Clinical Legal Education in International Human Rights

Note: The clinic is only available to students enrolled in the Faculty of Law.

In 2002, the IHRP opened the first International Human Rights Clinic in Canada. Since its foundation, the IHRP has engaged in international human rights advocacy on diverse issues.  Advocacy has ranged from direct client representation to policy work, though the current emphasis is on lending legal expertise to civil society engaged in advocacy in areas that intersect with our Faculty’s expertise and draw upon our location within Canada.  The freedom to pursue a diversity of projects has allowed the IHRP to respond quickly to changes in the Canadian and international landscape and provided students with a well-rounded view of the practice of international human rights law. 

The clinic provides experiential learning opportunities for students and exposes themto the practice of international human rights law. It focuses on professionalism and the tools of international human rights advocacy, including research and fact-finding, litigation in domestic and international forums, grass-roots mobilization, and media engagement. The clinic encourages critical reflection on international human rights lawyering, including exploration of legal, procedural, strategic, ethical and theoretical issues. Wherever possible, the course provides students with the opportunity to interact with international human rights advocates.

There are two components to the clinic: clinical projects and the seminar. Through clinical projects, students have the opportunity to participate in advocacy under the supervision of qualified lawyers. Project work may include formulating theories and advocacy strategies, conducting legal research, legal drafting, fact-finding field work, creation of public legal education materials, etc.

The seminar meets once a week for 3 hours and is structured around skill-building sessions, case-studies, thematic analysis, and weekly project-rounds (i.e. where students discuss the progress made and obstacles encountered in their clinical projects.) Students should come prepared to debate and discuss current human rights issues.

For more information, visit the International Human Rights Program website.