The International Human Rights Clinic, first established as a component of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic (now known as the Constitutional Rights Clinic), has pursued cases and projects in U.S. domestic courts and international tribunals to promote international human rights norms. This clinic seeks to advance the integration of international human rights norms into American domestic legal practice, as well as to train a new generation of lawyers to use human rights law to advance justice in the United States and abroad. Both applied international human rights law and American civil rights law will be taught and utilized in clinic cases and projects.
Illustrative examples of international human rights projects include:
- litigation under the Alien Tort Claims Act, customary international human rights law, statutory civil rights and pendent tort claims, challenging inhumane conditions of confinement of aliens seeking asylum or refugee status at detention facilities;
- a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights challenging New Jersey’s disenfranchisement of persons on probation and parole as violations of universal human rights norms;
- an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court determining whether the Alien Tort Claims Act permits private individuals to bring suit against foreign citizens for crimes committed in other countries in violation of the law of nations;
- amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court addressing liability for corporations under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victim Protection Act for international human rights violations committed overseas; and
- reports prepared for the UN Human Rights Committee evaluating enforcement by the United States of ratified human rights treaties.
Students enrolled in this clinic will also work on amicus briefs in cases pending in both New Jersey and throughout the United States to inform courts about international human rights issues related to cases pending before those courts, prepare for bi-annual meetings with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the U.S. State Department on the U.S.’s implementation process of human rights treaties, and work on impact litigation and other advocacy work related to human trafficking, which has been called “modern slavery” by the U.S. government, as well as by other nations.
Students in this clinic will also be expected to also handle some domestic civil rights cases and will share a seminar with the Constitutional Rights Clinic. Students will be actively involved in all aspects of the clinic’s work including deciding which cases to take, interviewing clients, developing the facts, crafting legal theories, drafting legal briefs, and preparing for oral arguments.
- Penny Venetis, Director