"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

Joanna McGibbon, JD


Joanna McGibbon is an Interim Legal Specialist with the Office of the General Counsel at Open Society Foundations.

Prior to joining OSF, Joanna was a Gender Justice Consultant for UN Women, where she provided advice to UN Women staff on promoting women’s human rights, access to justice, CEDAW compliance and gender responsive governance in the Pacific and the Caribbean regions. She previously served as a Legal and Human Rights Officer at Independent Diplomat, where she developed advice in diplomacy and communications strategy for governments and political groups that have been marginalized in international diplomacy, specializing in accountability issues related to the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Joanna has prior experience in corporate law, working as an associate at Proskauer Rose, representing private and public clients in general corporate matters, including transactions in mergers and acquisitions, finance, securities and private funds. Joanna’s pro bono work includes representation of arts-related entities through formation and obtaining 501(c)(3) exempt status and serving as a mediator at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts on various matters.

Joanna serves as a Senior Advisor to the International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD), a human rights organization working to combat structural discrimination against marginalised groups around the world.

Joanna has a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she served as a Notes Editor for the New York University Law Review. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Government.


On May 17, 2019, ICAAD Advisor Erin Thomas’ publication: Compacts of Free Association in FSM, RMI, and Palau: Implications for the 2023-2024 Renewal Negotiations (hrbrief.org/2019/03/compacts-of-free-association-in-fsm-rmi-and-palau-implications-for-the-2023-2...) was cited by the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau Jr., in an op-ed published in The Hill (thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/444291-pacific-defense-pact-renewal-vital-to-the-u...). In her piece, Erin points to critical issues stakeholders have raised regarding human trafficking, adoption policies, and COFA migrant rights among other important human rights issues.

Some of the above-mentioned policy gaps span several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly 10 (reduced inequalities) and 17 (partnership for the goals). Holistically, the existing COFA agreements represent the type of inequity that SDG 10 seeks to address. SDG 17 promotes inclusive and participatory decision-making at the international, national, and local levels. Developing transparency on both sides will allow for a more equitable process and outcome for the renewal negotiations.

The issues within the existing agreements also involve SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) and limited access to justice regarding redress for nuclear testing and environmental destruction. This impacts targets and indicators including SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 3 (good health and well-being). Finally, SDG 10 and 8’s targets for responsible migration policies are important considering the limited provisions for COFA migrants in the U.S. and U.S. territories.
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