Photo of Bonnie Docherty

Bonnie Docherty

Director of IHRC's Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative
Senior Clinical Instructor
Lecturer on Law

Bonnie Docherty is a Lecturer on Law at the International Human Rights Clinic and Director of its Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative. She is also a Senior Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. 

Docherty has done extensive work in the field of humanitarian disarmament as lawyer, field researcher, and scholar. She played a key role in the negotiations of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, providing legal advice to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. She was deeply involved in the negotiations of the 2022 political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. She continues to work on the implementation of these instruments.   

Docherty’s many publications have helped shaped civil society arguments for a new treaty on autonomous weapons systems, and she has spearheaded efforts to strengthen international law on incendiary weapons

In addition to disarmament and other civilian protection issues, Docherty has expertise in the field of human rights and the environment. She has developed principles for addressing the environmental impacts of armed conflict, examined the effects of mining on disadvantaged and indigenous communities, and written about the problem of climate change migration. 

Docherty received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her A.B. from Harvard University. Docherty worked full-time at Human Rights Watch before joining IHRC in 2005. Prior to law school, she spent three years as a journalist. 

Recent News

The Harvard Gazette: ‘Killer robots’ are coming, and U.N. is worried

Liz Mineo | Jan 16, 2024

From War to Freedom in a Wheelchair: A Syrian Refugee’s Story of Survival 

Talish Babaian, JD ’25, International Human Rights Clinic | Nov 20, 2023

Implementing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Clinic Recommends Next Steps

Jacqulyn Kantack, JD ’24, Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic | Nov 02, 2023

New Humanitarian Disarmament Resource Launched: Harvard ACCPI Brochure

Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) | Oct 30, 2023

Harvard Law Today: Providing cluster munitions has ‘changed the nature of U.S. involvement’ in Ukraine, says Harvard Law expert

Rachel Reed, Harvard Law Today | Aug 09, 2023

U.S. Cluster Munition Transfer to Ukraine Ignores History of Civilian Harm

Bonnie Docherty, Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic | Jul 14, 2023

Clinic Publications

Advancing Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW: Implementation, Reporting, and a Trust Fund

International Human RIghts Clinic | Nov 02, 2023

2023 Humanitarian Disarmament Brochure

Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) | Oct 30, 2023

Incendiary Weapons: Recent Developments and Use

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | May 30, 2023

Reporting Guidelines for Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Precedent and Recommendations

International Human Rights Clinic | May 18, 2023

Review of the 2023 US Policy on Autonomy in Weapon Systems

International Human Rights Clinic & Human Rights Watch | Feb 16, 2023

Designing a Trust Fund for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Precedents and Proposals

International Human Rights Clinic | Jan 13, 2023

An Agenda for Action: Alternative Processes for Negotiating a Killer Robots Treaty

International Human Rights Clinic & Human Rights Watch | Nov 15, 2022

Unchecked Harm: The Need for Global Action on Incendiary Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic & Human Rights Watch | Nov 08, 2022

Safeguarding Civilians: A Humanitarian Interpretation of the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic & Human Rights Watch | Oct 26, 2022

Facing Fallout Principles for Environmental Remediation of
Nuclear Weapons Contamination

| Jun 15, 2022

Analysis of the Draft Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Apr 07, 2022

Crunch Time on Killer Robots

Bonnie Docherty | Dec 01, 2021

Areas of Alignment: Common Visions for a Killer Robots Treaty

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Aug 02, 2021

The Case for Condemnation: Denouncing All Use of Cluster Munitions

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Apr 22, 2021

Analysis of the Draft Elements of a Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Feb 23, 2021

Implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Dec 02, 2020

"They Burn Through Everything": The Human Cost of Incendiary Weapons and the Limits of International Law

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Nov 16, 2020

New Weapons, Proven Precedent: Elements of and Models for a Treaty on Killer Robots

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Oct 22, 2020

Confronting Conflict Pollution: Assisting Victims of Toxic Remnants of War

International Human Rights Clinic & Conflict and Environment Observatory | Sep 30, 2020

The Need for and Elements of a New Treaty on Fully Autonomous Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Jun 25, 2020

Key Questions and Answers on a Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Jun 11, 2020

Analysis of the Draft Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Apr 25, 2020

Analysis of the Draft Elements of a Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Feb 13, 2020

Standing Firm against Incendiary Weapons: Memorandum to Delegates of the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Nov 12, 2019

Humanitarian Disarmament, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and Japan

Bonnie Docherty, International Human Rights Clinic | Sep 04, 2019

Humanitarian Disarmament Brochure

Bonnie Docherty, Jillian Rafferty, and Wim Zwijnenburg; Armed Conflict & Civilian Protection Initiative | Aug 23, 2019

Submission to Alþingi Inquiry into Resolution 57/149, “Bann við kjarnorkuvopnum”

International Human Rights Clinic | Apr 30, 2019

Submission to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs regarding the Inquiry into the Consequences of a Swedish Accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic | Apr 30, 2019

Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Myths and Realities

International Human Rights Clinic | Apr 30, 2019

Myths and Realities About Incendiary Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Nov 16, 2018

Humanitarian Disarmament Conference Summary

Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative | Oct 12, 2018

Submission to the Nitijela's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade: Regarding Resolution 46 on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic | Jun 25, 2018

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Compact of Free Association Between the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the United States

International Human Rights Clinic | Jun 25, 2018

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Its Compatibility with Sweden's Security Arrangements

International Human Rights Clinic | Jun 07, 2018

Nuclear Umbrella Arrangements and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic | Jun 07, 2018

Environmental Remediation Under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic | Apr 11, 2018

Victim Assistance Under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic | Apr 11, 2018

An Overdue Review: Addressing Incendiary Weapons in the Contemporary Context

The International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Dec 08, 2017

Environmental Remediation in the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty: A Comprehensive and Detailed Approach

International Human Rights Clinic & Article 36 | Jun 30, 2017

Operating Under Fire: The Effects of Explosive Weapons on Health Care in the East of Ukraine

International Human Rights Clinic, PAX | May 11, 2017

Environmental remediation in the nuclear weapons ban treaty

The International Human Rights Clinic, Article 36 | Apr 25, 2017

Making the Case: The Dangers of Killer Robots and the Need for a Preemptive Ban

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Dec 09, 2016

Time to Act Against Incendiary Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Dec 08, 2016

The Cost of Gold

International Human Rights Clinic | Oct 08, 2016

Losing Control: The Dangers of Killer Robots

Bonnie Docherty; in The Conversation | Aug 08, 2016

Killer Robots and the Concept of Meaningful Human Control

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Apr 11, 2016

Tackling Tough Calls: Lessons from Recent Conflicts on Hostile Intent and Civilian Protection

International Human Rights CLinic | Mar 01, 2016

From Condemnation to Concrete Action: A Five-Year Review of Incendiary Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 08, 2015

Making a Commitment: Paths to Curbing the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

International Human Rights Clinic & Human Rights Watch | Jun 19, 2015

Mind the Gap: Lack of Accountability for 'Killer Robots'

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Apr 24, 2015

ACKNOWLEDGE, AMEND, ASSIST: Addressing Civilian Harm Caused by Armed Conflict and Armed Violence

Harvard Law School Human Rights Program and Action on Armed Violence | Apr 15, 2015

Incendiary Weapons: Recent Use and Growing Opposition

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 02, 2014

Staying Strong: Key Components and Positive Precedent for Convention on Cluster Munitions Legislation

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Sep 08, 2014

The Human Rights Implications of 'Killer Robots'

Bonnie Docherty; Jurist | Aug 11, 2014

Advancing the Debate on Killer Robots: 12 Key Arguments for a Preemptive Ban on Fully Autonomous Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Aug 03, 2014

Shaking the Foundation: The Human Rights Implications of Killer Robots

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | May 14, 2014

The Need for New Law to Ban Fully Autonomous Weapons: Memorandum to Convention on Conventional Weapons Delegates

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 13, 2013

Fully Autonomous Weapons: Questions and Answers

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Oct 30, 2013

Assistance Overdue: Ongoing Needs of Civilian Victims of Nepal's Armed Conflict

International Human Rights Clinic. Lead author: Bonnie Docherty | Oct 02, 2013

Review of the 2012 US Policy on Autonomy in Weapons Systems

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Apr 11, 2013

Government Positions on Protocol III on Incendiary Weapons

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 11, 2012

Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots

Joint publication: Human Rights Watch, International Human Rights Clinic | Nov 06, 2012

Submission to the Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Regarding Bill S-10 to Implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Oct 06, 2012

Explosive Situation: Qaddafi’s Abandoned Weapons and the Threat to Libya’s Civilians

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Center for Civilians in Conflict, and The Center for American Progress | Oct 06, 2012

Incendiary Weapons: Government Positions and Practices

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Apr 07, 2012

Legal Foundations for Making Amends to Civilians Harmed by Armed Conflict

International Human Rights Clinic. Lead authors: Andrew Childers, Anna Lamut, and Bonnie Docherty | Feb 08, 2012

Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 08, 2011

From Good to Bad: The Threat Posed to International Law by the Draft CCW Protocol on Cluster Munitions

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 08, 2011

Strengthening the Humanitarian Protections of Protocol III on Incendiary Weapons

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Aug 08, 2011

The Human Suffering Caused by Incendiary Munitions

International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Mar 11, 2011

Submission to the Australian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on the Inquiry into the Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Jan 08, 2011

Meeting the Challenge: Protecting Civilians Through the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Human Rights Watch. Lead author: Bonnie Docherty | Nov 08, 2010

Convention on Cluster Munitions: Q & A on Interoperability and the Prohibition on Assistance

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 08, 2010

The Need to Re-Visit Protocol III on Incendiary Weapons

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Nov 08, 2010

Bearing the Burden: The Effects of Mining on the Rights of First Nations in British Columbia.

International Human Rights Clinic. Lead authors: Bonnie Docherty, Susannah Knox, Lauren Pappone, and Anne Siders | Oct 08, 2010

Fulfilling the Ban: Guidelines for Effective National Legislation to Implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Watch | Jun 21, 2010

Good Faith Negotiations Leading to Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons: Request for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice

Joint publication: International Human Rights Clinic, International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Weapons | May 08, 2009

A Dying Practice: Use of Cluster Munitions by Russia and Georgia in August 2008

Human Rights Watch. Lead author: Bonnie Docherty | Apr 08, 2009

Flooding South Lebanon: Israel's Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon in July and August 2006

International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch | Feb 15, 2008

Flooding South Lebanon: Israel’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon in July and August 2006

Human Rights Watch. Lead author: Bonnie Docherty | Feb 08, 2008

User State Responsibility for Cluster Munitions Clearance

Human Rights Watch, International Human Rights Clinic | Feb 08, 2008

All that Glitters: Gold Mining in Guyana

International Human Rights Clinic. Lead author: Bonnie Docherty | Mar 08, 2007

“We Are Now Hoping for Death”: Grave Human Rights Abuses in Gambella, Ethiopia

International Human Rights Clinic. Lead author: Bonnie Docherty | Dec 01, 2006