I have a strong record of victories on behalf of sovereign States in high-stakes international disputes.
Clara Brillembourg specializes in counseling sovereign States in international disputes against other States, foreign investors, and U.S. plaintiffs, as well as representing companies in international commercial arbitration. She was awarded 2021 “MVP of the Year” for International Arbitration by Law 360. Clara has also been ranked among the top 35 women attorneys in international arbitration by Latinvex.
In 2020, she and her colleagues in the International Litigation & Arbitration Department were honored as “Firm of the Year” by both Law 360 and Jus Mundi. In 2021, Clara was awarded “Pro Bono Team of the Year” by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) for her work on behalf of child immigrants. She has been recognized as a leader in international arbitration by Who’s Who Arbitration, Chambers, Global Arbitration Review, and Legal 500.
In her investment and commercial arbitration practice, she offers extensive experience representing sovereigns in international arbitrations before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and other prominent arbitral fora. Among her victories, she successfully defended Uruguay in an ICSID arbitration brought by Philip Morris challenging the State’s tobacco control regulations. As a result, she continues to counsel States in regulation and litigation relating to tobacco control. Her cases cover various industries including, energy, mining, telecommunications, aviation, construction, and health care under ICSID, UNCITRAL, SCC and ICC Rules, valued in amounts ranging from hundreds of millions to over $7 billion. She is listed by the EU as a Chairperson for Trade & Sustainable Development expert panel proceedings in EU trade agreement disputes, and as an arbitrator by the Peru International Court of Arbitration.
In her public international law practice, Clara has successfully represented States before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in disputes involving territorial rights, human rights and environmental harm, including Ecuador v. Colombia (concerning harms caused by aerial spraying of herbicides), Georgia v. Russia (concerning ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and Uruguay v. Argentina (regarding international environmental protection and sustainable development). She also has substantial experience counseling States in maritime boundary disputes before the ICJ, UNCLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunals, and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Recent cases include Ghana v. Cȏte d’Ivoire (ITLOS Special Chamber), Bangladesh v. Myanmar (ITLOS), Bangladesh v. India (PCA, Annex VII), and Nicaragua v. Colombia (ICJ).
Her representation of foreign States also includes domestic litigation before U.S. federal courts involving foreign sovereign immunity, in which she has successfully petitioned for each case to be dismissed in the initial stage of the proceeding and won on appeal.
Clara also offers a unique specialty counseling States in securing high priority extraditions of individuals from the United States. Her work involves advising States through the presentation of extradition requests, the consideration of the requests by the Departments of State and Justice, and the litigation of the requests before U.S. courts. She is currently counseling Peru in the extradition of its former president Alejandro Toledo, who faces charges of bribery and money laundering.
Clara is regularly invited to speak on investment arbitration, public international law, and maritime boundary delimitation. She chairs the Rising Leaders Council at the Meridian International Center, which brings together young leaders from the foreign diplomatic community with professionals from the U.S. Government, corporations, multilateral agencies, and media to exchange ideas on international policy. She also currently serves on the Board for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
Before joining Foley Hoag, Clara worked in the World Bank’s Environment and African Human Development Departments, focused on the bank’s legal policies concerning environment and indigenous peoples, and implementing development projects in Africa.