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UN Human Rights Practice Course Information Session

Thursday, September 7, 2017 @ 12:45 pm - 1:45 pm

“We must be bolder and more creative in order to face up to threats that weigh heavily on civil society as a whole and on every individual fighting for fundamental rights and freedoms.” 

 -Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur

The International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) invites you to consider enrolling in a new and exciting experiential opportunity on offer for the fall 2017 semester.

Application Deadline: September 15, 2017

 Apply at: https://berkeleylaw.wufoo.com/forms/2017-un-human-rights-practice-course/

Course Description

This one (1) credit short course, conducted over five class sessions with approximately ten students, will combine human rights practice with an intimate, thoughtful, and dynamic exploration of the international legal framework addressing the human rights of human rights defenders. Students will work under the supervision of IHRLC faculty to draft legal decisions on complaints of human rights violations committed against human rights defenders and lodged before the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. The course participants’ work will be incorporated into the Special Rapporteur’s 2018 observation report to the U.N. Human Rights Council. In conjunction with their work, students participating in the short course will engage with related topics through assigned readings, training sessions, thematic group discussions, and a private meeting at Berkeley Law with the current Special Rapporteur, Mr. Michel Forst.                                                                                           

About the U.N. Special Rapporteur’s Work

Recent events, including the murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras and the jailing of Zainab Al Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights and democracy activist, highlight the dangers faced by human rights defenders around the globe. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders receives the largest number of complaints among the over two dozen U.N. Special Rapporteurs. In many cases, such complaints are the only legal recourse remaining to victims. The Special Rapporteur seeks to engage with U.N. member States by requesting their reply to these complaints and making observations that bring international standards to bear on the practices of State and non-State actors. These observations often represent the only official acknowledgment to victims that their treatment is illegal. The Special Rapporteur’s observation reports are vital in turning the eyes of the world toward these violations, promoting the rule of law in member States, and highlighting the dire impacts of the widespread targeting of human rights defenders for threats, intimidation, violence, and even death. Student participants in the course will have the unique opportunity to make direct, immediate, and lasting contributions to this vitally important work.

Further Details

The course will meet at the following dates and times: Friday, October 13th (1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.); Saturday, October 14th (10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.); Friday, October 20th (1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.); Saturday, October 21st (10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.); and Friday, November 3rd (1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.). The course is offered on a credit/no credit basis and there is no exam. Full attendance at each seminar session is mandatory. Admission to the course is by application only. Preference in enrollment will be given to LL.M. students, particularly those with written fluency in English and Spanish and/or French. However, interested 2L and 3L students are encouraged to apply to the course as well.


If you have further questions, please contact Katrina Natale, IHRLC clinical teaching fellow and co-instructor for this course (knatale@clinical.law.berkeley.edu).


Thursday, September 7, 2017
12:45 pm - 1:45 pm


240 Law Building


Katrina Natale
(510) 642-4139

Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.

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