In the Human Rights Clinic, an interdisciplinary group of law students and graduate students work on human rights projects and cases from the advocate's perspective. Through working on specific projects and participation in the classroom component of the clinic, students learn substantive human rights law, practice important advocacy techniques and explore different models for ethical, responsible and effective human rights advocacy.
Students participating in the clinic take on primary responsibility for their cases and projects, with guidance and mentoring from the clinic faculty. The cases and projects handled by the Human Rights Clinic are diverse and illustrate the breadth of human rights practice, including fact finding, reporting and press and other public advocacy. The Clinic seeks to develop both theoretical and practical skills, through student involvement in activities such as supporting litigation of human rights claims in domestic and international fora; investigating and documenting human rights violations; supporting advocacy initiatives before United Nations, regional, and national human rights bodies; and engaging with global and local human rights campaigns.
In the past, students helped to prepare an amicus brief submitted to the Peruvian Court trying former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for human rights abuses; analyzed and documented human rights violations taking place as a result of plans to construct a wall along the Texas/Mexico border; documented the situation of rural workers in Guatemala; supported the request of the Ecuadorean Truth Commission for the declassification of documents related to human rights abuses in that country; drafted a legal analysis supporting the reopening by a prosecutor of a criminal investigation into a 1980s forced disappearance in Honduras; prepared a study for a Colombian think tank regarding the functioning of public institutions dealing with discrimination in Latin America; prepared a claim for protection of traditional lands to be brought by an Afro- Brazilian quilombo community before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; worked with the United Nations Special Representative on Minorities Rights; wrote a report on the human rights situation of a community affected by a mining project; released several advocacy papers related to the drafting process of a new Inter-American Convention against Racism and other forms of Discrimination and Intolerance and supported the litigation of several land claims before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Clinic employs an innovative approach. While all the projects and cases entail working in partnership with international institutions national agencies and/or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) some of those projects will be part of long-term relationships with partner organizations and community activists to advocate for the advancement of the specific rights. As part of this long term involvement, students will be offered the opportunity to work with their projects, through summer internships with our partner organizations.
All the cases and projects involve research, writing, and an opportunity to discuss the strategies used by our organizational and individual partners. The cases and projects provide the students an opportunity to gain practical skills in partnering with other students, institutions, and organizations, thus forming a team of advocates. Finally, all the projects and cases allow a multidisciplinary approach and permit working across disciplines and use the perspectives of different fields to enhance the overall theoretical framework.