Human Rights On Campus
Georgetown Law offers many ways for students to learn about and get involved with human rights issues on campus, including the Human Rights Institute's Fact-Finding Project and Associates Program. Some other exciting opportunities are described below.
Institute Projects: Each year, the Human Rights Institute is involved in a number of human rights projects that allow students to engage with practitioners and contribute to human rights legal and advocacy work. The projects are designed to provide students with the opportunity to contribute to research, writing, and/or advocacy. In the past, students have contributed to a report on Guatemalan human rights defenders (2012-13) and work on human trafficking (2011-12). For more information about current and future opportunities, contact Ian Kysel.
- Legal Advocacy Project: This year, HRI, in partnership with Amnesty International, submitted Written Observations of Law in a case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Henry Hill, et al. v. The United States of America, regarding the application of norms of customary international law to life without parole sentences for children convicted of crimes that were committed while they were under age 18.
- Policy Advocacy Project: This year, HRI submitted written testimony before a hearing of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights regarding the application of human rights law and U.S. constitutional law to the practice of subjecting children to solitary confinement. HRI Dash/Muse Fellow Ian Kysel also testified before the U.S. Committee on Civil Rights' New York Advisory Committee.
Faculty: Georgetown Law's full-time faculty includes some of the leading thinkers in the human rights field, and our visitors and adjuncts are among the human rights field's top scholars and practitioners. Each year, one exceptional human rights practitioner is brought to campus to serve as our our Robert F. Drinan Chair. This year's Chair is Professor Bela Kapur, who in Fall 2013 is teaching Protecting Human Rights in Conflict Situations: Law and Practice.
Certificates: J.D. students interested in refugee rights may wish to pursue a certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies. LL.M. students interested in human rights may wish to pursue a certificate in International Human Rights Law.
Pruckmayr Award: Each year, the Human Rights Institute awards the The Bettina Pruckmayr Award for Human Rights to a graduating J.D. student who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to human rights while at Georgetown Law. Nominations for this award are solicited in the spring.
International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR) Initiative: The IMBR Initiative started in 2007 at Georgetown University Law Center as part of the Global Law Scholars Program. The International Migrants Bill of Rights consolidates international human rights law governing the protection of migrants into a single soft-law framework and draws from all areas of international law to present a dynamic blueprint for the protection of the rights of all migrants.
Human Rights Curriculum: Each semester, Georgetown Law students may choose among dozens of exciting human rights course offerings. These include traditional lecture-style classes, smaller seminars, practicums (including the Institute's own Fact-Finding practicum), and clinics. For a sample list of course offerings during the 2013-2014 academic year, click here. For a complete list of human rights offerings, click here and type "human rights" into the search bar.
- Fall 2013 Practicum spotlight: Racial Discrimination in International Law with Professor Carlos Vasquez (Thursday, 11:10 - 1:10): This practicum focuses on the work of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), of which Professor Vázquez is a member. The Committee monitors compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. Students in the practicum will work individually and in teams to investigate the situation of the minority groups protected by the Convention in the specific countries being scrutinized by CERD in its February 2014 session. In the fall semester of 2013, the countries to be considered will include the United States of America, so the practicum will examine the problem of racial discrimination in the US as well as in other countries. Students will examine the report submitted to the CERD by the relevant country, as well as "shadow reports" submitted by non-governmental organizations and the relevant reports of the U.N. Human Rights Council and other relevant human rights treaty bodies. In addition, students will identify and interview persons with expertise in the countries being scrutinized. The persons to be interviewed would include academics, government officials (such as persons from the U.S. State Department's Human Rights Bureau), and non-governmental organizations that specialize in human rights, particularly those that focus on the country being scrutinized. On the basis of their documentary research and interviews, the students will then write their own "shadow report" concerning the situation of the minority groups within the relevant country. Student will, in addition, present their work to the class through a simulation of their countries' presentation of their reports to CERD. In these simulations, the student(s) who wrote the shadow report on that country will play the role of that country's delegation to CERD, presenting its report to the Committee, and the other students in the practicum will play the role of Committee Members, questioning the members of the delegation on their compliance with the Convention. Students will also have the opportunity (but are not required) to attend the CERD session in Geneva at which their country presents its report to CERD. The Law Center will subsidize some of the cost of travel and lodging. Please see the course description here.