Ask a land rights defender if there is a human right to land, and she will likely say “Yes, without a doubt.” For people around the world, land is a source of food, shelter, and livelihoods; it’s an economic asset, a crucial safety net, a link with culture and social identity, even a living relative or ancestor. Given their importance, land rights are surely human rights.
Kaitlin Y. Cordes developed and leads the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment’s work on investments in land and agriculture, as well as the Center's work on the intersection of human rights and international investments. At the Center, Kaitlin conducts and supervises research; creates resources and tools; designs and lectures at trainings; provides technical and advisory support on land and human rights issues; and convenes cutting-edge dialogue. Prior to joining CCSI, she worked with the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch and served as an advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food (Olivier De Schutter). She also has worked with a range of social justice organizations in the United States and India, and clerked for Justice Virginia A. Long of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. She holds a bachelor of arts in Political Science and International Studies from Northwestern University and a juris doctor from Columbia Law School, where she was a James Kent Scholar, a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar, and recipient of the Valentin J.T. Wertheimer Prize and a Parker School Certificate in Foreign and Comparative Law. She is admitted to the bar in New York.