International Human Rights Clinic

Professor Smita Narula addresses a crowd on the occasion of the IHRC’s report on Caste Discrimination in Nepal.

The year-long International Human Rights Clinic provides students with an opportunity to explore multifaceted approaches to human rights lawyering in both domestic and international settings.  Through Clinic projects and weekly seminars, students focus on a wide range of issues at the heart of global struggles to ensure fundamental rights, substantive equality, and economic and social justice.

In the fieldwork component of the Clinic, students use cutting-edge tools to investigate and document rights abuses and formulate legal, policy, and community-based responses to current human rights problems. Students work closely with grassroots human rights organizations, international NGOs, and U.N. human rights experts and bodies.  Fieldwork focuses on a wide range of issues in the U.S. and abroad, including: economic and social rights, such as the right to food; human rights and counter-terrorism; the accountability of international financial actors for human rights violations; and the human rights of groups marginalized on the basis of caste, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, and sexuality, among other categories.

IHRC students are currently examining the obstacles to the realization of the right to food in the United States, and are undertaking empirical research and formulating legal responses to the human rights impacts of large-scale land development projects on three separate continents.  In these projects and cases, we work with grassroots social movements and with international human rights actors to defend the rights of indigenous communities, small-scale farmers, and rural and low-income communities most marginalized by current conditions of economic globalization.

IHRC’s seminar classes focus on issues relevant to the Clinic’s docket and tackle difficult questions related to human rights lawyering, human rights movements, and human rights actors.  Case studies illustrate crucial debates in human rights law and examine the factors that influence human rights strategies.  Skills sessions emphasize the development of practical tools for human rights practice, such as: developing effective strategies to challenge human rights abuses; investigating, documenting, and publicizing human rights violations; bringing claims before domestic, regional, and international human rights mechanisms; and managing trauma in human rights work. Project rounds enable direct reflection on the relationship between theory and practice and provide an opportunity for collaborative discussion and feedback on clinic work.  Teach-ins are student-led and invite deeper engagement with issues of students’ choosing.  Students also address questions of ethical, political, and professional accountability related to human rights lawyering.

Highlights of Clinic projects undertaken in 2010-2011 can be found Here.

For any questions concerning the Clinic please contact Susan Hodges.

The International Human Rights Clinic is taught by Professor Smita Narula.

For application information, click Here.


IHRC projects, past and present, have been grouped under the following themes. Please follow the links below to find out more about each project.

Business and Human Rights

Caste Discrimination

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Racial Profiling and Counter-terrorism