LAW 589

Successful Strategies for Human Rights Advocacy

Public Interest Law

Human rights organizations and movements spend a significant amount of time and resources to develop strong advocacy strategies to advance the protection of human rights. Advocacy can be made (or broken) by the way a problem analysis is conducted, tactics are chosen and developed, or advocacy targets are selected. Above all, advocacy work relies on the ability to tell a powerful story that can trigger empathy, urgency, and inspire tangible change.
This multidisciplinary course will bring students behind the scenes of how NGOs design and develop advocacy strategies and public campaigns for the protection of human rights. With a mix of seminars, guest lecturers, case study analysis and project work, the course will be 9 weeks long and include the opportunity for students to collaborate with world-leading human rights organizations.
Classes will take place once a week as a three-hour seminar.
• During the seminars, students will be introduced key principles, methodologies and discuss case studies focusing on the intersection between human rights, the law and advocacy. Students will discuss key dilemmas faced by practitioners in their day-to-day work: how can we meaningfully engage the public without undermining key human rights law principles? When can “naming & shaming” tactics work with human rights abusers? When should we consider bringing one of our targets to court? Which United Nations instrument can best help my advocacy work?
• Seminars will also often be joined by prominent human rights advocates as guest speakers - giving students the opportunity to discuss past campaigns and advocacy initiatives with those directly involved in their planning and creation.
Students will also be divided into groups, each working alongside a leading global human rights organizations to support the development of a real-life advocacy strategy. Outside of classes law students will be expected to carry out in-depth research on the issue at hand and provide advice on advocacy targets and influencing opportunities – in the form of individual papers and a group presentation. NGO partnerships that are being explored at the moment include global leaders in the field of human rights such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
By the end of the semester students will gain an understanding of the different steps, methodologies, and tactics available to develop advocacy strategies to protect human rights.

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