HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW
Defence for Children International–Sierra Leone (DCI-SL), Freetown, Sierra Leone
DCI-SL was founded in 1998 during the Sierra Leonean civil war, a time when the rights of many children were gravely violated. It was initially established to monitor and document violations of children’s rights and to provide legal assistance to child survivors of violence and children in conflict, including children who were detained and accused of being rebels. Though DCI-SL is a local and independent chapter, it develops its programs based on the core principles and values of the Defence for Children International movement. The main thrust of DCI-SL’s program is to work towards the strengthening of the child protection system to have good policies and strong mechanisms that can guarantee the safety and development of all children irrespective of their background or where they live. As part of this effort, it provides legal assistance to children to be able to seek legal redress, claim and defend their rights particularly when they are victims of abuse/violence, or in conflict with the law or in need of certain legal rights. While not a pre-requisite, knowledge of French will enhance the internship experience. See www.dcisierraleone.org.
Human Rights Network for Journalists–Uganda (HRNJU), Kampala, Uganda
HRNJU was established in 2005 by a group of human rights-minded journalists amidst a deteriorating context of glaring abuses targeting the media. Its mission is to enhance the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building capacities of journalists to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media. Its Legal Defense and Support Program offers free legal services to journalists who are risk and undertakes different forms of legal defense through internal and external legal teams primarily to protect journalists from harassment, unlawful arrest and detention, and intimidation. See www.hrnjuganda.org.
International Center for Transitional Justice–Kenya (ICTJ-Kenya), Nairobi, Kenya
ICTJ assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse through the development of integrated, comprehensive, and localized approaches to transitional justice comprising five key elements: prosecuting perpetrators, documenting and acknowledging violations through non-judicial means such as truth commissions, reforming abusive institutions, providing reparations to victims, and facilitating reconciliation processes. Kenya is facing a legacy of human rights violations perpetrated in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. ICTJ has worked there since 2008 on criminal prosecutions (urging Kenyan authorities to establish a credible, transparent, and accountable domestic prosecution mechanism); institutional reform of the judiciary and the police; truth-seeking; and reparations. See http://ictj.org/our-work/regions-and-countries/kenya.
Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Windhoek, Namibia
Established in 1988 as a public interest human rights law firm, LAC’s primary objective is to protect the human rights of all Namibians. It is the only organization of its kind in Namibia. The placement would most likely be with the Land, Environment and Development (LEAD) Project. The LEAD Project was launched in 1997 in recognition that decisions and competition regarding land and resource ownership and development would be central to many human rights issues in Namibia. LEAD is committed to addressing the needs of the rural poor by cooperating with government and NGOs working in the relevant field. LEAD Project staff advise communities on land and environmental rights, developmental options in tourism and communal land initiatives like communal area conservancies. Their work involves research, lobbying and law reform; legal training for farmers, small-scale enterprises and NGOs; providing educational materials to support training; and extending advice, mediation and litigation services on land, environment and development issues to rural communities. There may also be an opportunity to work with LAC’s Gender Research & Advocacy Project. See www.lac.org.na.
Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), Johannesburg, South Africa
SALC was established in 2005 to promote human rights and the rule of law primarily through litigation support and training in southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. SALC has seven programmatic areas: disability rights, LGBT/sex worker rights, health rights, international criminal justice, freedom of expression, regional advocacy, and sexual and reproductive rights. Language skills in Portuguese or French are highly desired, but not a prerequisite for this placement. See www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org.
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), San José, Costa Rica
Established in 1991, CEJIL seeks to contribute to the full enjoyment of human rights in the Americas through the effective use of the tools of the inter-American system and international human rights law. Its primary objectives are to respond to human rights violations committed or tolerated by state agents; to reduce inequality and exclusion in the region; to strengthen democracy and the rule of law with a focus on justice systems, civil society and other key actors; and to increase the effectiveness of the decisions of bodies in the inter-American system and promote equal access to the system’s mechanisms. The internship will be in CEJIL’s office in Costa Rica where the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is based. Strong proficiency in Spanish is essential for students interested in this placement. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). See http://cejil.org.
Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Buenos Aires, Argentina
CELS is a non-governmental organization that has been working since 1979 to promote and protect human rights, and to strengthen democratic systems in Argentina. Established in the midst of a military dictatorship, it responded to the urgent need to take quick and decisive action to stop gross and systematic human rights violations, document state terrorism, and provide legal aid and assistance to victims’ families. With the restoration of democracy in 1983, CELS became an indispensable contributor to the work of the National Commission on Disappeared Persons (CONADEP) and the justice system. By the mid-1990s, CELS had incorporated into its agenda the enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights understood as key components for the protection of human rights in a democracy. Today, the organization’s main focus areas are: economic, social, and cultural rights; protecting social protest rights; memory and accountability; institutional violence and public security; incarceration and criminal justice reform; mental health; democratic justice; and civilian control of the armed forces. Its approaches to these issues include strategic litigation and investigations of human rights violations from a multidisciplinary perspective. Spanish proficiency is required. See www.cels.org.ar.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Washington, D.C., United States
The IACHR is one of two bodies in the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights. The other is the Inter-American Court of Human Rights located in San José, Costa Rica. The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States; its mandate is in the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR has seven members who act independently of any particular government. To carry out its mandate, the Commission inter alia: receives, analyzes and investigates individual petitions which allege human rights violations; observes the general human rights situation in member States and publishes reports as it considers appropriate; carries out visits to countries to engage in more in-depth analysis of the general situation and/or to investigate a specific situation; requests States to adopt specific “precautionary measures” to avoid serious and irreparable harm to human rights in urgent cases; requests that the Court order “provisional measures” in urgent cases; submits cases to the Inter-American Court and appears before the Court in the litigation of cases. Students interested in this internship must be able to work in at least two of the four official languages of the OAS (English, Spanish, Portuguese and French). Although Spanish is not required, some level of Spanish proficiency is strongly recommended, as most working meetings are conducted in Spanish. For more information, see www.cidh.oas.org.
International Center for Transitional Justice–Colombia (ICTJ-Colombia), Bogotá, Colombia
ICTJ assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse through the development of integrated, comprehensive, and localized approaches to transitional justice comprising five key elements: prosecuting perpetrators, documenting and acknowledging violations through non-judicial means such as truth commissions, reforming abusive institutions, providing reparations to victims, and facilitating reconciliation processes. ICTJ has worked in Colombia since 2003. ICTJ will continue its work to assist Colombia to implement the recent and historic peace agreement and other transitional justice policies in ways that guarantee victims’ rights and contribute to building a just society. Proficiency in Spanish is needed for students interested in this placement. See http://ictj.org/our-work/regions-and-countries/colombia.
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Dhaka, Bangladesh
Established in 1993, BLAST’s primary mission is to make the legal system accessible to the poor and marginalized. It is one of the leading legal services organizations in Bangladesh, and the only one that provides access to legal aid across the spectrum, from the frontlines of the formal justice system to the apex court. It prioritizes support to women, men and children living in poverty or facing disadvantage or discrimination. BLAST provides legal aid, advice and representation across a range of areas, including civil, criminal, family, labor and land law, as well as on constitutional rights and remedies, providing access to judicial remedies alongside alternative dispute resolution wherever appropriate. It is extensively involved with public interest litigation and advocacy work, and conducts investigations into human rights infringements. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). See www.blast.org.bd.
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Office of the Co-Prosecutors, Phnom Penh
In 2001 the Cambodian National Assembly created the ECCC to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979. Cambodia invited international participation due to the weakness of the Cambodian legal system and the international nature of the crimes. An agreement with the UN was reached in 2003; in 2006 the national and international judicial officials of the ECCC were sworn in; and in 2007, they unanimously adopted the Internal Rules of the court. The first charges were filed in July 2007. The Office of the Co-Prosecutors (OCP) is an independent office within the ECCC. Its role is to prosecute senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and others most responsible for the crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea. It conducts preliminary investigations, prosecutes cases throughout the investigative, pre-trial, trial and appellate stages, processes victim complaints, and participates in judicial investigations. The OCP is co-headed by a Cambodian and an international Co-Prosecutor. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). See www.eccc.gov.kh/en.
Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), New Delhi, India
HRLN is a collective of lawyers and social activists dedicated to the use of the legal system to advance human rights in India and the sub-continent. It collaborates with human rights groups and grass-roots development and social movements to enforce the rights of poor marginalized people and to challenge oppression, exploitation and discrimination against any group or individual on the grounds of caste, gender, disability, age, religion, language, ethnic group, sexual orientation, and health, economic or social status. Among its activities, HRLN provides pro bono legal services, conducts public interest litigation, engages in advocacy, conducts legal awareness programs and investigates violations. See www.hrln.org/hrln.
International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
IWRAW-AP is an international women’s human rights organization. Since 1993 it has worked to contribute to the progressive interpretation and realization of the human rights of women through the lens of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international human rights treaties. It continues to work on improving understanding of CEDAW as an instrument that adds concrete significance to the concepts of substantive equality, non-discrimination, and the relevance of treaty law to improving national level action plans geared towards social justice, women’s equality and empowerment of marginalized groups. It also continues to promote the domestic implementation of international human rights standards by building the capacity of women and human rights advocates to claim and realize women’s human rights. See www.iwraw-ap.org.
Judicial Reform Foundation (JRF), Taipei, Taiwan
Founded in 1995, JRF is a non-governmental organization committed to advancing legal reform to establish a fair, just, and trustworthy judiciary. JRF’s projects include the reform of the Judge’s Act of 2011, a product of highly politicized considerations on which JRF is developing a public record to evaluate the law and its implementation; a review of “not guilty” verdicts from the Supreme Court to identify improper or illegal investigations by prosecutors, seeking to build a base to support reform of the prosecutorial system; leading a discussion of the value for Taiwan of juries, “public participation” or “public observation” of trials; and the reform of the criminal procedure code to strengthen protection of the rights of criminal defendants. Proficiency in Mandarin Chinese is needed for students interested in this placement. See www.jrf.org.tw/newjrf/index_new2014.asp.
South Asia Centre for Legal Studies (SACLS), Colombo, Sri Lanka
SACLS was founded in 2013 with the specific goal of pursuing remedies – truth, justice and reparations – for victims of grave violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. It is the first local civil society initiative dedicated to this purpose. It began working on these issues at a time when the space and opportunity to advance transitional justice issues was extremely limited, but it did so because it believed that Sri Lanka must at some point come to terms with the legacy of its brutal past. Among its activities are policy advocacy, taking a leading role in the civil society efforts to press for a truth commission and reform of laws related to prosecution of human rights violators and the protection of victims and witnesses. In addition, it has undertaken documentation, reporting and advocacy to international organizations including the UN Human Rights Council and its mandated OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), the report of which was issued in September 2015 (A/HRC/30/CRP.2). In recognition of the importance of public support for concrete efforts towards truth and justice, it has also undertaken public advocacy including a Tamil-language film about transitional justice (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=io6fPvEUl04). While young, SACLS is well-placed to contribute to shaping the growing desire for transitional justice in Sri Lanka. See http://sacls.org.
Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers (ZPIL), Beijing, China
ZPIL is an umbrella organization that encompasses several subsidiary legal aid and research centers, including the Beijing Migrant Worker’s Legal Aid and Research Center, the Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center, and the Beijing Rural Areas Rule of Law Research Center. Each branch of ZPIL operates independently, dealing with issues specifically related to its unique mission statement, and in five distinct capacities: providing direct legal services to clients; conducting evidence-based research on legal issues relevant in China; providing legislative recommendations to the Chinese government; promoting pro bono work within China’s professional legal community; and building relations within its community, including through holding classes and workshops to educate the public on their legal rights. Some level of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese is needed for this internship. See www.zgnmg.org; chinapublicinterest.wordpress.com; www.brennancenter.org/blog/comparison-between-brennan-center-justice-and-zhicheng-public-interest-lawyers.
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Berlin, Germany
Founded in 2007, the ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting civil and human rights throughout Europe. It aims to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other declarations of human rights and national constitutions, by juridical means. ECCHR engages in innovative strategic litigation, using European, international, and national law to enforce human rights and to hold state and non-state actors accountable for egregious abuses, with a focus on cases with the greatest likelihood of setting precedents and advancing policies that strengthen the legal framework for global human rights accountability. It actively litigates cases, but also researches, investigates, and helps to coordinate the development strategies of legal advocacy around cases. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). See www.ecchr.de.
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), Budapest, Hungary
ERRC is an international public interest law organization working against anti-Romani racism and human rights violations of Roma through strategic litigation, research and policy development, advocacy, and human rights education. Since its establishment in 1996, ERRC has sought to provide Roma with the tools necessary to combat discrimination and achieve equal access to justice, education, housing, health care and public services. ERRC has consultative status with the Council of Europe, as well as with the UN Economic and Social Council. ERRC’s thematic priorities for 2013-2017 include: state response to violence and hate speech; access to education; access to housing; free movement and migration; identity documents; women’s and children’s rights; and disaggregated data collection. See www.errc.org.
JUSTICE, London, United Kingdom
Founded in 1957, JUSTICE is an all-party law reform and human rights organization working to strengthen the justice system – administrative, civil and criminal – in the United Kingdom. It is the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists. Its vision is of fair, accessible and efficient legal processes, in which the individual’s rights are protected, and which reflect the country’s international reputation for upholding and promoting the rule of law. The student fellow will work with JUSTICE lawyers on UK human rights matters which are heavily reliant on international and comparative law. See www.justice.org.uk.
UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals—ICTY Branch (MICT), The Hague, Netherlands
The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (the MICT) was established by the UN Security Council in 2010 to carry out a number of essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after the completion of their respective mandates. The establishment of the Mechanism was a key step of the Completion Strategies of the two Tribunals. It is a relatively new, small, temporary and efficient body, tasked with continuing the “jurisdiction, rights and obligations and essential functions” (UNSC Resolution 1966) of the ICTR and the ICTY; and maintaining the legacy of both institutions. The ILHR placement will be in the ICTY branch, located in The Hague. The Mechanism performs a number of essential functions previously carried out by the ICTY, including conducting and completing all appellate proceedings for which the notice of appeal against the judgement or sentence is filed after the start date of the respective branch; and retrials of ICTY indictees ordered by the Appeals Chamber six or fewer months before the start date of the ICTY branch of the MICT on July 1, 2013. The Mechanism also responds to requests for assistance from national authorities, not restricted to Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, in relation to national investigations, prosecutions and trials. See www.unmict.org.
Middle East and North Africa
Al-Haq, Ramallah, Palestine
Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian human rights organization founded in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). It documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding violators accountable. Al-Haq also cooperates with Palestinian civil society organizations and governmental institutions in order to ensure that international human rights standards are reflected in Palestinian law and policies. It is the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. While not a prerequisite, knowledge of Arabic will enhance the internship experience. See www.alhaq.org.
Bizchut, The Israeli Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, Jerusalem, Israel
Founded in 1992 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bizchut has become the main organization in Israel for individuals whose rights have been violated in light of disability, their family members, professionals and organizations working in the field and decision makers in the Knesset and government. Bizchut represents people across the entire spectrum of disabilities, regardless of age, gender, ethnic or religious background. It works to enable people with physical, intellectual, sensory, mental and learning disabilities to participate as fully and independently as possible in the life of the mainstream community. The name “Bizchut” (by right) reflects its belief that all people are entitled to the same rights and that the needs of people with disabilities must be met on the basis of entitlement rather than from a charity-based perspective. Among its achievements is the 1998 Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law that began its life as a draft law prepared by Bizchut. While not a pre-requisite, knowledge of Hebrew will enhance the internship experience. See bizchut.org.il/en/.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Amman, Jordan and Beirut, Lebanon
UNHCR was established in 1950 by the UN General Assembly. It is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. Today, UNHCR is one of the world’s principal humanitarian agencies, its staff of nearly 9,300 personnel helping nearly 43 million people in 123 countries. Placements are anticipated at two UNHCR field offices: the Amman and Beirut offices where the work focuses on Syrian refugees. While not a pre-requisite, knowledge of Arabic will enhance the internship experience in the Amman and Beirut offices. Note: These placements are for 12 weeks (3 months). See www.unhcr.org.
UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), The Hague, Netherlands
Created in 2006 by the UN Security Council and through a subsequent agreement between the UN and the government of Lebanon, the STL became a functioning tribunal in 2009. Its primary mandate is to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of February 14, 2005 resulting in the death of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The STL Statute calls for the application of the Lebanese Criminal Code in its work, but standards of justice, including principles of due process, are to be based on international standards of criminal justice as applied in other international tribunals. It has four organs: Chambers, Office of the Prosecutor, Defence Office and Registry. The STL has three official languages (English, French and Arabic) and two working languages (English and French). Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). See www.stl-tsl.org/en/.
INTERNATIONAL LAW PLACEMENTS
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service (CLJAS) in the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, New York, United States
Justice and corrections experts are deployed the world over in UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions to restore and stabilize justice and corrections systems affected by conflict. CLJAS supports these experts in the field in a wide variety of ways. These include: planning justice and corrections aspects of peacekeeping operations; advising and assisting justice and corrections field personnel as they work to re-establish the criminal justice chain in cooperation with national and UN police; developing guidance and training materials; delivering training programs; and strengthening partnerships and program delivery with other rule of law actors. The justice component of CLJAS’s work includes: assisting national authorities in the restoration of criminal justice systems to hold perpetrators of crimes to account; laying the foundations for longer-term institutional reform; assisting in the development of national justice strategies; and establishing linkages between informal and customary justice systems and the formal justice system. The corrections component of CLJAS’s work includes: assisting national authorities to improve prison-related legislation, policies and protocols; supporting national prison authorities on operational and security protocols; delivering training; and improving compliance with international standards on the treatment of prisoners. Students interested in this placement should ideally have grounding in international criminal law and strong English drafting skills. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks. See www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/issues/ruleoflaw/.
UN International Law Commission (ILC), Geneva, Switzerland (7 students)
The International Law Commission is the legal codification arm of the United Nations. It meets every summer in Geneva to consider proposals for treaties, declarations of principles and other codifications or elaborations of norms previously only the subject of customary international law. Examples of the issues debated by the Commission in the past include the establishment of a permanent international criminal court, and the formulation of the law on state responsibility. Current topics are: protection of persons in the event of disasters; immunity of state officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction; subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties; most-favored-nation clause; provisional application of treaties; identification of customary international law; protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts; protection of the atmosphere; crimes against humanity; and Jus Cogens. Members of the Commission are prominent experts in public international law and are elected by the UN General Assembly in their individual capacities. Each student fellow is assigned to work with a particular Commission member. This internship is cerebral and scholarly, not action packed -‑ students typically undertake work assigned by Commission members, attend ILC meetings, conduct research, and assist in the preparation of major papers. The Commission session begins in early May, so students must travel to Geneva as soon as possible after exams and return in mid‑August. For the membership and work of the Commission, see its most recent annual report and other information at www.un.org/law/ilc/.