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 cutting-edge research, education, and advocacy on human rights issues around the world, with a focus on defending dissent and advancing legal empowerment. The Institute embraces a holistic approach to human rights, deepening engagement with key stakeholders in the pursuit of justice: law students, human rights defenders, scholars, judges, interdisciplinary allies, and affected communities.

Human rights has long been a core focus of the Law School, and with this major initiative NYU Law is further demonstrating its dedication to training the next generation of human rights leaders. The Institute, with Professor of Clinical Law Margaret Satterthwaite ’99 as faculty director, also supports other human rights 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.

Keep up to date with the Bernstein Institute - join our mailing listSupport the Bernstein Institute.


Our Focus Areas


Institute Updates

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.