The Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, launched in 2011, addresses a range of situations of rights abuse and violent conflict around the world. By providing direct representation to victims and by working with communities that have suffered or face potential abuse, the Clinic seeks both to train advocates and advance the cause of human rights and global justice. The Clinic’s supervisors, Professor James (Jim) Cavallaro and Clinical Lecturer Stephan Sonnenberg have worked on torture, summary executions, indigenous rights, civil conflict and transitional justice in more than twenty countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, including Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Panama, the United States, France, Russia, Nigeria, South Africa, China and Bangladesh. Students in the Clinic work on projects in a similar, though more limited, range of countries.
The Clinic engages students in sophisticated and multi-disciplinary advocacy to advance the basic human rights and dignity of victimized individuals and communities globally. Students divide their time between an intensive clinical seminar and ongoing clinical advocacy projects. They are thus exposed to a range of tools and strategies to promote respect for rights and dignity, including factual documentation, elaboration and distribution of reports describing rights abuse, traditional litigation before national and international institutions, community empowerment strategies, and conflict transformation techniques.
The Clinical Experience: Unparalled Preparation for Advocates
Students in the clinic divide their time between an intensive clinical seminar and clinical advocacy projects. During the seminar, students read and discuss texts that critically evaluate the human rights movement and advocacy efforts. In addition, participants in the seminar develop a range of skills and strategies to promote respect for rights and dignity. These include factual documentation, elaboration and distribution of reports describing rights abuse, traditional litigation before national and international institutions, community empowerment strategies, advocacy film-making, and conflict transformation techniques.
Adelina Acuña, SLS ’12:
Each of us left with renewed resolve to make social justice at home and abroad a core focus of our professional lives.
The best preparation for accurate, ethical and sensitive human rights fieldwork is fieldwork itself. Students in the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic complete a three-day intensive simulation of human-rights fact-finding and advocacy before they begin their work on live projects in the field.
Atenas Burrola, SLS ’14:
The simulation prepared us to think through the very same challenges and dilemmas we faced in fieldwork.
The Clinic’s unique full-time model allows students to gain substantive field experience. Because full-time students have no other classes, they are able to travel to sites of rights abuse and potential conflict. In the first two years of the Clinic, faculty and students have researched and worked on human rights issues in the United States, Brazil, Panama, Pakistan, Bolivia, Tanzania, and Cambodia, among others.
Katherine Scherschel, SLS ’14:
The opportunity to travel to Panama and speak with prisoners suffering rights abuses really changed our engagement in the project. It made the difference between reading about human rights and being empowered to promote change.
Students plan and carry out advocacy projects of national and international scope. Clinical students have crafted advocacy messages, drafted op-eds, moot and sometimes give interviews.
Omar Shakir, SLS ’13:
Our work in the clinic resulted in real opportunities for hard-hitting advocacy.