Defending Dissent and the Rule of Law

Aerial shot of people spelling out "Resist"

Facing a growing crackdown on dissent around the globe, human rights advocates and scholars are engaged in a creative and critical fight to defend fundamental freedoms. The Bernstein Institute for Human Rights supports a range of education, research, and advocacy initiatives to protect dissent and promote the rule of law.  These include:

Education: Conferences and Events

  • Organized Defending Dissent: Civil Society and Human Rights in the Global Crackdown, which brought together 40 human rights activists, lawyers, and scholars from China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Russia, Turkey, and the United States to share legal strategies and tactics to safeguard crucial spaces for dissent and build solidarity across borders. An interactive conference site was built to archive the sessions, including a summary of the strategies and tactics discussed at the conference.

  • Hold educational talks and programs for students and the broader NYU Law community on the intersection of human rights and civil society, such as Human Rights in Hong Kong.

Screenshot of Human Rights in Hong Kong Video
  • Judicial Seminar on International Human Rights Law: The Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Columbia’s Human Rights Institute co-sponsored three Judicial Seminars on International Human Rights Law. Under different auspices, the Seminar has existed since 1982 and has included more than 300 federal appellate and district court judges, as well as five members of the U.S. Supreme Court. With its distinguished history and stellar human rights faculty, the Seminar brings together federal judges from across the country, and covers topics ranging from foundational international human rights treaties, to comparative exploration of the European, Inter-American, and African human rights systems, as well as substantive sessions on refugee law, national security law, and the law of armed conflict.

Research and Advocacy

Spyware: The Institute convened an interdisciplinary team of technology, digital security, and human rights experts to address the rise in state surveillance of human rights defenders. In partnership with Amnesty International, NYU School of Law's Global Justice Clinic and the Technology Law & Policy Clinic, the Institute engaged in a path-breaking research project to investigate legal accountability measures to address surveillance of human rights defenders around the world.

Check out radio interviews from The Takeaway with Yara Sallam and Olga Sadovskaya, two human rights defenders who joined us for our 2017 Conference, Defending Dissent: