Notre Dame Law to launch Global Human Rights Clinic in 2024

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The golden dome at the University of Notre Dame (IL file photo)

Looking to continue its work in the human rights realm, Notre Dame Law School has announced that it will launch a Global Human Rights Clinic in 2024.

According to a Notre Dame Law news release, the new clinic will be launched in the spring of 2024 and serve as the experiential learning unit of the law school’s LL.M. Program in Human Rights Law.

The clinic will be open to J.D. and human rights LL.M. students. J.S.D. students will be welcomed as doctoral fellows collaborating on specific clinic projects, while a few select undergraduates will contribute through limited research-focused internships at the clinic.

“The creation of this new Global Human Rights Clinic is a testament to our unwavering commitment to make a lasting impact,” Dean G. Marcus Cole said in a statement. “The clinic will actively pursue justice under international law, hold perpetrators accountable, while providing crucial support to those striving for justice in their countries. As the oldest Catholic law school in the United States, this aligns seamlessly with our mission to train advocates devoted to defending and advancing human rights globally, to champion justice worldwide, and to be a force for good.”

The clinic will represent cases at institutions such as the International Court of Justice, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, International Criminal Court and the U.N. Human Rights Treaty Bodies. It will also undertake research and advocacy projects in collaboration with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In addition, the clinic will address cases challenging authoritarianism in the Global South, advocating for individuals who may not typically be represented by other human rights clinics.

According to the law school, that mission builds upon the work of Diane Desierto, the founding faculty director of the clinic.

Desierto recently joined the law school’s delegation to South Africa that honored the African roots of Notre Dame’s Human Rights Program.

“Growing 15 to 20 international human rights lawyers from all over the world itself creates a multiplier effect as they serve innumerable individuals and groups for the rest of their lives,” Desierto said in a statement. “We equip them to make a lifelong difference in their respective countries. That is our true mandate and mission.”

Afghanistan human rights law researcher Roqia Samim will serve as the clinic’s global human rights legal fellow, focusing on human rights education and collaborating on the pipeline of clinic research projects at the United Nations.

The clinic will also hire legal fellows for case representation.

Chilean lawyer Josemaría Rodríguez will be the first two-year legal fellow for the clinic. A second two-year legal fellow is slated to join the team before the end of the year.

The clinic will offer its courses starting in the spring of 2024, with two-credit courses in the spring semesters and four-credit courses in the fall semesters. It will be open to nine J.D and LL.M. students, while J.S.D. students will be welcomed to collaborate in the clinic for specific projects as doctoral fellows, not for academic credit.

In the fall of 2024, the clinic will formally launch its inaugural ND Law Global Human Rights Conference.

The clinic will also host a separate Notre Dame Law School Global Human Rights Lecture Series, which will regularly feature international law and human rights judges, experts, academics, diplomats and practitioners.

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