Student Events

Skill-Building Sessions

In response to students' expressed desire for more opportunities to develop practical skills that may improve their chances of obtaining employment in public interest law and human rights work, the Bernstein Institute, Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) jointly organize inter-disciplinary skill-building sessions throughout the academic year.

Previous Skill-Building Sessions Have Included:

Entrepreneurship for Human Rights Poster

Entrepreneurship for Human Rights

Andy Moss, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, led this skill-building session on the basics of entrepreneurship and an overview of the numerous resources NYU offers to help students turn their ideas into reality.

This session was co-sponsored by the NYU Law's Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, the Public Interest Law Center, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and the Social Enterprise and Startup Law Group.

Digital Security Training Poster
Digital Security Training

In the age of surveillance, protecting yourself online is more important than ever.  Experts from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to free speech and freedom of the press, provided a training that covered the basics on encryption and data security, with strategies on how to be safer and smarter when communicating, sharing and storing your digital information.

This session was co-sponsored by the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, Global Justice Clinic, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and Technology Law and Policy Clinic.

Increasing Productivity Poster
Increasing Productivity: Project Management Strategies for Human Rights and Public Interest Lawyers
Law firms, government agencies, and NGOs are all responsible for managing large and complex projects of different types.  Learning how to create a workplan, organize a team, execute tasks, monitor implementation and evaluate work done, is essential whatever one’s career path - whether one plans to work as a human rights or public interest lawyer doing transactional work, to engage in human rights research, or to serve as a public defender with a substantive caseload.
This event was co-sponsored by the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Public Interest Law Center.
Media Strategies for Human Rights Practitioners
Reaching the public is often crucial for public interest and human rights lawyering. Social media now provides a pathway for reaching the public directly, but journalists continue to be crucial. This session will provide participants with strategies and techniques for attracting media interest in their work, focusing on questions including:  How do you draft a press release that will get journalists to show up to your event? What are pitfalls to avoid when conducting live interviews? How can you use social media to draw attention to your work? How can you cultivate long-term relationships with journalists?
Data Visualization and Human Rights
Data can become evidence, make patterns visible, and help us visualize change. It can even surprise you by revealing new perspectives or previously unknown situations. New technologies have unlocked a world of high quality, freely accessible data on the web — and made it easy to create collaborative data sets of your own. This workshop will look at examples of how data visualization can be used for advocacy work, and how to use visualization to make your message clear, compelling, and engaging. Participants learned tips for creating powerful presentations and about design techniques that could be used to visualize situations and help plan tactics and strategy.

This was an introductory session and did not require previous graphics or data experience. Attendees were invited to peruse the booklet “Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design,” downloadable at

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.

Coping with Vicarious Trauma 
As “helping”  professionals, lawyers—particularly those who work in the field of human rights or public interest, and who provide direct services to victims of abuse and other marginalized populations—must cope with exposure to the trauma experienced by clients and communities facing violence, conflict, abuse, discrimination, and other forms of harm. This session explored the phenomenon as it pertains to public interest and human rights lawyers, focusing both on the issues presented by front-line public interest workers who have clients in their office, as well as the issues faced by human rights researchers who witness conflict. Facilitators discussed skills for managing the emotional and psychological consequences of working with traumatized individuals and communities, and strategies to avoid burnout.
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.

Human Rights Programming 

The Bernstein Institute for Human Rights in partnership with centers, clinics, and student groups, organizes educational talks and programs for students and the broader NYU community on pressing human rights issues, with a focus on defending dissent and advancing legal empowerment.  

Previous Human Rights Events:


Reclaiming Civic Space Poster

Reclaiming Civic Space: Resistance, Resilience, and Resources

The 26th edition of the Sur International Journal on Human Rights, published by Conectas Human Rights in collaboration with The Fund for Global Human Rights, seeks to address the imbalance in information currently available on the global crackdown on civil society, the majority of which focuses on the diagnostics, rather than the responses by activists.

Conectas and The Fund—in partnership with ESCR-Net – International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights— hosted a panel discussion with the aim of sharing the body of knowledge captured by the Journal with an audience of scholars, activists, and practitioners.


Judge Rosenbaum Talk PosterClerkship Talk with Judge Robin Rosenbaum

Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit talked with students who were interested in judicial clerkship positions. Judge Rosenbaum answered  questions about applying for judicial clerkships and clerking on a federal appellate court. 





Community Driven Justice Poster

Community-Driven Justice: Leading from the Grassroots

Community-Driven Justice: Leading from the Grassroots was a panel discussion on the importance of working directly with affected communities to build legal empowerment, grassroots action, and social change. In this social, political, economic, and cultural moment, community-driven justice is more important than ever. The discussion featured panelists Lam Ho, Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA), Michael Otto, Global Network Manager at Namati, and Heather Lewis, Director of Resource Development at CADCOM, and will be moderated by Kate Rubin, Director of Policy & Strategic Initiatives at Youth Represent.

This event was co-sponsored by NYU Law's Public Interest Law Center, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

We Are Syrians Poster
We Are Syrians
Laura Flanders, host of The Laura Flanders Show, interviewed Naila Al-Atrash, Radwan Ziadeh, and Sana Mustafa, who described how they were forced out of Syria by a government that wanted to silence them, and how they refused to be silent. The event was tied to the release of the book We Are Syrian: Three Generations, Three Dissidents, which weaves their personal stories together to tell the larger story of the Syrian conflict and how—despite living with the worst on-going humanitarian crisis in the world today—the spirit of Syrian people lives on.
This event was co-sponsored by NYU Skirball, Scholars at Risk, and the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Black Voices on Immigration: Perspectives from the African Diaspora in the United States
As of 2014 an estimated 3.7 million Black immigrants live in the United States, with some studies suggesting as many as 5 million, from countries all over the world. Black immigrants make up a significant portion of the immigrant community, and are affected by programs like DACA, TPS (Temporary Protected Status), and the Muslim Ban, as well as efforts to deport long-term residents. Black Voices on Immigration sought to broaden and deepen the conversation about immigration taking place at NYU Law, and engage with the intersectionality of immigrant justice, racial justice, and criminal justice reform with panelists directly affected by and working on the issues.
This event was co-sponsored by Black Allies Law Students Organization (BALSA), Latin Law Students Association (LaLSA), Immigrant Rights Project (IRP), Fair Defense Project (FDP), OUTLaw, Public Interest Law Students Association (PILSA), Law Students for Human Rights (LSHR), Women of Color Collective (WoCC), Global Justice Clinic, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and the Africana Studies Program in the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis
South Asian Lawyers and Humans Rights Work at Home: A Conversation with Sukti Dhital 
Sukti Dhital, Deputy Director of the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights spoke of her experience as a human rights lawyer and the co-founder of Nazdeek, a grassroots legal empowerment organization operating within and on behalf of marginalized communities in India.  
This event was co-sponsored by the South Asian Law Student Association (SALSA) and the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights
American Poverty & Disaster Recovery Poster

American Poverty & Disaster Recovery: A Human Rights Approach

Collete Pichon Battle, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, discussed how disasters and disaster recovery efforts affect the human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in America. The conversation explored  how generational and structural poverty affected people’s exposure to and experience of disaster; the long-term poverty impacts, including among disproportionately affected communities of color; and what it means to take a human rights-based approach to disaster recovery, and to focus on equity as a key to building more resilient communities.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, Law Students for Human Rights, and Law Students for Economic Justice.

Social Media Activism Poster

Social Media Activism

Raull Santiago and Renaya Tranajo, human rights activists, media makers, and residents of the Complexo do Alemão favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, discussed their work as co-founder of Coletivo Papo Reto (Straight Talk Collective).  Coletivo Papo Reto is a network of young activists that uses social media to tell their own stories, counter stereotypes, and hold accountable police and other authorities for violations in their communities.  They were joined by WITNESS's Priscila Neri.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, and Law Students for Human Rights.


Partly Visual Partly Real Poster

Professor Fort Fu-Te Liao: Partly Visual, Partly Real - Taiwan's Unique Interaction with International Human Rights Instruments


Professor Fort Fu-Te Liao, former visiting scholar at the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, shared his research on Taiwan's unique interaction with international human rights law.  Professor Liao is a Research Professor at Institute of Law, Academic Sinica, Taiwan and an adjunct professor of Department of Law, National Taipei Univeristy and Human Rights MA, Soochow University.  Professor Liao's research focuses on human rights issues through the lens of international human rights law, European law, and constitutional law. 

LGBTI Rights in Africa Poster
LGBTI Rights in Africa: The View from the Ground: Progress, Strategies, and the Way Forward

Tashwill Esterhuizen, head of the LGBTI & Sex Workers' Rights Programme at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Charles Radcliffe, Senior Human Rights Advisor at the UN on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, held a discussion on strategies that have successfully helped advance the rights of the LGBTI community in Africa, despite government efforts to curtail freedoms.

Leadership in Business & Human Rights Poster

Leadership in Business and Human Rights: A Conversation with Strive Masiyiwa and Tom Bernstein

Tom A. Bernstein, President and Co-Founder of Chelsea Piers, interviewed Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of global telecommunications group Econet on how he has combined his business interests with philanthropic initiatives and social entrepreneurship across the globe; the vital role of business in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms under a changing political climate; and how law students and legal professionals can get involved in human rights through leadership. Among their individual board affiliations, Mr. Masiyiwa and Mr. Bernstein both serve on the Advisory Board of the Bernstein Institute.
The Price of Dissent Poster
The Price of Dissent: Turkey's Academic Purges and the Shrinking University Space

In the wake of a coup attempt in July 2016, the president of Turkey declared an ongoing state of emergency.  During that time, the government suspended, detained and placed under investigation tens of thousands of people, including more than 4,000 academics.  Panelists discussed what this crackdown on dissent might mean for the future of higher education in Turkey, and the role universities in Turkey and abroad should play in protecting human rights.

Legal Empowerment Poster

Legal Empowerment: Strategies to Advance the Rights of Women and Children in South Asia

Sara Hossain, human rights lawyer and Executive Director of BLAST, a leading legal aid organization in Bangladesh shared BLAST’s groundbreaking efforts to advance women’s rights alongside Sukti Dhital, Deputy Director of the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Co-Founder of Nazdeek, a legal empowerment organization in India.

State of Emergency Poster
State of Emergency: Repression of Human Rights Defenders in Ethiopia and the Curious Story of US-Ethiopia Relations
Zelalem Kibret Beza, a lawyer, former law instructor, journalist, and member of the Zone 9 blogging collective, a group of bloggers who were jailed for organizing in response to restrictions on the independent press joined students to share his perspective on the human rights crisis unfolding in Ethiopia and why American influence matters.
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Workers Rights Poster

The World's Got 99 Problems and Worker's Rights Aren't One of Them

Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, joined students to discuss workers' rights around the globe.  In his October 2016 report, the Special Rapporteur examined how and why labor rights and human rights came to be viewed as separate, focusing on the most marginalized portions of the world's labor force, including global supply chain workers, informal workers, migrant workers, domestic workers and others.

Meeropol Lunch Poster

Human Rights Lunch with Rachel Meeropol

Rachel Meeropol (JD '02), Senior Staff Attorney and Associate Director of Legal Training and Education at the Center for Constitutional Rights, joined NYU Law students for an informal Q&A lunch to discuss human rights work and how to start a career in it. Rachel's work focuses on prisoners' rights, Muslim profiling, criminalization of dissent, and First Amendment issues.

This event was co-sponsored by the Public Interest Law Center and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.

Rights of Others in Foreign Policy Poster

The Rights of Others in Foreign Policy

Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union's Special Representative for Human Rights, joined NYU students for a discussion of human rights in EU foreign policy.  Topics included the universality of human rights, the shrinking space of civil society, and the issues of coherence and effectiveness that the EU faces.

This event was co-sponsored by the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.

How Inequality Undermines Human Rights
At the global level, economic crises, armed conflict, public health emergencies, food insecurity, and climate change have threatened the realization of human rights. Within this constellation of factors, growing inequality in income and wealth around the world has emerged as another area of growing concern. The human rights framework offers partial guidance on the implications of increasingly polarized societies, but gaps remain. Given the sharp rise in inequality in recent decades, it is critical to more fully understand the connections between realization of human rights and inequality – how we think about and measure inequality, the degree to which growing inequality undermines rights, and what the human rights framework says, and does not say, about inequality.
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
The Violence in Human Rights  

Human rights advocacy is often concerned with mitigating the effects of illegal or excessive forms of state and non-state violence. However, advocates and litigators rarely focus on the contours of violence itself, the distinctions between lawful and unlawful violence, and the violence—potential or real—that is inherent in the enforcement of rights. John Sifton is a Human Rights Watch staffer and the author of a recently released reflection and memoir on his work, Violence All Around. He discussed the tensions between his work on terrorism and counterterrorism, his reflections on the physical realities of violence itself, and the history of theories of non-violent change. 

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Using a Human Rights Defender Framework in the Struggle for Black Liberation
Black Lives Matter’s stated mission is to broaden the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state, including the state’s impoverishment of Black communities.  This talk explored how human rights lawyers must center national and local organizing efforts in the movement and the potential of the human rights framework to defend activists and organizers in the struggle for racial and economic justice.
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Regional and Global Perspectives on Impunity for CIA Torture and the Right to Remedies and Reparation
On October 23, 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing on “human rights situation of persons affected by the U.S. Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program.” The hearing, which was requested by the ACLU and the NYU Global Justice Clinic, focused on the right to remedies and reparations for survivors of the CIA torture program. In advance of the IACHR hearing, a coalition of human rights groups from the U.S. and Latin America held a public event at NYU Washington, DC, addressing the need for transparency and accountability for the CIA torture and secret detention program. What does U.S. failure to act in the face of well-documented acts of torture mean to global human rights and what are the consequences for endorsing impunity? What lessons could be learned from the Latin American experience in the search for truth and justice and ensuring non-repetition of torture and enforced disappearances? 
Why Transitional Justice Needs to Deal with Corruption The Cases of Philippines, Peru and Tunisia

Both advocacy and scholarly debates are focusing on the need to include a focus on economic injustice and corruption in transitional justice mechanisms. In part, the debate has been caused by a slim record of truth commission involvement on corruption investigations. To date, few commissions (those in Chad, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kenya) have explicitly conducted research on corruption. Currently, only the Tunisian Instance ‘Vérité et Dignité’ has a mandate to investigate corruption cases and facilitate an arbitration mechanism to solve ongoing investigations.

However, it would be misleading to say that Transitional Justice has completely omitted a focus on corruption; other instruments, particularly special inquiries, have taken place to recover assets and initiate criminal processes against perpetrators of kleptocratic, dictatorial regimes. The Philippines, after Marcos, and Peru after Fujimori, are salient examples. There have been more recent attempts at establishing exclusively corruption-focused truth commissions in Bangladesh and the Philippines to deal with legacies of large-scale corruption. Political challenges and technical problems led to incomplete outcomes in both cases. The topic is of critical relevance today however, as corruption investigations in Tunisia risk to stall due to political pressure to apply a mechanism of ‘amnesty for truth’ to corrupt business leaders and officials. The speakers shared their experiences and insights on the interface between transitional justice and anti-corruption initiatives during their talk. 

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
The Black Lives Matter Movement, Racial Inequality, and Human Rights in the United States

#Black Lives Matter was created by three Black women in 2013, as a call to action after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. It gained momentum in 2014, when protests erupted following the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent failure to indict the officer on any charges.  The mobilization against anti-Black racism and police violence was fueled by more deaths of Black people—men, women, and children, straight, queer, and trans—at the hands of police officers in 2014 and 2015, their names too numerous to mention here. Today, the Movement for Black Lives stands for more than a challenge to extrajudicial killings of Black people by the police; it stands for a challenge to the multiple ways in which Black people are deprived of fundamental human rights and dignity in the United States and around the world.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.