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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 quarter, 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. Special Instructions: - - General Structure of Clinical Courses. The Law School's clinical courses are offered on a full-time basis for 12 credits. This allows students to immerse themselves in the professional experience without the need to balance clinical projects with other classes, exams and papers. Students enrolled in a clinic are not permitted to enroll in any other classes, seminars, directed research or other credit-yielding activities within the Law School or University during the quarter in which they are enrolled in a clinic. Nor are they allowed to serve as teaching assistants who are expected to attend a class on a regular basis. There is a limited exception for joint degree students who are required to take specific courses each quarter and who would be foreclosed from ever taking a clinic unless allowed to co-register. These exceptions are approved on a case-by-case basis. Clinic students are expected to work in their clinical office during most business hours Monday through Friday. Students are also expected to be available by e-mail or cell phone when elsewhere during those hours. Because students have no other courses (and hence no exams or papers), the clinical quarter begins the first day of classes and runs through the final day of the examination period. Students should not plan personal travel during the Monday to Friday work week without prior authorization from the clinical supervisor. The work during a typical week in a clinic is divided into three components. First, as they are for practicing attorneys, most of the hours of any week are taken up by work on client matters or case work (this time includes meetings with instructors to discuss the work). Again, as is the case for practicing lawyers, in some weeks these responsibilities demand time above and beyond "normal business hours." Second, students will spend approximately five-to-seven hours per week preparing for and participating in weekly discussions or other group work in their individual clinic (scheduling varies by clinic). Third, over the course of the quarter each clinic student (with the exception of those enrolled in the Criminal Prosecution Clinic) is required to prepare for and attend approximately five inter-clinic group sessions. Students will be awarded three separate grades for their clinical quarter, each reflecting four credits. The three grades are broken into the following categories: clinical practice; clinical methods; and clinical coursework. Grading is pursuant to the H/P system. Enrollment in a clinic is binding; once selected into a clinic to which he or she has applied, a student may not later drop the course except in limited and exceptional cases. Requests for withdrawal are processed through the formal petition and clinical faculty review process described in the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Students may not enroll in any clinic (full-time or advanced) which would result in them earning more than 27 clinical credits during their law school career. The rules described here do not apply to advanced clinics for students who are continuing with a clinic in which they were previously enrolled. For information about advanced clinics, please see the course descriptions for those courses. For more information about clinic enrollment and operations, please see the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Elements used in grading: Attendance, class participation, written assignments. For clinic: professionalism, ability to work with others successfully, creative thinking and commitment. Writing (W) credit is for students entering prior to Autumn 2012.

2014-2015 Autumn
09/22/2014 - 11/21/2014
2014-2015 Spring
03/30/2015 - 05/29/2015

Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

James L. Cavallaro
Stephan Sonnenberg
Juliet M. Brodie