Scott Carlson is Senior Director for Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative
Scott Carlson has more than 25 years of experience designing, managing, and evaluating human rights assistance, rule of law, and democracy and governance programs around the globe. Previously, he served as Technical Director of the Department of State/Afghanistan Interagency Rule of Law Bureau that included representatives from DOD, USAID, DOJ, and NATO, for which he provided technical direction and leadership of joint planning and evaluation based on lessons learned and best practices gleaned from program implementation throughout Afghanistan for upwards of $100M in programming. Over the course of his career, he has worked in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi, Egypt, El Salvador, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Mali, Paraguay, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Ukraine, United States of America, Uzbekistan, and more, including six years of overseas implementation. Moreover, he has provided a wide array of legal technical assistance. Mr. Carlson worked with USAID/Egypt developing a Mission Project Appraisal Document (PAD), including an analysis of the Human Rights implications of the new constitution. He also served as an Expert Commentator on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and he provided an expert opinion on the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in successful U.S. national litigation.
When previously at the ABA, he oversaw, and led innovative legal assistance programming, including groundbreaking data collection, analysis, and testimony in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and developing the Judicial Reform Index (JRI). He has advised governments and analyzed the justice sector in a variety of contexts, including Albania, Cambodia, Côte d'Ivoire, Haiti, Kosovo, Lebanon, and Thailand. His expertise has led to formal education of judges and lawyers on international human rights, utilization of these international standards in multiple national courts, and adoption of new technology to encourage and safeguard human rights litigants, e.g., a national video system in Kazakhstan. While at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Mr. Carlson designed and managed an inclusive, participatory constitution drafting process with a Venice Commission vetted set of human rights standards, resulting in the first, and only, permanent post-communist constitution and a UN recognized example of a good governance practice.
Furthermore, Mr. Carlson’s legal expertise has been tested in international fora: serving as Deputy Legal Advisor for Human Rights, Independent International Commission on Kosovo; litigating successfully at the European Court of Human Rights; and representing the U.S. Government at the UN Access to Justice Working Group, which led to the adoption of A/RES/67/187, United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. He graduated with honors in law from Georgetown University, L.L.M. in International and Comparative Law, and the University of Georgia, Juris Doctor.