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Stanford Human Rights Center Fellowship

Purpose of the Fellowship

The Stanford Human Rights Center (‘the Center’) offers two (2) Human Rights Fellowships for graduating Stanford Law School students or recent graduates who have demonstrated a strong commitment to international human rights and have an interest in field work in a developing country or experience in supranational human rights bodies whose work focuses on the developing world.  The fellowships will provide recent graduates with experience essential to developing a career in human rights work. The fellowships are not intended to fund research at academic or similar institutions, but instead to promote engaged practice with a human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) in a developing country or with a supranational human rights body, wherever located, whose work focuses in significant degree on the developing world.


Current 3Ls expecting to receive a J.D. degree by June 2014 are eligible to apply, as well as J.D. graduates since June 2012 who are either currently clerking for a judge or engaged in full-time public interest work, or were active in human rights work while at SLS.  Consideration on an exceptional basis may also be given to recent graduates from before 2012 who can make a compelling case.  Graduating LL.M. and J.S.M. students who expect to receive the LL.M. degree or the J.S.M. degree in June 2014 are also eligible to apply.

Interviews may be required for finalists. The Committee awarding the fellowships is not required to award two fellowships or any fellowship in the absence of sufficiently qualified applicants.


The application shall consist of:

  • Curriculum vitae, including information about classes, work, and extracurricular activities related to human rights or public interest;
  • A personal statement about the applicant’s relevant human rights experience.  The statement should be no more than 500 words and should discuss the ways in which the fellowship would contribute to the applicant’s career path;
  • A project proposal that includes:
    • a description of the sponsoring organization and its work in the local and international context;
    • a detailed discussion of the student’s proposed project (see below for more information);
    • and an itemized budget;
  • A letter of support from the sponsoring organization(s) detailing its mission, purpose, and particular interest in the work of the applicant;
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a member of the SLS faculty; the letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the email addresses below;
  • A copy of the applicant’s SLS transcript.


Application Deadline

Applications must be submitted by 12:00 PST on Friday, November 22, 2013.   Applications must be sent by electronic mail to:,, and  Reference letters should be sent directly to these email addresses, or to Ms. Nicole Riley, Neukom Building, 555 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, CA 94305.

Requirements for Sponsoring Organization

Strong preference will be given to applicants sponsored by an organization, or organizations related through a single project, in the developing world, or to applicants sponsored by a supranational human rights body whose work is carried out in the developing world.  Application placements with organizations in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United States, Western Europe and other similar countries are discouraged. For LL.M. and J.S.M. applicants, preference will be given to projects outside the region or sub-region of the candidate’s home country.

The organization must be either an established supranational human rights body or must be an NGO engaged in human rights activism, which includes human rights education, monitoring, reporting, litigation, grassroots mobilization, or advocacy. NGOs that qualify might be involved in human rights work in general or in specific areas such as women’s rights, children’s rights, labor rights, or refugees.  The fellowship is not intended to support research within an NGO that is removed from human rights activism.  Qualifying NGOs may also include organizations pursuing a rights-based approach to advocacy in interdisciplinary directions, such as economic development, humanitarian relief, health or environmental justice.  

The Center will consider proposals that link NGOs in the developing world with NGOs in developed countries, as long as the focus of the work and the bulk of the time will be spent in the developing country. The Center may, in special circumstances, accept a proposal for work within a governmental or intergovernmental human rights organization.

Students are encouraged to think creatively about the organizations to which they would like to apply and to discuss potential sponsoring organizations with the Center’s Director, as well as the staff of the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic early in the planning process.  The Center will make the final determination as to the eligibility of the proposed organization.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the Center's Deputy Director throughout the application process to ensure that their proposed organization meets eligibility criteria.

The Center will strive to support one highly qualified applicant sponsored by an NGO and one highly qualified applicant sponsored by a supranational human rights body.

Fellowship Requirements

Each fellow will be responsible for the organization of major event or conference at Stanford, which s/he will develop and implement jointly with the faculty and staff of the Center.  The fellow will be required to return at least once (at the Center’s expense) during the year of the fellowship for the event.  Applicants are not required but may wish to include a basic plan for this event in their research proposal.

Each fellow will also be responsible for developing at least one clinical project for the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic in the region or area in which s/he is working.  To the extent possible, within the framework and limitations of the Clinic, the project may be implemented jointly with the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.

During the course of the fellowship year, fellows will be expected to submit quarterly written reports to the Center, providing updates about the project’s progress.  Fellows are expected to be in contact with the Center for support and advice throughout the year.

Project Proposal

Applicants should contact potential organizations - NGOs or supranational bodies - early in order to assess project feasibility. Project proposals should be as detailed as possible and include consideration of logistics and budget.  Proof of the NGO’s or the supranational human rights organization's interest and willingness to work closely with the applicant and devote institutional resources to the project, including via direct supervision of the fellow, is a crucial factor in a project’s success.  Detailed confirmation of the organization's sponsorship is therefore a major factor in the application selection process. 

Fellowship Selection Process

The Stanford Human Rights Center will oversee the administration of the fellowships.  The Director of the Center will advise students preparing applications on the substance of their proposal and whether particular sponsoring organizations qualify.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the Director prior to submitting their application. The selection process will take into account the applicant’s experience and commitment to human rights work, as well as the merit and feasibility of the proposed project.

Funding Amounts and Restrictions

Fellowship awards will be made without regard to financial need. The amount of the fellowship will be at least $25,000. The Center will consider additional cost of living increases for selected fellows on a case-by-case basis.  Round-trip airfare costs to allow the fellow to return in connection with the event s/he organizes will be paid by the Center.

Fellows may supplement the fellowship from other grants and awards up to a limit of $10,000 or more in cases of exceptional and justified need. The Center may reduce the amount of its grant to correspond to other grants. Fellows are required to keep the Center informed of other funding.