Jacob Kopas is a staff attorney on the International Program team. Jacob is based in New York.
Prior to joining Earthjustice, Jacob worked four years as an attorney with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), helping to coordinate their Human Rights and the Environment program out of AIDA’s office in Bogotá, Colombia. Jacob contributed to AIDA’s litigation before international human rights bodies such as the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, as well as legal advocacy protecting the rights of indigenous and campesino communities struggling against mining, large dams, and other extractive industries or large infrastructure projects. He also worked two years with a human rights NGO, the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz in Colombia, supporting indigenous, afro-descendant, and campesino communities resisting displacement in the face of armed conflict and extractive projects.
Jacob graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007, where he worked extensively in the Harvard Human Rights Clinic on issues related to indigenous people’s rights, criminal justice reform, and transnational human rights litigation, among others. During law school, he also dedicated a semester to study Chilean constitutional law and human rights at the University of Chile and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Following graduation, Jacob was awarded a Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies fellowship to work with the NGO Tierrviva in Paraguay. There he worked on litigation supporting indigenous Enxet and Sarapaná communities struggling to recover their traditional territory in the Paraguayan Chaco.
Jacob also holds a Ph.D in Political Science from Columbia University in New York, where he conducted research on environmental politics, the politics of human rights, and social movements. He was the lead author on a recent study on environmental justice in Ecological Economics and has several forthcoming publications on deforestation and environmental policies in South America.
Although born and raised in Michigan, Jacob has spent over nine years living and working in Latin America, including time in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Peru. Jacob is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese.
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