Section Description Provided by Instructor
The Human Rights Clinic exposes students to the practice of law in the international and cross-cultural context of human rights litigation and advocacy. An intensive critical seminar examines the actors, subjects, tools of the human rights movement, as well as critiques coming from left and right. Specifically, the seminar considers the evolution of the human rights movement, how to locate litigation in human rights work, the difficulties in applying ?traditional? human rights methodology beyond the civil and political rights context, the developing human rights movement in the United States, the human rights implications of counterterrorism practices and economic issues that arise in human rights norms and analysis.
To develop fundamental lawyering and advocacy skills in human rights practice, students participate in tailored exercises and simulations. They also engage in discussion with visiting researchers and advocates from a variety of human rights and social justice organizations. Clinic classes focus on methods of international legal research and field research (i.e. interviews and fact investigations). In addition, classes explore advocacy methods, including media campaigning, human rights litigation, and direct advocacy with government officials.
To bridge theory and practice, the Human Rights Clinic provides students with hands-on experience working on active human rights cases and projects. The skills training imparted through classroom instruction and simulations is applied and tested in the context of real-world advocacy. Working in partnership with experienced attorneys and institutions engaged in human rights activism, both in the United States and abroad, students contribute to effecting positive change locally and globally as they hone their professional skills.
Clinic projects cover the full range of human rights advocacy, though in particular, initiatives focus on research and advocacy related to (1) human rights implementation in the United States, (2) counterterrorism practices in the U.S. and around the world, (3) challenges at the intersection of development, private investment and human rights, and (4) collaborations with NGOs engaged in diverse forms of engagement with the human rights framework and human rights mechanisms.
Over the years, students have represented juveniles sentenced to life without parole in the United States and ethnic Haitians subjected to mass expulsions by the Dominican Republic before the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights; presented on the legal implications of U.S. targeted killing practices in meetings with military lawyers and international law experts; advocated for and assisted in the review of mining contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Peru, and Liberia; worked with U.S. federal, state and local officials to develop effective strategies for local implementation of human rights; supported the work of UN Special Rapporteurs in the areas of housing and the criminalization of poverty; and drafted shadow reports on U.S. compliance with human rights treaties . The Clinic's recent work has taken students across the U.S. and to the Dominican Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Mexico, Peru and South Africa.
Participation in the clinic includes actual practice as well as a variety of pedagogical exercises (via weekly seminars, weekly team meetings with the professor, readings, and simulated exercises). All students should plan to devote 20 hours a week to clinic work. The clinic emphasizes problem solving in the international law context, core concepts in human rights law, as well as basic lawyering skills that are transferable and are designed to equip students for a variety of career paths.
MW 4:20 –6:10 p.m.
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (upon consultation), Major (only upon consultation)
A course in international law or human rights.
Completion of or enrollment in a basic human rights course strongly encouraged.
By permission of the instructors, up to 16 students will be admitted, including 2-3 LL.M.s