Elsa Stamatopoulou joined Columbia University in 2011 after a 31-year service at the United Nations (in Vienna, Geneva and New York) with some 22 years dedicated to human rights, in addition to 8 years exclusively devoted to Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Indigenous issues were part of her portfolio since 1983 and she became the first Chief of the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2003. In 2011, she taught the first-ever course at Columbia on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the first course on cultural rights (2016) and is the first Director of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia, also co-chairing Columbia’s University Seminar on Indigenous Studies. Her academic background is in law, international law, criminal justice and political science (Athens Law School, Vienna University, Northeastern University and Graduate Institute of International Studies at the University of Geneva) and she has worked on international normative frameworks, institution-building, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other groups, women’s rights, cultural rights, development, private sector and inter-governmental cooperation. She has cooperated closely with non-governmental organizations in her native Greece and elsewhere and has received the Ingrid Washinawatok El Issa O’Peqtaw Metaehmoh-Flying Eagle Woman Peace, Justice and Sovereignty Award; the award of the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples; the Eleanor Roosevelt Award of the Human Rights Center and of Voices 21; the Innovation in Academia Award for Arts & Culture, 2016, by the University of Kent (UK); and in 2010, the Museum “Tepee of the World” was given her name in the Republic of Sakha, Siberia, Russia. In 2016, she was featured as one of the UN’s 80 Leading Women from 1945-2016. She co-chairs the International Commission on the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Books: Cultural Rights in International Law, 2007, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Brill); Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace (ed.), 2017, Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights; Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes, (ed. with W. Littlechild), 2014 Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights; The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 50 Years and Beyond (ed. with Y. Danieli and C. Diaz), 1998, Baywood Publishing Co. She oversaw the first edition of the UN publication State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, New York, 2009.
Book chapters and articles she has published deal with Indigenous Peoples’ rights, women’s rights, historical injustices and human rights responses, cultural rights, development and international organizations, among other topics.
At Columbia, Prof. Stamatopoulou is affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and the Department of Anthropology.
Cultural Rights in International Law, 2007, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Brill).
Walking and Learning with Indigenous Peoples (ed. with P. Calla) , 2018, Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University, Columbia University Academic Commons.
Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace (ed.), 2017, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University.
Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes, (ed. with W. Littlechild), 2014, both with Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University.
First edition of the UN publication State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, New York, 2009, conceptualization, overseeing and production.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 50 Years and Beyond (ed. with Y. Danieli and C. Diaz), 1998, Baywood Publishing Co.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the principal post-war document for the consolidation of democracy, the respect of human rights and of the right to education”, in Education and Human Rights, A. Yotopoulos-Marangopoulos & S.H. Aktypis eds., pp 169-179 , A.P. Publications and MFHR, Athens, 2015.
“Walking the Talk? Including Indigenous Peoples’ Issues in Intergovernmental Organizations”, in Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in International Law, pp172-199, R. Dunbar-Ortiz, D. Sambo Dorough, G. Alfredson, L. Swepston and P. Wille co-editors, GALDU (Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and IWGIA (International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs), Kautokeino and Copenhagen, 2015.
“Time, Law and Human Rights in Truth and Reconciliation Processes regarding Indigenous Peoples”, in Wilton Littlechild and Elsa Stamatopoulou (eds.) , 2014, Access of Indigenous Peoples to Justice, including Truth and Reconciliation Processes, pp. 195-206, Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University.
"The Role of Research and Academia in Indigenous Peoples’ Issues: Interculturality in the Making”, in Unsettling Discourses: The Theory and Practice of Indigenous Studies, pp. 249-272, Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines Baguio, 2014, Baguio City, Philippines, Publisher: Cordillera Studies Center.
“Taking Cultural Rights Seriously: The Vision of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, pp 387-412, in The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2011, Stephen Allen and Alexandra Xanthaki eds., Hart Publishing Ltd., Oxford and Portland, Oregon.
“Culture and Diversity: Should development efforts seek to preserve local cultures?” in Controversies in Globalization: Contending Approaches to International Relations, Peter M. Haas, John A. Hird and Beth McBratney (eds.), University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Congressional Quarterly Press, Washington, D.C., 2009, pp 334-344.
“The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues”, in International Human Rights Monitoring Mechanisms: Essays in Honour of Jacob Th. Moller, 2009, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers/Kluwer Law International.
“Indigenous Peoples and Indicators of Well-Being”, Aboriginal Policy Research, Vol. III, 2006, pp 229-233, J. White, S. Wingert, D. Beavon and P. Maxim eds., Thompson Educational Publishing Inc., Toronto, Ontario.
“The Human Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families”, Olympia III: Human Rights in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Human Rights Education Programme for Southeastern Europe (Nafplion, Greece, 2-10 September 2003), M. Gavouneli and V. Kyriakopoulos (eds.), 2003, Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens/Komotini.
“Protection of National Minorities and Kin States: an International Perspective”, Protection of Minorities by Their Kin States, 2002, Publication of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, Council of Europe, Collection “Science and technique for democracy” No. 32, pp 85-105.
“The Good Offices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Human Rights Issues: Past Practice and Future Challenges” in Justice Pending: Indigenous Peoples and Other Good Causes, Essays in honour of Erica-Irene Daes, pp.174-185, 2002, G. Alfredsson and M. Stavropoulou (eds.), Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague/London/New York.
“The United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms” in Olympia II: Human Rights in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Human Rights Education Programme for Southeastern Europe (Ancient Olympia, Greece, 8-16 September 2001), M. Gavouneli and V. Kyriakopoulos (eds.), 2002, Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens/Komotini.
Human Rights Norms and Mechanisms to the Integration of Human Rights in Peace and Security and in Development” in Human Rights in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the 1st Annual Human Rights Education Programme for Southeastern Europe (Ancient Olympia, Greece, 17 to 27 September 2000) M.Vassiliou, H. Psomiades (eds.), Human Rights Defence Centre,, Ant. Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens-Komotini, 2001.
“Integrating Human Rights in the Preventive Action of the United Nations” In The Prevention of Human Rights Violations, pp 181-194, L-A Sicilianos ed., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague/New York/London), Ant. Sakkoulas Publishers (Athens), 2000.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Fifty Years Later: Realities Beyond Ideology” in 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948-1998, pp143-152, Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens-Thessaloniki, 1999.
“Violations of Human Rights: UN Action from the Victim’s Perspective” in International Responses to Traumatic Stress, Danieli, Rodley, Weisaeth eds., Baywood Publishing Co., New York, 1995.
“Women’s Human Rights and the United Nations”, Women’s Rights, Human Rights: International Feminist Perspectives, pp 36-48, J. Peters and A. Wolper eds., Routledge, New York, 1994.
"Monitoring Cultural Human Rights: The Claims of Culture on Human Rights and the Response of Cultural Rights”, Human Rights Quarterly
Volume 34, Number 4, November 2012
“The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues” in The Indigenous World 2010, pp 570-575, 2010, International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen.
“Cultural Rights and Contemporary Realities” (in Greek) in Armenopoulos Law Journal, July 2006, Thessaloniki.
“Reflections on Culture and Cultural Rights”, Bruce Robbins and Elsa Stamatopoulou, And Justice for All? The Claims of Human Rights, Ian Balfour and Eduardo Cadava eds., South Atlantic Quarterly, 2004, pp 421-436.
“Violence in the Family: a UN human rights perspective” in Breaking the Silence, pp 48-52, Conference Proceedings, Zappeion, Athens,15-16 June 2000, KETHI/European Union/General Secretariat for Equality/YPEGDA.
“The Importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Past and Future of the United Nations’ Human Rights Efforts”, ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, Nova Southeastern University, pp 281-289, Vol.5: 281,1999.
“The Development of United Nations Mechanisms for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”, Washington and Lee University Law Review, pp 687-696, Vol. 55, No.3, Summer 1998.
“Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations: Human Rights as a Developing Dynamic”, Human Rights Quarterly, pp 58-81, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Feb. 1994, Vol.16.I.
“Human Rights and the United Nations”, Middle States Council for the Social Studies Journal, pp 18-25, Vol. X, Fall 1988.
Contributing editor to the World Policy Journal, Vol. XXXIV, No 4, Winter 2017/2018 devoted to the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Editorial, with Bruce Robbins, for Sygchnona Themata (Σύγχρονα Θέματα), "First Thoughts after the American Election of November 8”, Athens, Greece, December 2016.
Interview for YES! Magazine (Jenni Monet) on the Standing Rock Sioux, North Dakota Access Pipeline, 22 September 2016.
“Τhe significance of Cavafy today” , C.P. Cavafy Chair at the University of Michigan, on the occasion of the year 2013 marking 150 years since Cavafy's birth and 80 years since his death, celebration of this double anniversary on the web page "Cavafy Forum", 2013.
TEDx Αcademy, Athens, 25 September 2012, Local communities on paths towards the future: Can we use our cultural and social characteristics to overcome the crisis? [in Greek].
Contribution to the Consultation of Experts on Access to Cultural Heritage as a Human Right, organized by Ms. Farida Shaheed, Independent Expert on cultural right, United Nations, Geneva on 9, 10, and 11 February 2011.
Paper submitted to the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights for the Day of General Discussion on the Right to Participate in Cultural Life (article 15(1)(a) of the Covenant, UN document E/C.12/40/9, 9 May 2008.