International Law and Human Rights Fellowship

NYU Law at the International Law Commission at the UN in Geneva in summer 2015: from left to right: Andrew Larkin (Class of 2017); Emily Buist-Catherwood (LLM 2015); Daniel Peck (Class of 2017); Haley Anderson (JD 2014, LLM 2015); Regina Hsu (Class of 2017); Cristina Passoni (Class of 2017); Kexin Zheng (Class of 2017); Hendrik Denys (LLM 2015); Juergen Bering (LLM 2015).

NYU Law at the International Law Commission at the UN in Geneva in summer 2015: from left to right: Andrew Larkin (Class of 2017); Emily Buist-Catherwood (LLM 2015); Daniel Peck (Class of 2017); Haley Anderson (JD 2014, LLM 2015); Regina Hsu (Class of 2017); Cristina Passoni (Class of 2017); Kexin Zheng (Class of 2017); Hendrik Denys (LLM 2015); Juergen Bering (LLM 2015).

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, in cooperation with the Institute for International Law and Justice, administers a fellowship program for selected NYU School of Law students that combines academic and practical experience in international law and human rights. The International Law and Human Rights  Fellowship Program offers the opportunity to complete a specialized training program in international law, undertake a summer internship at a leading institution or organization, and complete a substantial research paper growing out of that work experience. Established in 2002, the Fellowship Program is undertaken with support from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC). A modest stipend is available for students selected for the Fellowship.

The application for the 2015-16 International Law and Human Rights Fellowship is available here.

Eligible applicants for the Fellowship are persons who are at the time of application full-time first-year JD, second-year JD, LLM and JSD students at NYU School of Law. The application, interview and selection process is competitive and rigorous and occurs during the Fall Semester.

For more information about the nature of activities at particular placement sites, review internship reports of the PILC Summer Funding Program (NYU NetID and password required).

During the 2014-15 academic year, there were 29 ILHR Fellows, with fieldwork placements at 22 leading institutions, inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental in 20 countries

Training Program

During the Spring Semester, ILHR Fellows complete seminars on substantive international law issues that are relevant to their internships. Most students with internship placements at the International Law Commission are required to enroll in a 2-credit course about the ILC in the Spring semester. For a description of the seminars, see the 2016 Seminars.

Research Paper

ILHR Fellows undertake a supervised research project on a human rights, transitional justice or international law issue to be agreed upon in advance with academic supervisors at NYU. JD Fellows, other than those with internships at the International Law Commission, may choose to do the paper for course credit.


ILHR Fellows conduct fieldwork through summer internships at placement sites for which they have applied and been selected, generally for 10 to 12 weeks. The nature of the fieldwork experience varies according to placement site, but may include direct client interaction, legal research, work on domestic campaigns, attending relevant meetings, drafting research or policy papers, or general institutional support as assigned by the host institution.


The CHRGJ created the ILHR Fellows Blog for student fellows to blog about their summer internship placements. This offers students an exciting opportunity to give more visibility to their work, to share experiences and to build their professional reputation as lawyers and scholars. Guidelines for the blog – including confidentiality considerations – will be made available during the spring semester.

Read the 2015 ILHR Fellows’ Blog.

Fellowship Placement Opportunities
Al-Haq, Ramallah, West Bank

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. For more information, see

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 the democratic system 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 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. Its approaches to these issues include strategic litigation and investigations of human rights violations from a multidisciplinary perspective. For more information, see

Defence for Children International–Sierra Leone (DCI-SL), Freetown, Sierra Leone

DCI-SL was founded in 1998 during the peak of Sierra Leonean civil war, a time when the rights of many child citizens were gravely violated. It was initially established to monitor and document violations of children’s rights and to provide legal assistance to child victims 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. For more information, see

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. For more information, see

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Office of the Co-Prosecutors, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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. The internship will be with the OCP. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). For more information, see

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. For more information, see

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Washington, D.C.

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). For more information, see

International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Bogotá, Colombia and 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.

ICTJ has worked in Colombia since 2003. The Colombia government is in peace talks with FARC to reach an end one of the most intractable armed conflicts in the Western Hemisphere. ICTJ’s work focuses on strengthening national mechanisms for the protection of victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparation, primarily through building judicial capacity, advocating for victims’ rights, monitoring and research and truth-seeking in community-based projects. Proficiency in Spanish is needed for students interested in this placement. For more information, see

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. For more information, see

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Appeals Chamber, The Hague, Netherlands

The ICTY was established by the UN Security Council in 1993 in the face of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. The Tribunal’s authority is to prosecute and try four clusters of offences: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions; violations of the laws or customs of war; genocide; and crimes against humanity. The internship will be with the Appeals Chamber. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). For more information, see

International Organization for Migration (IOM), Counter-Trafficking Unit, Bangkok, Thailand

Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 156 member states, a further 10 states holding observer status and some 8,400 staff in over 150 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. The internship will be with the Counter-Trafficking Unit in IOM Regional Office for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok. Its broad range of activities is implemented in partnership with governmental institutions, NGOs and international organizations and is based on three principles that govern all its counter-trafficking activities: respect for human rights; physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community; and sustainability through institutional capacity building of governments and civil society.  Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). For more information, see

International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

IWRAP-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. In 2014 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. For more information, see

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. For more information, see

South Asian 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 While young, SACLS is well-placed to contribute to shaping the growing desire for transitional justice in Sri Lanka. SALCS does not yet have a website but can be found on Facebook. See

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, DRC, 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. For more information, see

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

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 — a part of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations — 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 enhance 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 a grounding in international criminal law and strong English drafting skills. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). For more information, see

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Amman, Jordan; Beirut, Lebanon; and Dakar, Senegal

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 8,600 personnel helping approximately 33.9 million people in 125 countries. Placements are anticipated at four UNHCR field offices: the Amman, Ankara and Beirut offices where the work focuses on Syrian refugees; and the Dakar regional office where the work focuses on concerns in West Africa. Proficiency in French is needed for students interested in the Dakar internship. While not a pre-requisite, knowledge of Arabic will enhance the internship experience in the Amman, Ankara and Beirut offices. Note: These placements are for 12 weeks (3 months). For more information, see

UN International Law Commission (ILC), Geneva, Switzerland

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. In 2016 the Commission plans to meet from May 2 to June 10 and from July 4 to August 12. For the membership and work of the Commission, see its most recent annual report and other information at

UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), The Hague, The Netherlands

The MICT was established by the United Nations Security Council in December 2010 to carry out a number of essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), after the completion of their respective mandates. The establishment of the MICT is a key step of the Completion Strategies of the two Tribunals. It comprises two branches: One covers functions inherited from the ICTR and is located in Arusha, Tanzania. It commenced functioning on 1 July 2012. The second branch is located in The Hague and inherited functions from the ICTY. It commenced functioning on 1 July 2013. Note: This placement is for 12 weeks (3 months). For more information, see

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 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). For more information, see

Other Opportunities
Call for Applications: Scholars in Residence Program 2023-2024
Call for Applications: Human Rights Scholars Program 2022-2023

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