Human Rights Advocacy

Human Rights Advocacy

Ms. Anna Crowe, Ms. Salma Waheedi
Spring 2019 seminar
T 1:10pm - 3:10pm in WCC Room 3036
2 classroom credits

Students who enroll in this course may count the credits towards the JD experiential learning requirement.

Required Clinic Component: International Human Rights Clinic (3-5 spring clinical credits).This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: January 11, 2019.

LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic by submitting an application.

Advocates around the world rely upon human rights law, language, and methodologies in the struggle for social justice.  While human rights law provides guidance on an astonishing range of issues—corporate accountability in South Africa, transitional justice in Myanmar, 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 meaningful, sustainable change.

This seminar aims to be a critical, contextualized, and participatory exploration of what it means to be a human rights advocate, from a lawyer’s perspective.  The course examines fundamental concepts, skills, and approaches to human rights advocacy, including the ethical, strategic, and legal dimensions of this work.  Through case studies, role plays, and guided discussion, we will grapple with tough questions that confront every human rights practitioner, including:  

·      What is the proper mandate of a human rights advocate? 

·      What is responsible, effective human rights advocacy?

·      What are appropriate responses to critiques of the human rights movement?  

·      How can human rights be harnessed to successfully influence and change behavior?   

·      Is it possible to engage in human rights advocacy without perpetuating power differentials along geopolitical, class, race, gender, economic, and other divides?  

·      How does an advocate forge meaningful, collaborative partnerships with individuals and communities directly affected by abuse? 

·      What skills and methodologies are best suited to lawyering in the human rights field?

·      How can human rights advocates practice self-care and cultivate resilience and optimism in the face of such challenging work?

This course is designed to encourage critical evaluation of the human rights movement, as well as the implications for practice today, while learning how to responsibly advance social justice.  Students will workshop and reflect on their participation in supervised clinical projects, which provide rich material for discussions about skills such as fact-finding, media outreach, advocacy, constituency-building, and litigation.  Students will also consider a series of identity-based dynamics (e.g., north/south, insider/outsider, donor/donee, lawyer/non-lawyer) that influence how and why advocacy is formulated and received.  Finally, students will consider the limits of the human rights paradigm and its established methodologies, as well as alternative models and forms of advocacy, including the role of community lawyering in the human rights context.

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