International Human Rights Clinic

3 Credits*/Qtr (Winter/Spring)

This course grants students the opportunity for hands-on experience in various types of projects applying international human rights law, under close faculty supervision and in partnership with international, national and local human rights organizations.

The Clinic will focus on mastering skills and gaining knowledge related to the emerging field of business and human rights. We will consider creative strategies for using corporate accountability mechanisms and “traditional” international human rights mechanisms to remedy human rights violations. Students will develop critical legal skills, such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, media advocacy, legal research and brief drafting. They will gain experience working as advocates for various stakeholders. The seminar component will cover relevant theory, international law, and case law related to our clinic’s projects.

The course consists of a classroom component (Wednesdays, 10:30 am—12:20 pm), 1 hour of team meetings per week. Students are expected to devote at least nine hours in out-of-class time per week to the Clinic, including at least one weekly team meeting. Independent Study (1 credit) may also be available.

Winter 2016 Projects

Preventing human labor trafficking through policies and legislation (3 students)

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) requested the International Human Rights Clinic to explore opportunities for procurement legislative and policies reform in Washington State. Students are working in a research project seeking recommendations to eliminating labor trafficking from global supply chain for U.S products and services. This project will take place over a number of semesters.

Students work on the international and national legal framework for trafficking in person, with a focus in labor, and conducting comparative research about municipal, state and federal legislation addressing clean supply chain. They are engaging with different stakeholders to address various perspectives, including survivors, businesses, government officials and NGO’s. Students will also analyze voluntary market driven commitments and internal policies taken by companies to address clean supply chains (rights sensitive product lines and branding, unilateral codes of conduct, social accountability auditing and certification).

Advising companies on implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights (3 students)

Students are working with BSR staff members, a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies advising them to integrating sustainability into strategy and operations. Students are preparing a research memo to be presented before the Human Rights Working Group (sub-entity of BSR, consisting of 25 companies) in an upcoming meeting on: a) corporate accountability mechanisms, and b) selected leading cases from US and international bodies. The Human Rights Working Group wants to find operational guidance to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and would like to explore the status of external legal mechanisms, including national law and the debate over various international instruments and entities.

The right to free, prior and informed consent for indigenous people in Honduras. Advocating before the Netherlands and one financing institution (3 students)

The Defender Law Center (EDLC) is a non-profit organization that works to protect the human rights of individuals and communities in developing countries who are fighting against harm to their environment. Students are working with EDLC staff members on supporting Copinh (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras) on their advocacy efforts to address the human rights risks and impacts of the Agua Zarca dam project on the indigenous people Lenca’s land, living in Río Blanco, between the departments of Intibucá and Santa Barbara in western Honduras.

Specifically, EDLC requested the Clinic to draft a complaint before non-judicial grievances mechanisms of the Dutch Development Bank –FMO. The project in execution by Desarrollos Energeticos, SA (DESA), threatens to destroy peasants' community farmland and restrict access to the river Gualcarque, for some the only available source of drinking water, as well as a resource for swimming, washing and fishing with important cultural and spiritual value.

The indigenous population has not been properly informed or consulted, despite Honduras' ratification of ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous Rights, which obliges the government to respect the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the indigenous population to projects affecting them. Environmental human rights defenders have been harassed, attacked and killed.

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