Human Rights Advocacy

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Spring 2015 Seminar
Meets: T 1:00pm - 3:00pm
2 classroom credits
Required Clinic Component: International Human Rights Clinic (2-4 spring credits). Students enrolled in the spring clinic must take either this course or Combating the Human Costs of Armed Conflict. Students will be enrolled in one of these required courses by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Students are guaranteed a seat in one of these two required courses, but are not guaranteed their first choice. Students may enroll in only one of the two available courses.
Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.
By Permission: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: January 16, 2015.
LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic by submitting an application.

Advocates around the world employ human rights law in struggles for social justice. While human rights law imposes standards on an astonishing range of issues; corporate accountability in South Africa, transitional justice in Burma, healthcare in Brazil, criminal justice in the United States, immigration policy in Europe and beyond, advocates nonetheless face a host of challenges and dilemmas when seeking to translate law into positive sustainable change.

This seminar explores what it means to be a human rights advocate, with an emphasis on the role of lawyers. Through case studies, role plays, and guided discussion, the course examines key ethical, strategic, and legal dimensions of human rights work. Students grapple with tough questions that confront every human rights practitioner, including: How can human rights be harnessed to successfully influence and change behavior? What are appropriate responses to critiques of the human rights movement? What does responsible, effective human rights advocacy look like? How does one engage without perpetuating power differentials along geopolitical, class, race, gender, and other lines? How does an advocate forge partnerships with individuals and communities directly affected by abuse?

This course is designed to encourage students to critically evaluate the human rights movement while learning core advocacy, litigation, and problem-solving skills to responsibly advance social justice. Case studies explore fundamental choices advocates face. Students workshop and reflect on their participation in supervised clinical projects, which provide rich material for discussions about skills such as fact-finding, media outreach, negotiations, advocacy, constituency-building, and litigation. Students also consider a series of dynamics (e.g., north/south, insider/outsider, donor/donee, lawyer/non-lawyer) that influence how and why advocacy is formulated and received. Finally, the seminar considers the limits of the human rights paradigm and its established methodologies, such as litigation, naming and shaming, and looks at alternative sources and forms of advocacy, including the role of community lawyering in the human rights context.

A spring clinical practice component is required of all students. Clinical placements are with the International Human Rights Clinic.

Subject Areas: Human Rights , Procedure & Practice , International, Comparative & Foreign Law .