how she was going to look. In the end, [she] was born exactly as I saw her.” The birth came during a lull in Lebanon's civil war, so her father named her Amal – Arabic for “hope.”

Amal Clooney has three siblings—one sister, Tala, and two half-brothers, Samer and Ziad,[7] from her father's first marriage.[19]


Clooney attended Dr Challoner's High School, a girls' grammar school located in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire. She then studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, where she received an Exhibition[20] and the Shrigley Award.[21] In 2000, Clooney graduated with a BA degree in Jurisprudence (Oxford's equivalent to the LLB)[22] from St Hugh's College, Oxford.

The following year, in 2001, she entered New York University School of Law to study for the LLM degree. She received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law.[23][24] For one semester while at NYU, she worked in the office of Sonia Sotomayor, then a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[25]


Clooney is qualified to practice as a lawyer in the United States and the United Kingdom. She was admitted to the bar in New York in 2002 and in England and Wales in 2010. She has also practiced at international courts in The Hague including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.[23]

New York[edit]

Amal worked at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City for three years as part of the Criminal Defense and Investigations Group, where her clients included Enron and Arthur Andersen.[21][23]

The Hague[edit]

In 2004, she completed a judicial clerkship at the International Court of Justice. She clerked under Judge Vladlen S. Vereshchetin from Russia, Judge Nabil Elaraby from Egypt,[26][27] and ad hoc Judge Sir Franklin Berman from the United Kingdom.

She was subsequently based in The Hague working in the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon and at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.[28]


Clooney returned to Britain in 2010,[29] where she became a barrister in London (Bar of England & Wales, Inner Temple) at Doughty Street Chambers.[21] In 2013 Clooney was appointed to a number of United Nations commissions, including as adviser to Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Syria and as Counsel to the 2013 Drone Inquiry by UN human rights rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC into the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations.[24][30]

Clooney has been involved in high-profile cases representing the state of Cambodia, the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdallah Al Senussi, Yulia Tymoshenko[31] and Julian Assange, and was an adviser to the King of Bahrain in connection with the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry headed by Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni.[23]


For the Spring 2015 and 2016 academic semesters, Clooney was a visiting faculty member and a senior fellow with Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute.[32][33] She was a co-professor with Sarah H. Cleveland in Cleveland's course on human rights and taught a class on human rights litigation to students in the school's Human Rights Clinic.[34][35]

For the Spring 2018 semester, Clooney taught at Columbia Law School, again as a co-professor with Sarah H. Cleveland on a core class on human rights.[36]

Clooney has also lectured students on international criminal law at the Law School of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, The New School in New York City, The Hague Academy of International Law, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[23]

Notable cases[edit]

Amal in May 2014

As of 2011, Clooney was assisting the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the arbitration between Merck Sharp and Dohme and the Republic of Ecuador.[37]

Starting in 2014, Clooney represented Canadian Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy who, along with other journalists, was being held in Egypt.[38][39][40][41] He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison and lost a retrial in August 2015 before finally being pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.[42][43]

In August 2014, Clooney declined a UN commission to look into possible violations of the rules of war in Gaza during the Gaza war of 2014.[44]

In October 2014, Clooney was hired in attempt to repatriate the ancient Greek sculptures the Elgin Marbles.[45][46] In May 2015, Greece decided to stop legal proceedings to recover the sculptures and dismissed her as their brief.[47]

In January 2015, Clooney began work on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.[48] She is representing Armenia on behalf of Doughty Street Chambers along with Geoffrey Robertson QC.[49] She said Turkey's stance was hypocritical "because of its disgraceful record on freedom of expression", including prosecutions of Turkish-Armenians who campaign for the 1915 massacres to be called a genocide.[48] She is representing Armenia in the case against Doğu Perinçek,[50][51] whose 2007 conviction for genocide denial and racial discrimination was overturned in Perinçek v. Switzerland (2013).[48] A "minor internet frenzy" resulted from her bon mot prior to the 28 January 2015 hearing. In response to a journalist pestering her over what designer gown she would be wearing in court, she replied "Ede & Ravenscroft" – the tailors who make her court robes.[52][53]

On 8 March 2015, Clooney filed a case against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines before the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a body under the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, for the continued detention of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.[54] Arroyo was a sitting Pampanga congresswoman at the time. On 2 October, The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later released its opinion that the detention of former President Arroyo "violates international law" and is "arbitrary on a number of grounds."[55]

On 7 April 2015, it was announced that Clooney would be part of the legal team defending Mohamed Nasheed, former President of the Maldives, in his ongoing arbitrary detention.[56] Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail in March 2015 following what was characterized as a politically motivated trial.[57] Amnesty International described his sentencing as a "travesty of justice."[58][59] Prior to visiting the Maldives, the local co-counsel working on the case was stabbed in the head, an indication of the danger and instability in the country.[60] In January 2016, Clooney gave a series of interviews about the UN-condemned trial and imprisonment of Nasheed and put forth efforts to support imposing sanctions on the Maldives.[61][62] According to The Economist, she has "helped strengthen the backing of Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, for the cause of Maldivian democracy."[63]

In June 2015, Clooney began work on the recently re-opened Hooded Men case[64] brought by the Irish government against the British government in the European Court of Human Rights.[65][66] Clooney worked with Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan[citation needed] on the case, which concerned policies used by UK Prime Minister Edward Heath (1970–1974) in Operation Demetrius that included the illegal interrogation methods known as five techniques.[67] In September 2018, the court rejected the final appeal in the case.[68]

Clooney is part of the legal team representing Louis Olivier Bancoult and Chagos islanders on their claim[69] that they had been forced off their island, Diego Garcia, in 1971 by the UK government to make way for a U.S. military base.[70]

In 2016, it was announced that Clooney will represent Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights. Ismayilova's investigative work had resulted in her imprisonment.[71] Following the trial, Ismayilova was released from prison and had her sentence reduced to a suspended three-and-a-half year term.[72]

In September 2016, Clooney spoke – for the first time at the United Nations – before the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss the decision she made in June 2016[73] to represent Murad as a client in legal action against ISIL commanders.[74][75][76] Clooney characterised the genocide, rape, and trafficking as a "bureaucracy of evil on an industrial scale" by ISIL, describing a slave market existing both online, on Facebook and in the Middle East that is still active today.[77]


On 25 February 2014, the UK Attorney General's Office appointed Clooney for the period 2014 to 2019 to the C Panel of the Public International Law Panel of Counsel.[78][79]

In May 2014, Clooney was a signatory of UNICEF UK and Jemima Khan's open letter that called for "action from UK Government to protect women and children".[80]

On 2 January 2015, it was reported by The Guardian that before Clooney was involved as Rapporteur in the case against Mohamed Fahmy, she had written a report in February 2014 for the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) that was critical of Egypt's judiciary process. Clooney and others were warned that there was a strong possibility they would be arrested if they entered Egypt, as a result of the criticism.[81][82]

Awards and honours[edit]

Clooney studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, where she received an Exhibition[20] and the Shrigley Award.[21] Clooney received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law.[23][24]

Clooney was chosen as Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of 2015.[83] At the 2014 British Fashion Awards, Clooney was shortlisted for Best British Style alongside David Beckham, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and Emma Watson.[84]


Clooney is the president of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which she co-founded with her husband George Clooney in late 2016 to advance justice in courtrooms, communities, and classrooms around the world.

Clooney partnered with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in beginning the Amal Clooney Scholarship, which was created to send one female student from Lebanon to the United World College Dilijan each year, to enroll in a two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.[85]

Clooney and her husband sponsor a Yazidi student, Hazim Avdal, who Clooney met via her work with Nadia Murad as Avdal worked at Yazda. He is attending the University of Chicago.[86]

In 2018, following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the Clooneys pledged $500,000 to the March for Our Lives and said they would be in attendance.[87]

Personal life[edit]

Amal and George Clooney with Julia Roberts at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, in France

Amal Clooney is fluent in English, French and conversational Arabic.[88][89] Her father is a Lebanese Druze[10][11][12][15][90] and her mother is a Lebanese Sunni Muslim.[15][16] Some reports have described Clooney as a Druze.[90] She became engaged to actor George Clooney on 28 April 2014.[91]

In July 2014, George Clooney publicly criticised the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail after it claimed his fiancée's mother opposed their marriage on religious grounds.[92] When the tabloid apologised for its false story, he refused to accept the apology. He called the paper "the worst kind of tabloid. One that makes up its facts to the detriment of its readers."[93]

On 7 August 2014, the couple obtained marriage licences in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.[94] They married on 27 September 2014 in Venice's city hall (at Ca' Farsetti),[95][96][97] following a high-profile wedding ceremony two days earlier, also[98] in Venice.[99][100][101] They were married by Clooney's friend Walter Veltroni, former mayor of Rome.[101][102] The wedding was widely reported in the media.[103] In October 2014, it was announced that the Clooneys had bought the Mill House on an island in the River Thames at Sonning Eye in England[104] at a cost of around £10 million.[105]

In February 2017, it was reported by the CBS talk show The Talk that Clooney was pregnant, and that she and her husband were expecting twins.[106] Friend Matt Damon confirmed the pregnancy to Entertainment Tonight.[107] In June 2017, she gave birth to a daughter and a son, named Ella and Alexander respectively.[108]

Works and publications[edit]

  • Alamuddin, Amal (2010). "II. Before the Trial Begins; 6. Collection of Evidence". In Khan, Karim A.A.; Buisman, Caroline; Gosnell, Christopher. Principles of Evidence in International Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 231–305. ISBN 978-0-19-958892-3. OCLC 663822377.
  • Alamuddin, Amal; Webb, Philippa (15 November 2010). "Expanding Jurisdiction over War Crimes under Article 8 of the ICC Statute". Journal of International Criminal Justice. 8 (5): 1219–1243. doi:10.1093/jicj/mqq066. ISSN 1478-1387. OCLC 775833494.[28]
  • Alamuddin, Amal (April 2012). "Does Libya Have to Surrender Saif Al-slam Gaddafi to The Hague?" (PDF). Mizaan: The Newsletter from Lawyers for Justice in Libya (1).
  • Alamuddin, Amal (10 December 2012). "Will Syria go to the ICC?" (PDF). The Lawyer.
  • Alamuddin, Amal; Hardman, Nadia (February 2014). "Separating Law and Politics: Challenges to the Independence of Judges and Prosecutors in Egypt". Report of the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Supported by the Open Society Foundations Arab Regional Office. PDF
  • Alamuddin, Amal (2014). "The role of the Security Council in starting and stopping cases at the International Criminal Court: problems of principle and practice". In Zidar, Andraž; Bekou, Olympia. Contemporary Challenges for the International Criminal Court. London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law. pp. 103–130. ISBN 978-1-90522-151-6. OCLC 871319445.
  • Alamuddin, Amal; Bonini, Anna (2014). "Chapter 4: The UN investigation of the Hariri assassination; The relationship between the UN investigation commission and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Problems of Principle and Practice". In Alamuddin, Amal; Jurdi, Nidal Nabil; Tolbert, David. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Law and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 50–72. ISBN 978-0-19-968745-9. OCLC 861207456.
  • Clooney, Amal (18 August 2014). "The Anatomy of an Unfair Trial". Huffington Post.
  • Clooney, Amal (30 April 2015). "Release Mohamed Nasheed – an innocent man and the Maldives' great hope". The Guardian.
  • Clooney, Amal (14 October 2015). "Maldives Backslides Into Repression as the World Calls for President Nasheed's Release". Huffington Post.
  • Clooney, Amal; Webb, Philippa (2018). The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-198-80839-8. OCLC 994411014. (forthcoming November 2018)


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