International human rights law and advocacy has been my passion for over two decades.
I’m one of those people who grew up wanting to change the world. And I’m doing it – I’m a human rights advocate and international lawyer.
I work with courageous individuals and communities, as well as non-profits, governments, United Nations agencies, and others, to improve the implementation of human rights around the world. I help bring local human rights issues to the global attention of the United Nations, and help victims get their stories heard. And I operate with a not-so-secret agenda — I use this real human rights work as a practical opportunity to teach others, helping develop the next generation of human rights advocates.
Human rights are built on the concept of human dignity. Dignity, respect, empathy, kindness, compassion, acceptance, courage, and love, are the values I try to bring to my world and share with those around me. I’m not always successful at doing this – that’s why I see my life, like my profession, as a practice; every day is an opportunity to keep practicing, learning and improving.
Since I was young I’ve been interested in using mentoring as a way of enhancing these practices. I first set up a Big-Sister Program in my first year of high school to help pair new students with more experienced seniors, helping build acceptance and courage in our school community. Promoting and building opportunities for mentoring became something I continued doing throughout my life, finding formal and informal ways to help those more experienced to give back and reach out a helping hand to other, and to support and promote those just starting out (in their studies, their professions, in extra-curricular activities, or in moving to a new city).
Combining my two passions of human rights and mentoring led me to coaching up-and-coming leaders, change-makers, and advocates.
It is my way of combining my many years of experience in social justice advocacy with my keen interest in building community while helping others to become their best selves.
My work as an international lawyer specialising in human rights law and practice has led me to work with people from all walks of life, from presidents and other world leaders, to grassroots activists, labourers, homeless people, and almost everyone in between. This has been a privilege and an honour, and the lessons I’ve learned through these experiences I want to share with others who are learning how to change the world.
One of the most important lessons I have learned along the way is that in order to change the world we often need to change our worlds — in particular the way that we lead and manage our own lives and relationships. The work I’ve done with some of my own mentors, such as Randi Buckley (whose work on Healthy Boundaries for Kind People is life changing) and Tara Mohr (who does exceptional work on helping women learn about Playing Big) informs the work I do with clients in nurturing and developing their best selves.
The people I work with are those who unashamedly want to create a better world, for themselves and for others, a world where human rights and human dignity are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
Together, we figure out how to do this, and what information and resources are needed, whether that’s on a global scale or in their own personal lives.
And we have fun while doing so!
Claire runs a tribe blending the intellectual capacity of Gertrude Stein’s parlor, with a bit of Warhol factory thrown in.N.T.
Advocating for Human Rights
I work with other human rights defenders to protect and promote human rights implementation.
Shining A Light
One of my skills is to help bring clarity to decisions, situations, and issues – helping build confidence through awareness.
I may be an introvert, but I’m not shy about speaking up, with passion, honesty, and a desire to promote courageous change.
Connecting People & Issues
I love being a connector, linking people and issues to the information that will help them.
Claire Mahon is an international human rights lawyer based in Geneva, Switzerland, where she is the founder and Director of the Global Human Rights Group, a social enterprise comprising of the not-for-profit NGO the Global Human Rights Clinic (which focuses on offering experiential learning opportunities), and the not-just-for-profit boutique consulting firm, the Global Human Rights Consultants LLC. Claire also works as a coach and mentor, developing international change-makers. Previously, Claire was a senior Research Fellow and the Founder and joint Coordinator of the Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, coordinating their Geneva International Fellows Program. She taught at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and also regularly teaches at other universities around the world as a guest lecturer in various courses on international human rights law, international organisations and public international law.
She has previously worked for Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Service for Human Rights, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her work has focused on the UN human rights system and economic, social and cultural rights, particularly issues relating to monitoring human rights, including in the field. She has experience in designing and providing training on international human rights law and practice to diplomats, advocates, field officers, UN staff, and students in over 35 countries. She worked with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2007-2008 and contributed to his country missions and annual reports. She also spent two years (2009-2010) working as the Special Advisor to Mrs Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, in her role as Chair of the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI).
Claire has published on a variety of international human rights law topics, for academic publications and non-governmental organisations. She is the co-author of the book The Fight for the Right to Food: Lessons Learned (with Jean Ziegler, Christophe Golay and Sally-Anne Way, published by Palgrave Macmillan, February 2011), and the co-editor of Realizing the Right to Health (with Andrew Clapham, Mary Robinson, and Scott Jerbi), published by Rüffer and Rub in May 2009. She is the principle author of Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights (Geneva: COHRE, 2007), and she prepared the MultiStakeholder Guidelines for Mega-Events and Housing Rights (Geneva: COHRE, 2007), published in French, Spanish and Chinese, which have been referenced by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing. For several years she wrote a monthly column as ‘Foreign Correspondent’ on human rights issues at the UN in the Australian Human Rights Law Centre Bulletin.
Prior to moving to Geneva, Claire worked as a corporate lawyer in mergers and acquisitions, at a top Australian law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, and in community law at the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, in Victoria.
Claire holds a Diplôme d’études approfondies (LLM/M.Phil equivalent) in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies; a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) from the Australian National University (ANU); a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations and Development Studies) from ANU; and is completing a PhD on the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.