Leila Hanafi

International Lawyer

Leila Hanafi is a Moroccan-American international development lawyer with the World Bank Group and the President of international development law firm ARPA Dispute Resolution. Most recently, she served as a Commissioner on the Moroccan Inter-Governmental Commission on Policy Dialogue on Constitutional Prerogatives.

Leila is the recipient of the inaugural  Doctoral Law Scholarship at a top 20 UK  Law School where her research focuses on women’s access to justice through the lens of national and international law in the Middle East and North Africa and a published academic  on women and the law in the MENA region, notably Morocco. Her research and teaching specializations include Women & the Law, Rule of Law, International Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Human Rights Law, Comparative law, and International Organizations and her academic degrees are in international law from Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University.

Her publications include  Morocco’s 2004 Family Code: Improving Access to Justice for Women. (co-authored with Christine Pratt) in Women and Knowledge in the Mediterranean (Routledge: New York 2013) and Transnational Family Law & Women’s Rights– Comparative Case Studies of Denmark and Morocco (The Danish Center for Research and Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity KVINFO and Copenhagen University, 2014).

In all her legal leadership positions with international organizations like the World Bank, the World Justice Project, and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Leila was responsible for delivering international development law, technical assistance, authoring policy-oriented documentation, and working on academic research, including,   on women’s legal empowerment, at the socio-economic levels.

As the winner of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Youth Innovation Fund, Leila spearheaded a novice economic empowerment model program for young women from disenfranchised regions, which was later adopted by the Moroccan Government for expansion, at the national level. Her recent awards include the Young Leadership & Innovation Award by the Society for International Development in Washington DC.


BASED IN: Between Rabat, Morocco and Washington DC, USA

LANGUAGES: English, Arabic and French.



Beyond the Law: Protecting Morocco’s Women, Al Jazeera English, February 2014

The Arab Women in Business and Leadership Summit, co-chaired and co-sponsored by Leila Hanafi, Dubai September 2014

The Significance of International Women’s Day in the Arab World, the Global Herald, March 2011