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June 29, 2018

Job Posting: International Human Rights Clinic Hiring Clinical Instructor


The International Human Rights Clinic, which is part of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, is inviting applications for a Clinical Instructor. The Clinic offers second and third year students, as well as LLM students, the opportunity to work on a variety of timely and complex human rights issues in partnership with clients, civil society organizations, and affected communities around the world, including in the United States. Through supervised practice and intense mentorship, clinical students develop a range of skills necessary to become thoughtful, critical, creative, strategic, and effective human rights advocates.

The Clinical Instructor will be a legally-trained practitioner with at least five years of demonstrated experience in, and commitment to, human rights, including experience training, teaching, or mentoring law students. S/he will join a vibrant community of human rights practitioners and scholars at Harvard Law School. The Clinical Instructor will design, oversee, and execute clinical projects, and supervise and manage student teams. Clinical projects deploy a variety of strategies and methodologies and may include fact-finding investigations and advocacy efforts, human rights reporting, legislative drafting, litigation in national and international fora, media advocacy, policy initiatives, coalition building, and negotiating treaty provisions. Over the course of the term appointment, the Clinical Instructor may also have an opportunity to be appointed a Lecturer on Law and to develop and teach clinical seminars.

The position is expected to begin in early / mid- 2019 and extend through June 2021.

For the full job ad and to apply, please go through the Harvard Jobs Portal.

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June 25, 2018

Clinic’s Parliamentary Submission Urges Marshall Islands to Reap Benefits of Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Posted by Bonnie Docherty

Countries gather for the signing ceremony of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the UN in September 2017. Photo by Bonnie Docherty

The Marshall Islands (RMI), which still suffers from the catastrophic effects of 67 U.S. nuclear tests, has much to gain by joining the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

If it became a state party, the RMI would be entitled to new sources of assistance to address the ongoing human and environmental harm caused by nuclear testing. The RMI would also advance the cause of nuclear disarmament, which the country has historically supported, and become a leader among Pacific and affected states.

While some Marshallese are concerned about the TPNW’s ramifications for the Compact of Free Association between the RMI and the United States, the Compact should not be seen as an insurmountable legal obstacle to joining a treaty that would benefit the Marshallese people and their environment.

The RMI’s parliament (Nitjela) has the power to decide whether to sign and ratify the TPNW. Its Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade is currently considering Resolution 46, which would approve those steps. In July 2017, the RMI joined 121 other countries in voting to adopt the TPNW at the United Nations.

In a submission made to the parliamentary committee this week, the Clinic encourages the Nitijela to approve Resolution 46, and the country to sign and ratify the TPNW. The submission details the advantages of joining the treaty for the RMI and shows how the TPNW can be understood as legally compatible with the Compact. The Clinic has also released a more in-depth analysis of the relationship between the TPNW and the Compact.

The TPNW’s provisions on victim assistance and environmental remediation, for which the Clinic advocated actively during the treaty’s negotiations, provide the RMI humanitarian incentives become a party. The treaty mandates a range of assistance for affected individuals, including medical care, psychological support, measures to ensure socioeconomic inclusion, and human rights protections. The treaty also requires measures to reduce environmental contamination and exposure to radioactive materials.

The TPNW spreads responsibility for victim assistance and environmental remediation across the countries that are party to the treaty. Affected countries, such as the RMI, bear the responsibility to lead these efforts, but other states parties in a position to do so are required to help them meet their obligations.

While the Compact grants the U.S. “full authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in or relating to” the RMI, the Clinic’s analysis finds that the RMI’s obligations under the TPNW and the Compact are not per se contradictory. It emphasizes that the Compact requires the U.S. to “accord due respect” to the RMI’s foreign affairs authority and responsibility for its people’s well-being. If the U.S. sought to block the RMI’s ratification of the TPNW or withhold aid in response, it would be failing to honor its commitment in the Compact to respect the RMI’s sovereign right to act in the interests of its people.

In March 2018, the Clinic visited the RMI to discuss the TPNW with government officials, civil society members, and individuals affected by testing. The Clinic based its conclusions and recommendations on those conversations and a close analysis of the TPNW and the Compact.

In addition to requiring victim assistance and environmental remediation, the TPNW includes comprehensive prohibitions on activities involving nuclear weapons. The TPNW has been signed by 59 countries and ratified by 10. It will enter into force when 50 countries complete their ratification.

 

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June 12, 2018

HRP Awards Four Post-Graduate Fellowships in Human Rights for the 2018-2019 Year


The Human Rights Program is pleased to announce its cohort of post-graduate fellowships in human rights. This year, Conor Hartnett, JD’18, and Alejandra Elguero Altner, LLM’17, have been awarded the Henigson Human Rights Fellowship and Jenny B. Domino, LLM’18, and Anna Khalfaoui, LLM’17, have been awarded the Satter Human Rights Fellowship.


Conor Hartnett will be a Legal Fellow with Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he will focus on transitional justice within two different spheres: criminal justice accountability and education. As a fellow, he will provide technical assistance to criminal justice organizations attempting to hold war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable for their activities. He will also help develop curricula on transitional justice and human rights for a host of different universities. With a sustained interest in human rights and international development, Conor made human rights the focus of his law school career: spending multiple semesters in the International Human Rights Clinic and contributing substantially to the leadership and growth of the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Prior to law school, he was a fellow in the Peace Corps where he developed a human rights education curriculum for students in the Republic of Georgia.

 

Alejandra Elguero Altner will be a Legal Fellow with Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) in Nairobi, Kenya, where she will work on projects that address sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV) in South Sudan and Somalia. With both societies in long-term conflict, Alejandra will be helping to strengthen the ability of civil society organizations and attorneys to hold perpetrators of SGBV accountable. Having graduated with an LLM in 2017, Alejandra has spent the last year with the Organization of American States consulting on a number of related projects, including Mexico’s compliance with international legal obligations regarding violence towards women and their access to justice. Prior to her LLM, she worked to combat human trafficking and provide access to justice to SGBV survivors and held positions with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Ignacio Ellacuria Human Rights Institute.

 

Jenny B. Domino will work with ARTICLE 19 in Myanmar, strengthening the organization’s response to hate speech, specifically as it incites violence and provokes atrocities committed against the Rohingya community. Throughout her career, Jenny has dedicated herself to deepening the commitment to international human rights law in the ASEAN region. In her home country of the Philippines, she spearheaded the Commission on Human Rights’ investigation of the state leaders most responsible for the extrajudicial killings arising from President Duterte’s drug war. Her investigation helped prompt the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary examination into whether these killings constitute crimes against humanity.

 

Anna Khalfaoui will work with the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporting programs in North and South Kivu, where there are increasing attacks against civilians and high levels of sexual violence that are committed with impunity. She will support ABA-ROLI’s early warning and response system for preventing atrocities and provide legal assistance to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to file cases with civilian and military authorities. Anna is a French lawyer who trained in the International Human Rights Clinic. She currently serves as a consultant for the Center for Civilians in Conflict.

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June 7, 2018

New Clinic Reports Call on NATO Members, Sweden to Join Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Posted by Bonnie Docherty

As preparations for a US-North Korea summit highlight the ongoing threat posed by nuclear weapons, proponents of nuclear disarmament should increase their support for the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Momentum has been building. In May alone, three more countries ratified the treaty, bringing the total to 10; another 48 have signed. In addition, several countries have initiated national processes that represent an important step toward coming on board.

In this context, the Clinic is releasing two papers demonstrating why it is legally possible for even allies of nuclear armed states to join the TPNW.

The first paper examines the implications of the TPNW for “nuclear umbrella” states, notably US allies, that wish to join the new treaty. It finds that once a country is party to the TPNW, it may no longer remain under the protection of a nuclear umbrella, i.e., rely on an ally’s nuclear weapons for defense.

In most cases, however, a country may sign and ratify the TPNW without violating its legal obligations under a security agreement with a nuclear armed state. The TPNW would also allow it to continue participate in joint military operations with nuclear armed states as long as it does not assist with prohibited acts, such as possessing, threatening to use, or using nuclear weapons.

A NATO member state that joined the TPNW would therefore have to renounce its nuclear umbrella status, but from a legal perspective, it could remain a part of the existing alliance. The same would be true for other US allies, including Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

A second Clinic paper focuses specifically on the situation of Sweden, which frequently partners with NATO but is not a member state. Sweden has appointed an inquiry chair to examine how joining the TPNW would affect Sweden’s defense policies and its obligations under other agreements. Sweden was one of 122 nations to adopt the TPNW in July 2017.

The Clinic concludes that if Sweden became a party to the treaty, the country could not assist its allies with prohibited activities involving nuclear weapons. It could, however, maintain its relationships with NATO and the European Union and continue to participate in joint military operations without violating the treaty.

Given Sweden’s historically strong support for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, Sweden should serve as a role model for other countries in a similar position. It should advance the TPNW’s goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and expedite its entry into force by joining as soon as possible. The treaty will enter into force, i.e., become binding law, once 50 states have become party.

The TPNW absolutely prohibits nuclear weapons. It also establishes positive obligations to assist victims and remediate the environment affected by the use and testing of nuclear weapons.

The Clinic participated actively in last year’s negotiations of the TPNW and has worked closely with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

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