Sandra Coliver joined the Open Society Justice Initiative, based in the New York office, in 2005 as the senior legal officer for freedom of information and expression. Previously, she served as the director of the Center for Justice and Accountability, a San Francisco–based organization that works to deter torture and other severe human rights abuses by helping survivors hold persecutors legally accountable. For more than two decades, she has managed or participated in human rights and rule of law programs in Mongolia, Morocco, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, Rwanda, Russia, and parts of Europe, including three years during which she was based in Bosnia.
From 1990-96, she directed the law program of Article 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression, based in London. In that capacity she helped develop the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, wrote a commentary and edited a book of papers on that theme; wrote A19’s first Handbook on FOE Best Law and Practice; edited a book on hate speech laws and practice in more than two dozen countries; and co-authored two other books on freedom of expression and information issues.
Coliver has also worked on international law reform for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Crisis Group, and IFES, an NGO that promotes fair elections and accountable governments.
Coliver received her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and her undergraduate degree from Yale. She clerked for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and worked as a public defender and a litigator in private practice in San Francisco. Before joining the Open Society Justice Initiative, she was a member of the Faculty of the Summer Program on International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law.