Global Justice Clinic

The Global Justice Clinic works with social movements and community partners to prevent, challenge, and redress human rights violations stemming from contemporary structures of global injustice. The Clinic challenges extractive economic systems and exploitative power relations, and engages with cross-border challenges that require transnational collaboration. Using a rights-based, legal empowerment approach, the Clinic seeks to work in solidarity with those most impacted by global injustice.

Serving as advisors, co-counsel, or advocacy partners, LLM and JD students engage in human rights investigation and data gathering, cross-disciplinary research, social movement support, litigation, and advocacy, in collaboration with activists domestically and around the world.

Human Rights-Based, Legal Empowerment Approach

The Global Justice Clinic prepares law students to be self-reflective, accountable, and innovative human rights lawyers. The Clinic works in a rights-based manner that embraces critical legal empowerment aimed at shifting power to marginalized communities as they claim their rights. The goal of these efforts is not only justice in outcomes: it is ensuring that individuals and communities deprived of their rights lead efforts to achieve systemic change.

The Clinic embraces anti-racist methods and views human rights practice as a means to challenge structural oppression in partnership with directly impacted individuals and communities.

To tackle complex challenges and shift power, the Clinic innovates and expands the human rights toolbox, including through interdisciplinary methods. The Clinic draws on insights and works in collaboration with experts in other fields, including earth sciences, open source investigations, journalism, public health, forensics, sociology, and anthropology.


Student and Partner Voices

Project Impact

Projects tackle situations of global injustice where the Clinic has a valuable contribution to make, and where it can support–and not displace–local expertise and capacity. Most projects are multi-year: the Clinic fosters long-term relationships of solidarity with partners. This includes both planned project activities and, frequently, additional legal and advocacy support as needs arise. Over the last decade the Clinic has secured important legal and advocacy victories alongside our partners.

In Haiti, the Clinic’s almost ten-year collaboration with social movement Kolektif Jistis Min and community organizations resisting mining has helped forestall environmental degradation and human rights violations inherent to the development of the gold mining industry. More recent climate and environmental justice work is supporting community mobilization and resistance to pervasive land grabbing.

The Clinic’s work in Haiti includes frequent statements of political solidarity that catalyze scrutiny of damaging U.S. foreign policy. Clinic staff and students have testified and prepared colleagues to testify before the U.S. Congress, at the UN Security Council, and before international and regional human rights bodies. Work on Haitian migration has supported successful federal court litigation to preserve Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti, direct U.S. government advocacy to halt deportations to Haiti and secure TPS redesignation, and the groundbreaking conference on immigration and racial justice, Jean v Nelson at 35.

In Guyana, the Clinic supports the South Rupununi District Council’s (SRDC) extensive territorial and environmental monitoring program to protect indigenous Wapichan lands from mining, grazing and deforestation. The Clinic works with the SRDC to access key international fora, to mount successful legal challenges to projects that would undermine their land rights and sovereignty, and to facilitate the essential leadership of women environmental defenders through the Wapichan Women’s Movement.

In the U.S., the Clinic challenges cycles of incarceration through the Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative (JLI), a partnership between NYU’s Bernstein Institute and the Legal Empowerment Advocacy Hub (LEAH). JLI works with jailhouse lawyers to ensure they have the tools to know, use, shape and ultimately transform legal systems from the inside out.

For nearly two decades, the Clinic–and its predecessor, the International Human Rights Clinic– has been a leading advocate in exposing U.S. national security abuses. The Clinic brought pioneering cases challenging the U.S.-led extraordinary rendition program in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission on Human Rights. Its legal analysis and investigative work has been cited by courts, investigative mechanisms, and human rights bodies around the world.

Work on these diverse projects allows students to find their role as human rights lawyers alongside collaborative partners, while delivering real world impact.

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


Current Projects
Caribbean Climate Justice Initiative
Haiti Justice and International Accountability
Jailhouse Lawyer Initiative
Indigenous Land Rights and Earth Defense
Rights without Borders: Haitian Immigrant Rights
Torture, Rendition, and Disappearances
Ellie Happel
Adjunct Professor, Global Justice Clinic
Co-Director, Haiti Justice and International Accountability
Co-Director, Caribbean Climate Justice Initiative
Gabrielle Apollon
Co-Director, Haiti Justice & International Accountability Project
Supervising Attorney, Torture, Rendition, and Disappearances Project
Margaret L. Satterthwaite
CHRGJ Faculty Director
Director, Global Justice Clinic
Professor of Clinical Law
Sienna Merope-Synge
Co-Director, Caribbean Climate Justice Initiative
Supervising Attorney, Indigenous Land Rights and Earth Defence Project
Sukti Dhital
Executive Director, Bernstein Institute
Tyler Walton
Tuttleman Legal Empowerment Fellow, Bernstein Institute
Past Global Justice Clinic Projects
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April 18, 2022
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