Law students Priscilla Bowens (left) and Eilidh Reid (right) at the United Nations in Geneva while traveling for the Human Rights Clinic in May 2016.

Human Rights Clinic

The Human Rights Clinic brings together an interdisciplinary group of law and graduate students in a course that incorporates both classroom study and hands-on participation in human rights projects and cases.

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Cases and Projects

Fortalecimiento de las medidas cautelares de la CIDH / Strengthening the IACHR’s Precautionary Measures

Las medidas cautelares son el mecanismo que utiliza la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en situaciones de gravedad y urgencia, por medio del cual la CIDH solicita a un Estado adoptar medidas con el propósito de prevenir daños irreparables a personas.  La Clínica como parte de la Coalición Internacional de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos en las Américas decidió contribuir al fortalecimiento de las medidas cautelares a través de un análisis en términos de fortalezas, desafíos y oportunidades en las distintas etapas del proceso como también repensar prácticas de la Comisión y proveer una serie de recomendaciones.  El Informe Prevenir Daños Irreparable: Fortalecer las Medidas Cautelares de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos es el fruto de ese proceso colaborativo con la Coalición.  La  investigación  se  construyó principalmente a partir de entrevistas a distintos actores que intervienen en el proceso de medidas cautelares: solicitantes, personas  beneficiarias,  representantes  de  la  Comisión  (tanto  Comisionados/as  como  personal  de  la Secretaria) y representantes de los Estados miembros de la OEA; la elaboración de una base de datos con  fines  de  análisis estadístico,  basada en  la  información  que la  Comisión publica  sobre  medidas cautelares otorgadas en el periodo 2007-2017 y, revisión documental y bibliográfica.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights uses the mechanism of precautionary measures in grave and urgent situations.  They are a means by which the IACHR requests that the State adopt measures to protect persons from irreparable harm.  As part of the Coalición Internacional de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos en las Américas (International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas), the Clinic decided to contribute to strengthening precautionary measures by analyzing the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the different stages of the process, rethinking the practices of the Commission, and making several recommendations.  The report, Prevenir Daños Irreparable: Fortalecer las Medidas Cautelares de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, is the result of a collaboration with the Coalition.  The investigation is built on interviews of various actors involved in the precautionary measures process, including applicants, beneficiaries, representatives of the Commission (Commissioners and Secretariat staff) and representatives from the Member States of the OAS, along with a statistical analysis based on a database from information on precautionary measures during 2007-2017 published by the Commission, and a review of source material.

The report is currently available in Spanish.  An English version is coming soon.

Promoting the Right to Health of Persons living with HIV/AIDS in Guatemala

In partnership with the Dell Medical School, the Clinic prepared an amicus brief to present to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 12.484, Cuscul Pivaral et al., with regard to Guatemala: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2016/191.asp. The case involves the State’s international responsibility for violating various rights established in the American Convention, to the detriment of 49 victims who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS between 1992 and 2003. The amicus focused on Guatemala’s international obligations stemming from the right to health with respect to people under its jurisdiction who are living with HIV/AIDS. The amicus analyzed the specific international standards regulating the comprehensive health care to which these individuals are entitled.

Bringing Human Rights and Business Principles to Texas

The Clinic evaluated the Texas Bar Rules of Disciplinary Procedure in light of what guidance they provide to attorneys dealing with international human rights issues.  In particular, the Clinic compared and contrasted the Texas Bar Association’s rules with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  During fall 2017, the Clinic prepared a report on its findings and recommendations that were presented to the International Human Rights Committee of the Texas Bar Association’s International Law Section.

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