Human Rights Research, Advocacy, and Education

In honor of Robert and Helen Bernstein’s deep commitment to human rights, the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law promotes participatory research, education, and advocacy on human rights issues around the world, with a focus on advancing legal empowerment and defending dissent. 

The Institute, with Professor of Clinical Law Margaret Satterthwaite ’99 as faculty director and Sukti Dhital as Executive Director, supports community-driven justice initiatives at the Law School and University, and acts as the coordinating hub for existing human rights work at NYU, including the Center for Human Rights & Global Justice, the US-Asia Law Institute, and NYU Stern's Center for Business and Human Rights.

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Our Focus Areas


Institute Updates

2021-2022 Masiyiwa-Bernstein fellowships at RFK for Human Rights and Beyond Legal Aid

The Institute is thrilled to announce our 2021-2022 Masiyiwa-Bernstein fellowships at RFK for Human Rights and Beyond Legal Aid. RFK for Human Rights works alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations, and pursues strategic litigation on key human rights issues in the US and around the globe. Beyond Legal Aid is transforming how lawyers and communities work together, and unites lawyers and activists to shift the power of the law to communities directly impacted by injustice. Applications will be accepted until February, 30 2021. Learn how to apply. 

Legal Empowerment during COVID-19 – From Justice Power to #FreeThemAll

Bell Curve with COVID-19 Blog title

In the current climate of physical distancing, remote work, and stay at home orders, creating opportunities to come together to know, use, and shape the law are all the more difficult. And yet organizations within the Justice Power network respond with resilience and creativity to meet the needs of immigrant communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and amplify their calls for justice. Check out Tuttleman Legal Empowerment fellow Tyler Walton's blog post on how Justice Power organizations build power and advance justice in this new era -- from community-driven campaigns to #FreeThemAll, to developing pro se tools and resources for immigrants who navigate the system without a lawyer, and using technology to build flexible legal clinics and trainings to meet people where they are.

Announcing the Jailhouse Lawyer Initiative

Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative Logo

The Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative (JLI) is a national project of the Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (LEAH) and a core legal empowerment project of the Bernstein Institute that aims to re-conceptualize the role of jailhouse lawyers as agents of empowerment. The project advocates for the legal empowerment of current and former jailhouse lawyers through community-led curriculum development, network building, research, and advocacy. JLI works in partnership with NYU Law's Prison Reform and Education Project (PREP) to strengthen the legal education curriculum offered to people incarcerated in New York state prisons. To learn more, visit our JLI page.


Defending Dissent

At "Human Rights in Hong Kong," organized and hosted by the Bernstein Institute, human rights activists and lawyers at the epicenter of the unfolding crisis in Hong Kong shared reflections and strategies on the role international advocacy can play in supporting a pro-democracy movement.

Legal Empowerment

The Justice Power Project is a joint effort of the Bernstein Institute, UNHCR and the Global Justice Clinic at NYU Law to document legal empowerment strategies used by various immigration organizations. This video on the "Pro Se Legal Clinic" strategy features the organization New Sanctuary Coalition.

Featured Fellows

Anika Ades Headshot

Meet our 2020-2021 Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellows, including Anika Ades '20, who will be spending her year working with Human Rights First.




Tyler Walton

Our inaugural Tuttleman Legal Empowerment Fellow, Tyler Walton '18 has been working on researching and co-developing strategies with affected community members to access and exercise their rights. Check out his blog on legal empowerment responses to COVID-19.