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Vera Gowlland-Debbas – In Memoriam

22 September 1943 - 29 September 2015


It is with great sadness that we learned that our dear colleague and friend, Professor Vera Gowlland-Debbas, passed away on September 29.

Vera was an academic expert at Doughty Street Chambers / Doughty Street International. Up until last week she was closely engaged with, and of invaluable support to, a team of Doughty Street International experts advising a state party to the International Criminal Court.

Vera was born in 1943 in Alexandria, Egypt and had Swiss/Lebanese/UK nationalities. She graduated with Distinction from the American University of Beirut in 1962 and subsequently studied at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, where she obtained her LLM in 1965 and her PhD (with a specialisation in public international law) in 1986. Vera was a professor at the graduate Institute of international studies in Geneva for many years. 

She was an Honorary Professor of Public International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and a visiting Professor at many universities throughout the world, including the University of London, All Souls College, Oxford, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, the Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Université Paris II, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Vera’s professional activities have included acting as Counsel for the Arab League in the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2004. She has also contributed as an expert to the work of international organisations, including UNHCR, OHCHR, UNODC and WHO, and was rapporteur on the Effects of Reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the Human Rights Commission.

During her long and distinguished career, Vera became an expert in the law of the United Nations, Security Council sanctions, State and IO responsibility, treaty law, international dispute settlement, human rights and refugee law.

Our thoughts are with Vera’s family, her husband, Neil Gowlland, her two children, and grandchildren. Vera will be deeply missed by all of us at Doughty Street.


Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, 54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS
Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, 53-54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS