This seminar will explore the history, tools, and critiques of the domestic human rights movement and the legal and practical challenges of human rights implementation in the United States. U.S. lawyers are increasingly integrating international human rights law and strategies to advance their domestically-focused advocacy efforts. Domestic implementation of human rights, including engagement with international human rights mechanisms, use of international human rights and comparative foreign law in United States courts, and broader activism such as documentation, organizing and education, offers an arsenal of cross-cutting strategies and highlights the interdependence and indivisibility of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
Through this seminar, students will explore the United States' role in developing international human right norms and institutions after World War II, alongside the U.S. "exceptionalist" posture, and gain a firm grounding in the relevant international human rights standards and the historical context of the contemporary U.S. human rights movement. We will examine the ways in which advocates have sought, in recent years, to incorporate human rights discourse and practice into domestic efforts to advance rights defense and promotion in general, and institutional responses to those efforts. Course materials will explore a range of domestic human rights concerns, including access to justice, immigration, rights of indigenous peoples, counterterrorism and human rights, disparities in access to health care, and the right to housing, as well as fundamental issues of federalism, sovereignty, judicial review and legal ethics. We'll look at litigation efforts, as well as non-litigation strategies, including engaging U.N. mechanisms and mobilizing grassroots communities.
Through course materials and discussion, we will explore the promise of domestic human rights strategies, and related challenges and limitations. We will also hear from guest speakers who will share their experiences engaging human rights standards and strategies to further their organizations' domestic advocacy efforts. In addition, over the course of the semester, students will deepen their own skills in research and advocacy by participating in in-class exercises related to strategy development, drafting for legal and non-legal audiences, and oral and written advocacy.