Research Expertise and Interest

criminal law, international law, human rights

Research Description

Saira Mohamed’s primary interests are in the areas of criminal law and human rights, with her research focused on responses to mass atrocity. Examining the roles of criminal law and armed force in preventing and stopping widespread violence, her work considers the meaning of responsibility in mass atrocity crimes and seeks to unsettle conventional conceptions of choice and participation in this context. Her most recent articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, and California Law Review. Her article “Deviance, Aspiration, and the Stories We Tell: Reconciling Mass Atrocity and the Criminal Law,” 124 Yale L.J. 1628 (2015), won the award for the best paper by a junior scholar from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Criminal Justice.  In 2020, Mohamed was awarded the Berlin Prize Fellowship to study the military obligation to disobey illegal orders and the duties of states toward members of their armed forces.

Mohamed previously served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, where she counseled government officials on legal and policy issues regarding the work of the International Criminal Court in Darfur and the resolution of the civil war in Sudan. She also was an Attorney-Adviser for human rights and refugees in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, where her portfolio included asylum and human rights litigation in U.S. courts. Immediately prior to joining Berkeley Law, she was the James Milligan Fellow at Columbia Law School.

Mohamed is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was Executive Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and recipient of the David Berger Memorial Prize for international law. She also received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. She holds an undergraduate degree from Yale University in history and international affairs. She clerked for Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and previously served as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.  


J.D., Columbia Law School; B.A., Yale University; Master of International Affairs, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs

In the News

As the World Watches Ukraine, Berkeley Law Experts Discuss Recent Events and What to Expect

As the fighting in Ukraine continued Feb. 28, some of Berkeley Law’s international law experts gathered to discuss the legal and strategic implications of what’s happened — and what might come next. The hybrid roundtable drew a crowd in person and online and was moderated by Berkeley Law Professor Katerina Linos and co-sponsored by the office of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and the school’s Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, where Linos is the co-faculty director.
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