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. This fall, a special section of the clinic will focus on advocating for human rights in the United States. Students participating in the Clinic attend a seminar class and deeply engage in project work outside of the class room.
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, provides an arsenal of cross-cutting strategies and highlights the interdependence and indivisibility of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
The seminar component will contextualize and explore the growing movement to incorporate international human rights strategies into domestic advocacy and law, while preparing students to thoughtfully utilize these tools in their own practice of law. The class will explore the United States' role in the development of 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 also examine the ways in which advocates have sought, in recent years, to incorporate human rights discourse and practice into their domestic efforts to advance rights defense and promotion in general and institutional responses to those efforts. Through course materials and discussion, students will explore the promise of domestic human rights strategies, as well as related challenges and limitations.
To develop fundamental lawyering and advocacy skills in human rights practice, students will participate in tailored exercises and simulations and engage with a variety of human rights and social justice organizations. Clinic classes will foster skills relating to international legal research, 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 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, students contribute to positive change locally and globally as they hone their professional skills.
Clinic projects for the fall will focus on research and advocacy related to human rights implementation in the United States, including collaborations with NGOs engaged in diverse forms of engagement with the human rights framework and human rights mechanisms. This work will build on human rights clinic work from past years. In previous years, human rights clinic students have represented juveniles sentenced to life without parole before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; 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 extreme poverty, and housing and the criminalization of poverty; and drafted shadow reports on U.S. compliance with human rights treaties. Students have engaged with a variety of advocates and government officials to foster greater recognition and implementation of human rights norms.
Through this clinic, students will have the opportunity to develop a strong foundation in domestic human rights advocacy strategies. The project work students begin in the fall semester will continue in the spring semester. There is a presumption that students in the fall semester clinic will participate in the spring semester clinic class as well.
M 3 –4:50 p.m.
R 4:20 –6:10 p.m.
WH 1001WH 1001
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 10 students, including JDs and LL.M.s, will be admitted.