International Public Interest Lawyering Colloquium
Over the past two decades, the establishment of international criminal courts and the expansion of regional human rights tribunals have significantly improved the enforceability of international human rights law in many regions of the world. Within a similar timeframe, building the rule of law, especially in transitional societies, has found an increasingly important place on the development agenda of international organizations, governmental development agencies and private foundations. One issue that remains unclear is the impact of human rights enforceability on the reform of domestic justice systems. This colloquium will examine the relationship between international human rights and domestic rule of law in transitional societies from the perspective of public interest attorneys who are seeking to achieve justice for clients who are low-income and marginalized. During the first half of the course, students will read and discuss articles that provide an overall framework for understanding the field of international human rights and the field of rule of law, including the most common critiques of both fields as they are currently practiced. In the latter half of the course, students will hear perspectives from leading public interest attorneys about how they are deploying human rights mechanisms and engaging with the process of legal reform in their respective countries. There will be a focus on gender equality and protecting the human rights of women as a case study. The attorneys will offer on-the-ground observations of both the complex relationship between human rights and rule of law, and the potential and limitations of both approaches. Students will be required to participate in a symposium of leading international practitioners that addresses the same topic, and to synthesize lessons learned from the symposium as their final writing assignment.