Blog: Fellowships

January 21, 2015

Post-Graduate Fellowships: Upcoming Deadlines!

This is your friendly reminder from the Human Rights Program that there are several post-graduate fellowship opportunities with deadlines in February and March. The full list from OPIA is available here.

Judy Murciano, Fellowships Director

We strongly advise you to tap into the wisdom and generosity of Judy Murciano, Fellowships Director, who is available for advising now and throughout the year. She is, without a doubt, one of the best resources available at HLS.

A couple of pressing deadlines are worth noting: Materials for the University Traveling Fellowships (The Kennedy, Knox and Shelton Traveling Fellowships, as they are collectively known, and the Australian Graduate Research Fellowships) must be submitted to Judy, by hard copy, the week of Feb. 2, so that she can write nominating letters by Feb. 13. The fellowships support a full academic year of research or study abroad for Harvard graduate/doctoral students or 2015 graduates of one of Harvard’s professional schools.

Applications for the Ford Foundation’s Post-Graduate Fellowship in Public Interest Law are due to OPIA by February 9. The fellowship funds one year of full-time work at a Ford Foundation grantee organization beginning in fall 2015. Only 3Ls, clerks, and JD alumni presently on 1 year fellowships may apply. Strong preference will be given to 3Ls.

The application for the Public Service Venture Fund is due March 2 for work in the public interest at either a non-profit or government agency. Strong preference for 3Ls, but clerks and LLMs may apply. All materials must be submitted online.

HRP also offers two post-graduate fellowships- the Henigson and the Satter– both of which have deadlines in early March. To find out more about those fellowships, please join us on Jan. 30 for an informational session at noon in WCC 4059.


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September 15, 2014

Student Perspective: Protecting Freedom of Expression, in Ethiopia and Beyond

Posted by Lindsay Church, JD '16

In July 2012, Eskinder Nega was sentenced to 18 years in prison. In June 2011, Reeyot Alemu was arrested and convicted to 14 years of imprisonment, reduced to five on appeal.

Their crimes? Practicing journalism in Ethiopia.

reeyot-AlemuNega and Alemu are award-winning journalists who shared the prestigious Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Award in 2012. For Nega, whose first child was born while he and his wife were in custody for treason , the arrest came days after publishing a column that criticized the Ethiopian government’s detainment of journalists as suspected terrorists. For Alemu, a former high school English teacher, the arrest came days after she critiqued the ruling political party in an independent newspaper later shut down by the government.

The basis for the charges against these journalists is Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which contains overly vague provisions that have been used by the government to silence its critics. Since the Proclamation was adopted, more than 30 journalists have been convicted on terrorism-related charges.

Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of working on behalf of Nega and Alemu as a fellow with the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI). The small London-based non-profit works directly with journalists and bloggers who have been prosecuted for exercising their protected right to freedom of expression. With the help of partner organizations, MLDI’s staff are currently working on 107 cases in 41 countries; the organization’s success rate in receiving favorable decisions hovers around 70 percent.

Courtesy: Amnesty International

Courtesy: Amnesty International

Because I studied journalism before coming to law school, I know the range of challenges American journalists face, from accessing information to protecting sources to the threat of civil liability. Still, it was always clear to me that the First Amendment by and large provides a greater amount of protection to journalists than any other national legal system. As my work at MLDI made clear this summer, freedom of expression is severely restricted in other countries—by censorship, regulations, state-operated monopolies, criminal liability, and physical threat, among others.

For example, on my very first day, I worked on a petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the case of Le Quoc Quan, a Vietnamese human rights lawyer and blogger who was wrongfully prosecuted on trumped up charges of tax evasion. Throughout my internship, I also researched case law from regional courts on freedom of expression, helped with an amicus curiae submission before the High Court of South Africa in a case about criminal defamation, and worked on a case in defense of a blogger in Singapore who is being sued by Lee Hsien Loong, the country’s prime minister.

When Nani Jansen, MLDI’s legal director, filed a submission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on behalf of Nega and Alemu, I had the opportunity to do preparatory work for the submission. I also helped in the filing of submissions to international and regional courts on behalf of Nega and Alemu.

At this point, their chances for release are still unknown, but the situation remains dire. Continue Reading…

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August 20, 2014

HRP Alumni in the News

Posted by Cara Solomon

We use all kinds of strategies here at the International Human Rights Clinic to push for change. Litigation. Treaty negotiation. Documentation and reporting.

As Communications Coordinator, I’ve always been partial to advocacy. Media advocacy, to be more precise. This summer, our alumni are putting it to great use in outlets all over the world.

On Monday, The Huffington Post ran a column by Nicolette Boehland, JD ’13, a Satter fellow with the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), documenting the devastating toll the conflict in Gaza is taking on civilians. For the column, Nicolette spoke by phone with Gazans she met last year while researching civilian perspectives on involvement, status, and risk in armed conflict, including in Libya, Bosnia, and Somalia.

In “No Safe Place in Gaza,” she writes:

A young woman described the crippling fear she had experienced over the last four weeks: “The worst of all is the night time,” she said. “There is no power, no electricity, and there are tens of drones in the sky. Whenever you hear a rocket, you think it’s targeting your house. You are running from one room to another. I know this is silly — if your house is hit, it won’t matter which room you were in.”

Each night, her family of six gathered on mattresses that they had pulled together in the middle of the living room, “far away from the windows, so that they don’t break,” she said. This way, if their house was hit, the whole family would be killed together. “We don’t want one of the family to survive and then have to grieve for the rest of us,” she said.

At the end of the column, Nicolette lists several strategies the Israeli government and Hamas could use to limit civilian suffering.

Closer to home, as police in combat gear clashed last week with protesters in Ferguson, MO, Sara Zampierin, JD ’11, a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, was quoted in a New Yorker article, “The Economics of Police Militarization.” The article attributed some of the tension in Ferguson to the underlying problem of “criminal justice debt,” which can often pit law enforcement against residents.

Now, across much of America, what starts as a simple speeding ticket can, if you’re too poor to pay, mushroom into an insurmountable debt, padded by probation fees and, if you don’t appear in court, by warrant fees…What happens when people fall behind on their payments? Often, police show up at their doorsteps and take them to jail.

From there, the snowball rolls. “Going to jail has huge impacts on people at the edge of poverty,” Sara Zampierin, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told me. “They lose their job, they lose custody of their kids, they get behind on their home-foreclosure payments,” the sum total of which, she said, is “devastating.” While in prison, “user fees” often accumulate, so that, even after you leave, you’re not quite free.

And earlier this summer, Clara Long, JD ’12, an immigration and border policy researcher with Human Rights Watch, waded into the heated debate over the surge of migration at the southeastern US border. In an Op-Ed she co-authored for The Guardian, Clara railed against the Obama administration’s plans to open more family detention centers. The headline read: “Obama pledged to limit the practice of detaining minors. What happened?”

It appears that the White House has come to view being “thoughtful and humane” as a political liability. The new move to ramp up family detention comes in response to criticism that the administration’s lax immigration enforcement “created a powerful incentive for children to cross into the United States illegally”, as Senator John Cornyn of Texas put it last week.

Obama’s move is all the more disappointing because effective alternatives to detention exist and are used in countries facing similar migration surges. Countries like Italy and Malta, prime entrances for migrants to the EU, have open reception facilities where migrant and asylum-seeking families can come and go at will – and Malta pledged to end immigration detention of children altogether in 2014. Though neither country has a spotless record – Italy summarily returns to Greece some unaccompanied migrant children and Malta sometimes detains unaccompanied migrant kids while authorities try to figure out their ages – their examples show that detaining kids with families is a choice, not a necessity.

Clara wrote another column for The Guardian on border removals in April.

In response to this flurry of activity, we at HRP have just two things to say: Thank you. And well done.

July 31, 2014

Fellowship Announcements!

Posted by Mindy Roseman

The Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce the establishment of the Global Justice Fellowship (GJF) with the generous support of the Planethood Foundation. The fellowship supports scholars, advocates, and practitioners with a demonstrated background in international justice and the rule of law. Of most interest are those whose work concerns ongoing human rights issues, especially those touching on egregious violations, including genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Matthew Bugher, JD ‘09, is the inaugural Global Justice Fellow. Over the coming year, Matthew will work to combat state-sponsored violence and persecution in Myanmar and Zimbabwe. More specifically, he will contribute to the Clinic’s ongoing advocacy relating to military policy reform in Myanmar; work with partners on new initiatives to promote accountability for gross human rights violations; and support local activists in their efforts to document abuses.

Earlier in the summer, the Human Rights Program made several other fellowship awards. With the support of a Henigson Human Rights Fellowship, Maryum Jordan, J.D. ’14, will work in Peru with EarthRights International; Lindsay Henson, J.D. ’14, will work in South Africa with Lawyers Against Abuse; Sarah Wheaton, J.D. ’14, will work in Egypt with St. Andrew’s Resettlement Legal Aid Project; and Anjali Mohan, J.D. ’14, will work in Myanmar with Justice Base.

HRP also awarded two Satter Human Rights fellowships: to James Tager, J.D. ’13,  who will work with the International Commission of Jurists in Thailand, and to Jason Gelbort, J.D. ’13, who will work with Public International Law & Policy Group in Myanmar.

NOTE: HRP recently re-opened the application process for one more Satter Fellowship.


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July 16, 2014

The Satter Human Rights Fellowship: A Call for Applications

Here’s some good news for recent grads committed to doing human rights work: we’re re-opening the application process for our Satter Fellowship!

The Satter Human Rights Fellowship is designed to support and promote human rights defense in response to mass atrocity or widespread and severe patterns of rights abuse.

Aminta Ossom, JD ’09, worked for Amnesty International, building the evidence base and capacity for crimes against humanity and war crimes in West Africa.

Aminta Ossom, JD ’09, worked for Amnesty International, building the evidence base and capacity for crimes against humanity and war crimes in West Africa.

Past fellows have worked with Amnesty International, building the evidence base and capacity for crimes against humanity and war crimes in West Africa; with Public International Law & Policy Group in Libya providing legal advice on issues related to constitution making, transitional justice and accountability, and access to justice; and with Fortify Rights International in Thailand on monitoring, advocacy, and training to protect and promote human rights in several different regions in Myanmar.

To apply for the Satter, you must have graduated from Harvard Law School within the last three years. Applications will be accepted until the fellowship is filled.

Learn more about the application process here.


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March 26, 2014

Tribute: Robert Henigson, JD ’55, Strong Supporter of Human Rights Work at HLS

(This tribute was written by Henry Steiner: founder of the Human Rights Program in 1984 and its director for 21 years; Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law Emeritus)


Robert Henigson, my cousin and lifelong close friend, died on January 28 this year. We were classmates at Harvard Law School. After our graduation in 1955, HLS continued to figure in both our lives. I spent my academic career here. In a different environment and career, Bob’s activities linked him as well to this school.

I refer to the reach of his extensive philanthropy to HLS and its Human Rights Program. Bob became a leading supporter of our work in this field. His gifts enabled HRP to open fruitful paths toward its growth, while also contributing to the breadth of the school’s faculty and curriculum.


Philanthropist Bob Henigson, JD ’55, a strong supporter of the Human Rights Program.

Bob practiced law at the Los Angeles firm of Lawler, Felix, and Hall, where he became a prominent lawyer and managing partner. He came to know people organizing a number of start-up companies, some related to scientific invention (Bob held two degrees from Caltech), that piqued his interest. His long-term investments in a few of them led to enduring relationships by Bob’s serving as their adviser, director or board chairman. In his last, seriously ailing years when travel was onerous, Bob’s joining meetings by phone had to do the job. Those years also brought to an end the hyperactive outdoor life that he and his wife Phyllis had relished – skiing, running, biking, hiking.

As his career in practice wound down, Bob’s attention to public-interest issues absorbed ever greater time, to the point where philanthropy trumped other ongoing activities during the post-retirement decades. His social, cultural and political concerns retained their earlier vitality. Bob found outlets or expression for them in a variety of philanthropic ventures. Some responded to liberal commitments to domestic civil liberties as well as to his liberal internationalism embracing the human rights movement. Other ventures assisted early education for the less well off or university centers; aided cultural institutions like orchestras and theatres; and strengthened organizations protecting against the spoiling of the natural world. At the same time, Bob worked closely with community leaders to advance the welfare of the local community on Orcas Island where he and Phyllis retired.

In my view, two innovations in human rights education stemming from Bob and Phyllis’s ongoing gifts to the school top the list of what those gifts made (or will make) possible. The first in time, the endowed Henigson Human Rights Fellowships that HRP administers, are available principally to graduating J.D. and LL.M. students who have demonstrated their commitment to human rights and their interest in building that field into their careers. Those students selected for fellowships actively participate for about a year in the work of a human rights NGO designated by them within a developing country. Stipends are in the neighborhood of $27,000. Recent comments (see below, directly following this tribute) from several of the 35 Henigson Fellows over the last 13 years describe ways how their experiences bore on their later, ongoing human rights work. These experiences were gained in such countries as Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Congo, Egypt, Hungary, India and Uganda. Continue Reading…

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March 21, 2014

Myanmar’s Policies of Persecution

Posted by Taylor Landis, JD '11, Satter Fellow and Researcher at Fortify Rights

Last month, the government of Myanmar made the shocking decision to evict Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from Rakhine State, cutting off tens of thousands of mostly-stateless Rohingya Muslims from their last refuge of lifesaving medical care.

The decision came on the heels of a new report by Fortify Rights, offering definitive proof that the Myanmar government has targeted the minority Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine State for decades. The 79-page report, Policies of Persecution: Ending Abusive State Policies Against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, is based on leaked government documents, witness testimony, and public records, revealing severe violations of human rights of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, including restrictions on the freedom of movement, marriage, childbirth, lifesaving medical care, and other aspects of daily life in northern Rakhine State.

A young Rohingya girl in the rain outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, April 2013.  Photo credit: @PRAD Steve Gumaer.

A young Rohingya girl in the rain outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, April 2013. Photo credit: @PRAD Steve Gumaer.

Denied citizenship in Myanmar, the 1.33 million Rohingya are confined to worsening conditions in Rakhine State. In our report, we make 20 recommendations to the government of Myanmar; chief among them is a call to abolish these abusive policies and end their enforcement.

The government’s response was telling: Within hours of publication, presidential spokesman Ye Htut condemned Fortify Rights and doubled-down on the government’s official line of racism by labeling the organization a “Bengali lobby group” – at once dismissing credible human rights concerns while invoking incendiary terminology (“Bengali”) employed to deny the Rohingya ethnicity and erroneously imply the Rohingya population are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Rendered stateless by Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law, an estimated 140,000 Rohingya have been forced into camps for internally displaced persons since 2012. when an eruption of violence between the Rohingya and ethnic-Rakhine Buddhists quickly gave way to orchestrated attacks on the Rohingya. Tens of thousands of others have fled the country by sea. Myanmar security forces have repeatedly failed to protect the Rohingya from attacks, and in some cases have participated in killings and other abuses against them. Continue Reading…

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January 31, 2014

TODAY: Informational Session on Post-Graduate Fellowships

Event Notice

“Post-Graduate Fellowships: An Informational Session”

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Wasserstein 3018

Please join us for pizza and an informational session about the post-graduate fellowships offered through the Human Rights Program. We’ll fill you in on the Henigson and Satter fellowships, both of which have deadlines in March.

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November 27, 2013

Call for Applications: The HRP Visiting Fellows Program

Posted by Mindy Roseman

The Human Rights Program invites applications from advocates and/or practitioners to be in residence for a period of one or two semesters, to take a step back and conduct a serious scholarly inquiry into the field of human rights. Our fellows come from all around the world: Africa, Europe, Latin America, and occasionally the US and beyond. They are usually scholars with a substantial background in human rights, or experienced activists.

For the academic year 2014-15, we are particularly – though not exclusively – interested in applications from scholars and practitioners interested in producing scholarship related to the UN treaty bodies: the ten committees and the treaties they monitor.

A residential appointment at the Human Rights Program offers considerable benefits to scholars and practitioners. We provide shared office space and access to a computer and wireless network. Visiting Fellows have full access to the extensive research and library resources of Harvard University. Fellows may audit classes and interact and engage with faculty as well as with other visiting scholars in fellows programs across the university.

Visiting Fellows are expected to participate in a number of activities, the most important of which is the bi-monthly visiting fellows colloquium. Attendance is required of Visiting Fellows. Chaired by the Human Rights Program’s Co- Director, Professor Gerald Neuman, the colloquia offer Visiting Fellows the opportunity to share their work among colleagues, Harvard Law faculty, law (LLM) students, and the occasional visitors.

The deadline for applications is February 13, 2014. Applications are available here.


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November 14, 2011

Finding the Right Summer Fit: An Interview with Brett Stark, JD ’12

Posted by Cara Solomon

Last year, the Human Rights Program funded more than 20 students to work at internships abroad.  You can meet several of them today at the International Summer Jobs Student Panel in Pound 213; they’ll be eating free burritos and dispensing their best advice there from 12:00- 1:00 pm.

Brett Stark, JD ’12, with a RefugePoint client in Kenya who was preparing for resettlement to the U.S.

In advance of the panel, we talked last week to Brett Stark, JD ’12, who worked at RefugePoint, an organization in Kenya that helps to meet the needs of people affected by war and conflict.  He described how he came to care about this work; what he learned from his first summer internship; and why his second internship proved so successful.

HRP: You have a long-standing interest in social justice advocacy. Why did you choose law school to express it?

I thought it would be the most effective way for me to be the best social justice advocate I could be—given our system, and the powers that lawyers have, and also given what I felt like my abilities were, as an oral advocate, as a person who enjoys connecting with people, and as someone who loves to write.  That stuff kind of blended together with law.

When I came here, I was trying to figure out: what’s my thing going to be?  I didn’t really know; I wanted to look around.  One of the things I did was the Immigration and Refugee Clinic, and that was really awesome.  Working with a client is an amazing experience.  With teaching, which I had done before law school, you’re connecting with students, but with clients, it’s a different kind of connection. Continue Reading…

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