Human Rights Advocacy and the United States (Fall Clinical)

Human Rights Advocacy and the United States (Fall Clinical)

Ms. Deborah Popowski, Visiting Professor James Cavallaro
Fall 2011 clinic
4 clinical credits

This seminar will examine how advocates have used human rights discourse and legal framework to address U.S. government action, focusing in significant measure on the domestic response to post-9/11 counterterrorism policies as a primary case study.

Beginning with a historical assessment, we will consider the United States' role in the development of international human rights norms after World War II, the U.S. exceptionalist posture that calls for holding other states accountable to human rights norms while rejecting their applicability at home, and trends of inclusion and exclusion of the human rights framework by U.S.-focused movements.

From the contemporary context, we will focus primarily on U.S. advocates' response to arbitrary detention and torture since 2001. The seminar will consider tactics used by a range of actors, comparing these strategies to those employed by advocates tackling similar issues in other countries. We will thus analyze actions taken by human rights organizations, other U.S.-based social justice groups, litigators, journalists, survivors, and grassroots organizers and assess their successes and failures, and possible future directions.

Students will participate in skills-building exercises, including a fact-finding role play and media training.

A Fall clinical practice component is required of all students. Clinical placements are with the International Human Rights Clinic of the Human Rights Program. Enrollment is through clinical registration. Please refer to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs website for clinical registration dates, early add/drop deadlines, and other relevant information.