Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin, the institute draws on the law school’s deep human rights tradition to support and influence human rights practice in the United States and throughout the world. The institute and the Human Rights Clinic have become increasingly integrated over the years, enabling us to multiply our impact on the field and engage students more fully in our work.
Over the years, HRI has deepened its expertise along three primary axes: (i) Human Rights in the United States, (ii) Counterterrorism and Human Rights and (iii) Human Rights and the Global Economy. Our U.S.-oriented work builds upon Louis Henkin’s commitment that human rights must be honored at home, not simply abroad. Our counterterrorism work seeks to ensure that basic rule of law protections are honored in the search for domestic and global security. And our global economic work seeks to ensure that the benefits of natural resources are justly shared by all. We have developed distinct approaches to work in each area, building bridges between scholarship and activism, developing capacity within the legal community, engaging governments, and modeling new strategies for progress. Our tools vary according to circumstances, and include expert meetings, clinical projects, scholarship, teaching, expert reports, and collaborations with a wide range of individuals and advocacy groups.
The Institute works closely with the Graduate Legal Studies Program to select Human Rights Fellows for the LL.M. program, and with the Center for Public Interest Law to select fellows to work in human rights after graduation. The institute works closely with the University-wide Institute for the Study of Human Rights. For a listing of curriculum offerings in the area of Human Rights, please see our curriculum page.
The Human Rights Institute focuses on four key areas: Fostering international human rights norms and strategies at home in the United States; ensuring human rights compliance in counterterrorism efforts; strengthening the Inter-American system of Human Rights; and promoting economic justice around the world.