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Human Rights @ Harvard Law

The Human Rights Program works on a range of issues through our Academic Program and our International Human Rights Clinic. We specialize in thematic topics and geographic regions where faculty and staff have particular commitment, expertise, and experience. In these areas, we concentrate our research pursuits as well as our practice and partnerships, helping to shape doctrine, discourse, and policy.

For the past thirty years, survivors of egregious human rights violations have used the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as a means to seek justice in U.S. Courts. The ATS was passed as part of the First Judiciary Act in 1789 and allows non-U.S. citizens to bring civil suits in U.S. federal courts for violations of international law. An important body of law has developed under the ATS since 1980 to hold perpetrators to account for violations such as extrajudicial killing, torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The Clinic has played a major role in ATS litigation since 2004, serving as co-counsel in several major cases, regularly filing amicus curiae briefs, and providing extensive legal research and drafting, fact-finding support, and strategic guidance.