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Dr Orly Maya Stern is a researcher, consultant and human rights lawyer from South Africa. She is an authority on international law, gender, human rights and security, particularly in countries affected by conflict and instability. Over the past decade she has worked and conducted research in numerous countries, including Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.


Research + Writing

Orly conducts rigorous, in-depth field research in some of the world’s most embattled environments. She has led research projects and designed methodologies and research tools for various humanitarian organisations, research institutions and NGOs. She has published extensively – from books, articles, reports, media pieces and desk reviews. Her latest book, which conducts a feminist critique of the laws of war, was published in mid 2018.


Orly works as a consultant to humanitarian organisations, NGOs and other development entities. This work includes everything from the development of strategies and standard operating procedures for programmes, to evaluations and assessments, to the writing of policy documents and guidance, as clients require.

Training + Facilitation

Much of Orly’s work involves conducting training for teams in the field, on topics such as human rights law, protection and sexual and gender-based violence. She has extensive experience training government employees and police, as well as civil society actors, in a range of countries. She also runs workshops and facilitates discussions and strategy sessions.


As an authority in her field, Orly is a speaker and presenter at numerous international conferences and events.


Orly holds a PhD in law from the London School of Economics, for which she conducted a feminist critique of international humanitarian law (the laws of war). She holds an LL.M in international human rights law from Harvard Law School. Orly has taught international criminal law to Masters Students at the University of Cape Town. She has held a senior fellowship with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University, and a visiting fellowship at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. Trained as a lawyer and admitted as an attorney in South Africa, she also earned degrees in law and in psychology from the University of Cape Town.

  • Visiting Fellow of Practice, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University
  • Senior Fellow – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University
  • PhD – London School of Economics and Political Science
    (International humanitarian law)
  • LL.M – Harvard University
    (International human rights law)
  • LL.B – University of Cape Town (Law)
  • BA – University of Cape Town (Psychology)


Orly’s expertise spans international law (in particular international humanitarian law and international human rights law), armed conflict, gender and gender-based violence, human rights, and access to justice and security.

Thematic areas include the following:

  • Armed conflict
  • Gender and SGBV (sexual and gender based violence)
  • Countering violent extremism
  • Access to justice / rule of law
  • Security sector reform (police reform, disarmament demobilization and reintegration)
  • Human rights and international human rights law
  • International humanitarian law
  • Qualitative research


  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • World Bank
  • UK Department for International Development (DFID)
  • UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)
  • European Union
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA)
  • World Economic Forum
  • Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Georgetown University
  • International Rescue Committee
  • American Refugee Committee
  • Diakonia
  • Oxfam
  • American Bar Association
  • Social Development Direct
  • Adam Smith International
  • Small Arms Survey – Human Security Baseline Assessment
  • Institute for Security Studies
  • Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
  • Media Legal Defense Initiative
  • Medica Mondiale
  • Nonviolent Peaceforce
  • Proximity
  • IsraAid
  • Justice Studio
  • Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone
  • Sonke Gender Justice Network
  • Treatment Action Campaign
  • Safety and Violence Initiative, University of Cape Town
  • The Development Initiative

South Africa/ WhatsApp: +27 72 580 8400

Skype: orlymaya2000