Global Justice Clinic

Through the Global Justice Clinic, JD and LLM students at NYU School of Law work to prevent, challenge, and redress human rights violations in situations of global inequality.

Taking on cases and projects that involve cross-border human rights violations, the harmful impacts of activities by state and non-state actors, and emerging problems that require close collaboration between actors at the local and international levels, students engage in human rights investigation, advocacy, and litigation in domestic and international settings. Serving as legal advisers, counsel, co-counsel, or advocacy partners, Clinic students work side-by-side with human rights activists from around the world.

A Human Rights-Based Approach

The Global Justice Clinic endeavors to carry out its work in a rights-based manner that empowers marginalized populations to know and exercise their rights, and that uses methods from across a variety of disciplines.

The Clinic works in proximity with communities and grassroots organizations to ensure they have access to the information and tools they need to advance the fulfillment of rights, to anticipate and prevent human rights abuses, and to seek accountability for violations.

The goal of these legal empowerment efforts is not only justice; it is to support individuals and communities deprived of their rights to lead efforts to prevent and redress abuses.


Fieldwork consists of projects undertaken for or with individual clients, human rights organizations, and social movement groups in the United States and abroad, as well as intergovernmental human rights experts and bodies, including the United Nations. Projects focus on situations of global injustice where the Global Justice Clinic has a comparatively valuable contribution to make, and where it is not displacing local expertise and capacity.

Over the last decade, the Clinic has provided cutting edge legal analysis exposing human rights abuses premised on national security and counter-terrorism imperatives, including practices such as extraordinary rendition, disappearances, and detainee abuse. As the landscape of the “War on Terror” continues to shift and evolve, so do the Clinic’s areas of concern, which have spread to include the gendered impacts of U.S. counter-terrorism measures, the impacts of lethal robotics and drones, and, most recently, the misuse of commercial spyware by the surveillance state.

In addition to tackling these and other pressing civil and political rights issues, the Clinic works to defend and promote economic, social and cultural rights. It does so by using cutting-edge methodologies to assess—and advocate for—the fulfillment of rights, such as the rights to water and food, examining the roles played by international institutional actors, pushing for corporate accountability, and fostering dialogue between the development and human rights communities.

Projects on these diverse issues give students an opportunity to find their role alongside collaborative partners in formulating policy, conducting research, and developing strategic legal responses to challenging human rights problems.

GJC supervising attorneys Nikki Reisch and Ellie Happel with GJC students Tyler Walton and Astha Sharma Pokharel, and GJC partner Samuel Nesner (Kolektif Jistis Min), meeting with partners in a community empowerment project in Kenyasi, Ghana
GJC supervising attorneys Nikki Reisch and Ellie Happel with GJC students Tyler Walton and Astha Sharma Pokharel, and GJC partner Samuel Nesner (Kolektif Jistis Min), meeting with partners in a community empowerment project in Kenyasi, Ghana


The seminar component of the Clinic critically examines the human rights field, while teaching the core skills of human rights work, including fact-finding, interviewing, advocacy, litigation, and evaluation. The Clinic is committed to interrogating and expanding the human rights toolbox by using methods drawn from—and in collaboration with experts in—other fields, including geology, hydrology, public health, forensics, and anthropology.

Students also address questions of ethical, political and professional responsibility related to human rights work. Through readings, discussions, and simulations, students gain familiarity with substantive human rights law and methodologies of human rights practice, developing a base of knowledge that serves them in their Clinic projects and beyond.

For more information on the Clinic and application instructions, please visit the NYU School of Law website.

Margaret L. Satterthwaite
CHRGJ Faculty Director
Director, Global Justice Clinic
Professor of Clinical Law
Ellie Happel
Haiti Project Director
Staff Attorney, Global Justice Clinic
Nikki Reisch
CHRGJ Legal Director
Supervising Attorney, Global Justice Clinic
Katie Wightman
Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellow
Judith Bauder
Consultant, Haiti Project
Current Projects
Torture, Rendition, and Detention
Human Rights in Haiti’s Emerging Mining Sector
Legal Empowerment through Community-Led Monitoring
Commercial Spyware and the Surveillance State
Legal Empowerment and Immigration
Past Global Justice Clinic Projects
  • Tax and Human Rights
  • Racial Justice and Police Violence
  • Gender-Based Violence and Economic and Social Rights in Haiti
  • Human Rights to Water and Sanitation
  • Right to Food in Haiti
  • Freedom of Information Act Litigation
  • Gender, National Security, and Counter-terrorism
  • Lethal Robotics, Drones, and Targeted Killings
  • Protest and Assembly Rights
Student and Partner Voices
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May 14, 2019
Global Justice Clinic Submits Briefing on the Surveillance Industry and Human Rights to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression
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