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

We're hiring for a Program Coordinator position at Bernstein Institute and Sovereignty Project at NYU

Join Our Team! 

We are thrilled to be recruiting a Program Coordinator to support the groundbreaking work of the Bernstein Institute and the new NYU-Yale American Indian Sovereignty Project. Details on the position and application process can be found here.


Join Us for 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. 


To join the Zoom, please use this link:

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. Join us for an information session with representatives from the organizations on February 3rd at 1pm. Details found here. 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, shape, and transform 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 our recent teach-in on Pro Se Legal Clinics with Justice Power partners New Sanctuary Coalition and Esperanza Rights Project and learn how attorneys, organizers, and community members can work together to support pro se applicants for asylum and other types of immigration relief. Panliests shared insights on how their clinics center immigrants in their fight to remain, tactics to mobilize and sustain volunteers, and ways to provide relevant and timely information to immigrants navigating the system.

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

Madhulika Murali Fellow Headshot

Hear from our 2020 fellow, Madhulika Murali who is spending a transformative year at Community Justice Project (CJP)--seeing firsthand what movement lawyering looks like in practice. With folks at CJP she's building the capacity and power of grassroots movements, and harnessing her legal background to do that in a variety of ways.



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.