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William J. Aceves

The Dean Steven R. Smith Professor of Law

LL.M. University of California, Los Angeles [international law]
M.A. Harvard University [government]
J.D. University of Southern California
M.A. University of Southern California [international relations]
B.A. Claremont McKenna College [international relations]
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Constitutional Law; International Law; Human Rights Law; Foreign Affairs Law

Professor Aceves graduated from the University of Southern California with a J.D. and M.A. in International Relations. After practicing law for two years, Professor Aceves returned to academia to earn an M.A. in Government at Harvard University and an LL.M. in International Law at the UCLA School of Law. He also served as the Ford Foundation Fellow in International Law at the UCLA School of Law. In 1998, he joined the faculty at California Western School of Law. He was promoted to Professor of Law in 2001. He served as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs from 2007-2014.

Professor Aceves frequently works with Amnesty International, the Center for Justice & Accountability, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union on projects involving the domestic application of international law. He has also represented several human rights and civil liberties organizations as amicus curiae counsel in cases before the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Aceves is the author of The Anatomy of Torture and the coauthor of The Law of Consular Access. He co-edited Lessons and Legacies of the War on Terror. He is also the principal author of the influential Amnesty International USA Safe Haven report. He has published numerous articles on human rights and international law. He served as the co-chair for the 101st Annual Meeting of American Society of International Law.

Professor Aceves has served on the National Boards of Amnesty International USA and the International Law Students Association. He has also served as the AIUSA Ombudsperson. He currently serves on the Boards of the Center for Justice & Accountability and the American Civil Liberties Union. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association. Professor Aceves has appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Migrants, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Aceves is admitted to the State Bar of California, the U.S. District Courts for the Central and Southern Districts of California, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the First Circuit, Second Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • Lessons and Legacies in the War on Terror (Gershon Shafir, Everard Meade & William J. Aceves eds., 2012).
  • John Quigley, William J. Aceves & S. Adele Shank, The Law of Consular Access (2010).
  • William J. Aceves, The Anatomy of Torture: A Documentary History of Filartiga v. Pena-Irala (2007).

Book Chapters

  • William J. Aceves, Using Transnational Litigation to Protect the Amazon: A Study of Corporate Liability, in Amazonia: Environment and the Law in Amazonia 36 (James M. Cooper & Christine Hunefeldt eds., 2013).
  • William J. Aceves, Constitutional Barriers and the Perils of Impunity, in Lessons and Legacies in the War on Terror 49 (Gershon Shafir, Everard Meade & William J. Aceves eds., 2012).
  • William J. Aceves, Human Rights Law and the Use of Incapacitating Biochemical Weapons, in Incapacitating Biochemical Weapons: Promise or Peril? 261 (Alan M. Pearson et al. eds., 2007).


  • William J. Aceves, Two Stories about Skin Color and International Human Rights Advocacy, 14 Wash. U. Glob. Stud. L. Rev. 563 (2015).
  • William J. Aceves, United States v. George Tenet: A Federal Indictment for Torture, 48 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 1 (2015).
  • William J. Aceves, Litigating the Arab-Israeli Conflict in U.S. Courts: Critiquing the Lawfare Critique, 43 Case W. Res. J. Int’l L. 313 (2011).
  • James M. Cooper, William J. Aceves, Alejandro Gonzalez & Pedro Egana, The Life Cycle of Immigration: A Tale of Two Migrants, 6 Rutgers J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 259 (2009).