Human rights law pervades and influences an astonishing range of international and national issues today, from the role of corporations in violations, to indigenous land rights in Brazil, to transitional justice in Burma, to U.S. criminal justice and counterterrorism policy, and beyond. Nonetheless, human rights advocates face a host of challenges and dilemmas in translating that law into positive sustainable change for affected individuals and communities. Through case studies and role plays, this seminar examines key strategic, ethical, and legal dimensions of human rights advocacy. Students will explore tough questions that confront every human rights advocate: How can human rights be harnessed to effectively influence and change behavior? What does it mean to be a human rights advocate? What is responsible, effective human rights advocacy? What are the main critiques of different forms of human rights advocacy, and what are appropriate responses? The course is designed to encourage students to critically evaluate the human rights movement while learning core advocacy, litigation, and problem-solving skills and norms to advance social justice. Critical perspectives are woven into case studies on practical choices facing advocates. In addition to case studies, students will workshop and reflect on their participation in supervised clinical projects, which provide rich materials for discussions about fact-finding investigations, media work, negotiations, advocacy, constituency-building, and litigation. Students will also consider a series of dynamics (e.g., north/south, insider/outsider, donor/donee, lawyer/non-lawyer), which influence how and why advocacy is formulated and received. The seminar also grapples with the limits of the human rights paradigm and established methodologies, such as litigation and "naming and shaming," and explores alternative sources and forms of advocacy.
A spring clinical practice component is required of all students. Clinical placements are with the International Human Rights Clinic.
Procedure & Practice
International, Comparative & Foreign Law