Professor Cécile Aptel joined The Fletcher School in 2011, initially as a full-time tenure-track associate professor of international law.  She is now Professor of Practice of International Law while serving as the Deputy Director of UNIDIR. She is also a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. Until 2020, she was director of policy, strategy and knowledge at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

A recognized expert in the areas of child rights, transitional justice and international criminal justice, she has over 20 years of experience in international affairs, working primarily with the U.N., managing legal and policy programs, notably at the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the International Independent Investigation Commission, and the U.N. Internal Oversight Services.

Prof. Aptel has also worked for the European Union, think-tanks and NGOs, including the International Centre for Transitional Justice, where she established and directed the Program on Children and Transitional Justice. She was awarded the Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship by the United States Institute of Peace in 2010 for her work on child protection, was invited to brief the UN Security Council on children and armed conflicts, and has published extensively on child rights and international law.

Courses Taught

Selected Publications and Presentations


Aptel, “How the pandemic questions humanitarian aid.” Humanitarian Aid on the Move No. 22 (2021): 26-32 (

Aptel, Siegrist, and Affolter. "Transitional Justice and Children: Prioritizing Child Protection and Education Reform." Handbook of Political Violence and Children, Oxford University Press (2020): 508-540.

Aptel, and Nagler. "Children and Transitional Justice." International Journal of Transitional Justice 13, no. 1 (2018): 185-195.

Aptel, "Child Slaves and Child Brides" (Journal of International Criminal Justice, Oxford Uni. Press, 2016)

Aptel, "The Rights of Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law: a Human Rights' Perspective" (Africa and the ICC, 10 Years On, 2015)

Aptel, "Des limites et du potentiel de la justice pénale internationale" (Etudes interculturelles, 2014)


Aptel. "The protection of children in armed conflicts." International Human Rights of Children, Springer (2019): 515-536.

"The Rights of Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law: a Human Rights’ Perspective”, Africa and the ICC, 10 Years On, (2014).

"Unpunished Crimes: The Special Court for Sierra Leone and Children" (The Sierra Leone Special Court and Its Legacy, Cambridge Uni. Press 2014)

Entries on international criminal jurisdictions, and on children and transitional justice, Encyclopaedia of Transitional Justice, Cambridge University Press (2014).