Clinics

International Human Rights Clinic

LW.11743 / LW.10819
Professor Smita Narula
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 6-8 students
Not offered 2014-15
12 credits*
No prerequisites: International Law or International Human Rights Law is strongly recommended

Introduction

The International Human Rights Clinic provides students with an opportunity to explore multifaceted approaches to human rights advocacy in both domestic and international settings. Through Clinic projects and weekly seminars, students focus on a wide range of issues at the heart of struggles to ensure fundamental rights, substantive equality, and economic and social justice.

Course Description

Fieldwork

In the fieldwork component of the Clinic, students use cutting-edge tools to investigate and document rights abuses and formulate legal, policy, and community-based responses to current human rights problems. Students work closely with grassroots human rights organizations, international NGOs, and UN human rights experts and bodies. The Clinic also works closely with NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ). Students are expected to commit approximately 16 hours per week to their fieldwork in addition to time allotted to seminar work and simulation assignments.

Fieldwork has focused on a wide range of issues in the US and abroad, including: economic and social rights; human rights and counter-terrorism; business and human rights; and the human rights of groups marginalized on the basis of caste, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, and sexuality, among other categories. For a full accounting of IHRC projects undertaken in 2010-11 please visit http://chrgj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/IHRC-2010-11-Activities-SEH-2.pdf.

Examples of past fieldwork include:

  • Working with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to investigate and document the human rights impact of agricultural “land grabbing” in Africa and Asia.
  • Researching and releasing a report on the epidemic of farmer suicides in India, and the role of foreign agribusiness companies therein.
  • Partnering with the International Network for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) to develop the Business and Human Rights Documentation (B-HRD) Project, a web-based legal and advocacy tool and strategic resource for advocates seeking to ensure corporate accountability for human rights abuses (www.bhrd.org).
  • Producing a documentary film and reports exposing illegal and discriminatory profiling in counter-terrorism and immigration policies.
  • Documenting the human rights impact of the US government’s use of informants and entrapment techniques on Muslim communities and families.
  • Preparing submissions to UN human rights treaty bodies and special procedures on the United States’ lack of compliance with its human rights obligations, and filing Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain information on rights abuses in the immigration system.
  • Enhancing the capacity of community-based organizations to incorporate human rights law and methodology into their advocacy efforts on behalf of affected immigrant communities in New York and beyond.
  • Drafting and presenting a “shadow report” to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding the Indian government’s failure to address systematic segregation, exploitation, and violence against Dalits (so-called untouchables) under India’s caste system.
  • Analyzing proposals for Nepal’s Constitution under international human rights law and engaging with Nepalese lawmakers to provide concrete recommendations for closing critical gaps in constitutional rights protections.
  • Drafting ATCA and TVPA complaints against defendants accused of genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity.

Seminar

In the seminar component of the Clinic, students gain substantive exposure to international human rights law and are encouraged to reflect critically on the difficult questions of what it means to practice human rights in domestic and transnational contexts. Skills sessions emphasize the development of practical tools for human rights advocacy, such as: investigating, documenting, and publicizing human rights violations; bringing claims before domestic, regional, and international human rights mechanisms; and managing trauma in human rights work. Project rounds enable direct reflection on the relationship between theory and practice and provide an opportunity for collaborative discussion and feedback on clinic work. Students also address questions of ethical, political, and professional accountability related to human rights lawyering.

Application Procedure

Students interested in applying for the clinic should submit an application, a resume and a grade transcript via CAMS. Selected student applicants will be contacted by Susan Hodges for an interview. For further application instructions, or if you have any questions or comments, please contact Susan Hodges.

Student Contacts

It is recommended that students interested in the International Human Rights Clinic speak to students from the 2010-11 International Human Rights Clinic.

Sravya Boppana
Caroline Burrell
Christine Chiu
Lauren DeMartini
Colin Gillespie

Geoffrey Johnson
Kibum Kim
Jimmy Pan
Times Wang
Sylwia Wewiora


* 3 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits are awarded each semester for a total of 12 credits.