Pending Snowstorm; No In-Person Activities Sat, Jan. 29. Law Library will be closed. More info

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.

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Our Focus Areas


Institute Updates

Watch our Jailhouse Lawyer Initiative's Event, 

Clemency: Justice Solutions from the Inside Out

Poster for Jailhouse Lawyer Initiative's Event, Clemency: Justice Solutions from the Inside Out

Clemency is a tool relied on by incarcerated people to gain release from unjust prison sentences. Join NYU School of Law’s Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) in partnership with the Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (LEAH) for a panel exploring how jailhouse lawyers and justice-impacted people have led movements for freedom through clemency. The event features formerly incarcerated human rights defenders, Jhody Polk, Jason Hernandez, Alejo Rodriguez, and Monique Baker who will share insights on clemency as a tool of empowerment and a pathway to freedom at the state and federal level. Panelists will reflect on the role and power of narrative in the clemency process, share insights on how jailhouse lawyers are on the frontline of this justice work, and discuss ways for attorneys and law students to be better partners and allies in achieving justice from the inside out.

The event is part of the Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative (JLI), a national project of 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. 

Watch our recording here.

2022-2023 Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellowships at The Global Justice Clinic and Namati

2022-20223 Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellowship announcment

The Institute is thrilled to announce our 2022-2023 Masiyiwa-Bernstein fellowships at The Global Justice Clinic and Namati.

The Global Justice Clinic engages in work to prevent, challenge, and redress rights violations related to global inequality. Namati advances social and environmental justice by building a movement of people to know, use, and shape the law.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until November 8, 2021.

Learn how to apply. 

A Virtual Teach-In on Community Legal Advocates

Justice Power presents A Virtual Teach-In on Community Legal Advocates with VIISTA and Kituo Cha Sheria

Our next Justice Power teach-in will focus on how community legal advocates advance the rights of migrants and refugees in the US and around the globe. Often referred to as community paralegals in the global context, these paraprofessionals provide legal representation and information to migrant and refugee clients and communities, making access to justice more accessible to communities that cannot access lawyers.

Please join us on November 4th at 2pm on Zoom for this event with panelists Michele Pistone (Professor of Law), Charles Widger (School of Law and Founding Faculty Director of VIISTA), and staff from Kito Cha Sheria in Kenya. Our own Sukti Dhital from the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights will moderate.

Register here.

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 Portrait

Hear from our 2020 fellow, Anika R. Ades as she reflects on her Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellowship. Through her work at Human Rights First, she gained experience in movement lawyering and broadened her ideas of advocacy.


Tyler Walton

Our 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.