International seminar

23 novembre 2021
International seminar
Aula 2, ore 11

Over the past three to four decades, opportunities to study human rights have grown exponentially. Particularly in Europe, although in the Americas, Africa and to a lesser extent, Asia, universities have developed undergraduate courses and graduate degrees in human rights.
Virtually without exception, these programs focus primarily or exclusively on the study of human rights—philosophical grounding, legal and governance theory, doctrine and so on. No doubt, these programs are valuable and have served to expand contemporary understanding of human rights. One consequence of the boom of courses of study in human rights has been the formation of a generation of young professionals who understand basic philosophical principles undergirding human rights, as well as the jurisprudential and doctrinal contours of the law of human rights. That said, these programs, virtually without exception, do not include supervised engagement in human rights practice.
At the same time, universities have developed ‘clinics’, primarily in law schools, which do provide students the opportunity to engage in supervised practice of human rights. At universities in the United States, first, and then in Europe and Latin America, these clinics have been embedded in law schools. It must be noted that these clinics have largely followed the US model, in which clinical work in human rights is restricted to law students and which focus on legal aspects of human rights work.
In the field of human rights, however, most practitioners do not engage in rights defense and promotion through the use of fundamentally legal means. Instead, they rely on factfinding and documentation, advocacy through campaigns in traditional and social media, grass roots organization, and other non-legal methods. Human rights practitioners—whether trained in law and whether they have passed through a legal human rights clinic or not—find that they must learn skills essential to their work as human rights advocates on the job. They realize that there is no place within universities as currently structured to study, critically and comprehensively, the practice of human rights, while engaging in supervised, reflective human rights work. The lone space to think critically about human rights while engaging in supervised rights defense is the law school human rights clinic, whose access is limited to lawyers and whose focus is legal—despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of human rights work is non-legal.


Coordina il prof. Roberto Miccù


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