Ambassador (ret.) Keith Harper

Former U.S. Permanent Representative UN Human Rights Council

Ambassador (ret.) Keith M. Harper rejoined the firm in February 2017 following his service as the United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland since 2014. Ambassador Harper became the inaugural Senior Non-Resident Fellow on National Security at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs in March 2017. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, focuses his practice on Native American affairs, litigation, and international clients from the private as well as the public sector. Throughout his career, he has represented tribes and individual Indians. Among other matters, Ambassador Harper since inception of the case, represented the plaintiff class of 500,000 individual Indians and served as class counsel in the landmark Indian trust funds lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar. Ultimately the case settled for $3.4 billion in 2009, which represents the largest settlement of a lawsuit against the United States in history.

Previously, Ambassador Harper was a partner with the firm in its Washington, D.C. office where he continues to practice today. From 2010 to 2014, Ambassador Harper served as Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. He also served as a Chair for Native American policy in the 2008 Obama For America presidential campaign and then as a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team in the Energy & Environment Cluster. Prior to joining the firm, he was Senior Staff Attorney and head of the Washington, D.C. office of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) from 1995 to 2006. During his tenure at NARF, he also taught Federal Indian Law as an adjunct professor at Catholic University Columbus School of Law and at American University Washington College of Law. Ambassador Harper served as a Supreme Court Justice on the Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians from 2007 to 2008 and as an Appellate Justice on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court from 2001 to 2007.

While attending New York University School of Law, Ambassador Harper served as Articles & Notes Editor of the Journal of International Law & Politics, was a Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar and a Fellow at Center for International Studies. After graduation, he was law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Ambassador Harper is the recipient of numerous awards and other recognition, including: National Congress of American Indians Special Recognition Award (2017); Cherokee National Statesman Award (2014); American Bar Association “Human Rights Hero” (2014); election to membership at the American Law Institute (2012); the Native American Bar Association, DC, Award for Significant Contributions to Indian Law and Policy (2012); LawDragon 500 (top 500 lawyers in United States) (2010); selection as one of 50 “Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal (2008); Service Award by Annual People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference for Achievements and Commitments to Justice (2010); Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2009-2013); The Best Lawyers in America® (2009-2013); Washington D.C. "Super Lawyer" by SuperLawyers magazine (2010, 2012-2013); N.Y.U. Black, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Association Outstanding Professional Achievement Honor (2009); Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation of Leaders Fellow (2002-04); University of Arizona School of Law - IPLP Colloquium Senior Fellow (2003); Henry H. Fowler Fellow on Public Policy, Roanoke College (1999); Skadden, Arps Fellow (1995-97).

Vision Statement

The United Nations is the extant manifestation of a simple proposition that an international community united in purpose and objective is essential for greater stability, security and prosperity for all. I would join UNA-NCA to advocate for the multilateral system and its objectives while at the same time addressing some of the United Nation’s imperfections. In addition, it is necessary in a world where human rights and rule of law are under assault at home and abroad, that we unite in support of these key principles.

Professional & Community Activities

Women at the Table, Board Member
American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, Special Advisor
American Constitution Society, Board Member
Americans for Democratic Action, Past Board Member
American Red Cross, National Diversity Council, Past Chair
World Organization for Human Rights, Past Board Member
Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C., Past President
Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, Past Board Member


New York University School of Law, J.D. (1994)
University of California, Berkeley, B.A., Sociology and Psychology (1990)

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