Bonnie Docherty

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Bonnie Docherty is a senior researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. She is also a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and director of the clinic’s Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative. She has done extensive field research on the civilian effects of war and has worked on the negotiation and implementation of multiple disarmament treaties.

Docherty has worked in the field of humanitarian disarmament since 2001 as lawyer, field researcher, and scholar. Her fact-finding and legal analysis contributed to the adoption of the 2022 Political Declaration on the Protection of Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. 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), the civil society coalition that received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Docherty also documented the use of cluster munitions in numerous armed conflicts and participated in the negotiations of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. She continues to work on the interpretation and implementation of all three instruments.

In addition, Docherty’s many publications on fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots,” have shaped civil society arguments for a treaty on weapons that would select and engage targets without meaningful human control. She has spearheaded global efforts to strengthen international law on incendiary weapons.

Docherty has done legal research and field research on other issues related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict more broadly and has additional expertise in the field of human rights and the environment. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her A.B. from Harvard University.

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