International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic: Clinical Methods
In the past half-century, human rights advocates have transformed a marginal utopian ideal into a central element of global discourse, if not practice. This course examines the actors and organizations behind this remarkable development as well as the vast challenges faced by advocates in the recent past and today. Increasingly, human rights as a framework has become essential to a broad range of situations of tension and conflict. This course interrogates the nature of engagement by human rights practitioners, as well as approaches adopted by those focused on the management of violent conflict. What are the origins of the human rights movement and where is it headed? What does it mean to be a human rights activist? What are the main challenges and dilemmas facing those engaged in rights promotion and defense? How is conflict resolution consistent with human rights advocacy? When and where are these approaches in tension? The course also develops advocacy skills through in-class sessions, role play exercises and engagement in, and critical assessment of clinical projects in human rights. Class sessions introduce students to human rights advocacy and conflict management techniques through discussion of the readings and related issues, as well as through student presentations critiquing their participation in supervised clinical projects . The readings and seminar sessions expose students to some of the practical manifestations of the main debates and dilemmas within the human rights and conflict resolution movement(s). These include several of the ethical and strategic issues that arise in the course of doing fact-finding and advocacy and balancing the often differing agendas of western international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) and their counterparts in the (frequently non-western) developing world. The readings also consider tensions within the field of conflict resolution, as well as between conflict resolution and human rights. Several class sessions will focus on fact-finding and advocacy skills. One or more of these sessions will be full-day, role play exercises. In these full-day sessions, students will engage in human rights research, documentation, negotiation and dispute management exercises, and advocacy role-playing. In some sessions, part of the class will be devoted to presentations by students and clinical 'rounds'. These presentations will consider one or more issues that arise in the course of students' own engagement in advocacy projects through the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic. During the course of the semester, students will also be required to draft several brief fact-finding/advocacy pieces (these will be explained in class), and write short, critical reflection papers (2-4 pages, double-spaced, or 500-1,000 words, thought pieces) on the readings. Prerequisite-registration and admission to the International Conflict Resolution Seminar.