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 VOL. 23, NO. 13JANUARY 30, 1998 


Law Begins New Human Rights Effort


 BY JOHN KELLY

Louis Henkin with a student. Photo by Gabe Cooney.
Continuing a 20-year record of pioneering and leadership in international human rights, Columbia Law School has launched a new program in legal education for human rights.

  The Law School has established a major new Human Rights Program that will not only train future generations of human rights scholars and activists but also add to the world’s existing human rights scholarship.

  The Human Rights Program, which will work with the School of International and Public Affairs’ Center for the Study of Human Rights, will also expand upon the Law School’s pioneering summer internship program, and will be the focal point of international and interdisciplinary human rights conferences.

  “This is a defining moment for the human rights movement,” said Dean David Leebron, a human rights teacher himself.

  “Columbia Law School was early in recognizing human rights as a critical ideology of our time, and while other schools have now followed our lead, the teaching and study of human rights in the United States (and in many parts of the world) continue to suffer from the lack of teachers and the paucity of scholarship,” he said.

  “This new program will ensure the training of future generations of Louis Henkins and Jack Greenbergs, human rights giants of our era.”

  Under the direction of human rights legend Louis Henkin, University Professor Emeritus at Columbia, the Human Rights Program will establish new initiatives and expand and coordinate Columbia’s existing human rights education and scholarship.

  Building on the Law School’s present array of courses and seminars, as well as its internship program in international human rights and U.S. and comparative constitutional rights, the program will add a large clinical dimension and a network of cooperative relations with the “activist” actors in the field.

  This training is critical to the project’s success, according to Henkin, who has tutored generations of Columbia-trained human rights attorneys.

  “A major handicap and disappointment in the pursuit of human rights has been the backward state of human rights education, especially legal human rights education,” says Henkin. “Like the human rights movement generally, human rights education has been noble but not ‘professional.’ With the exception of Columbia, major law schools were slow to embark on teaching human rights. Those finally challenged to attempt it have faltered from a dearth of teachers and of strong scholarship. Today, after a half century of a major political, legal and intellectual movement, human rights proponents are few and hardly visible, and the next generation is not prominent on the horizon.”

  For that reason, the Human Rights Program will include fellowships for graduate students and young faculty, to help train the next generation of teachers, leaders and activists.

  It will bring to Columbia Law School members of the “activist” world as visiting fellows and scholars. It also will establish post-graduate fellowships for graduates of the Law School to work with intergovernmental bodies and institutions, and with non-governmental human rights and civil rights organizations.

  It also will establish post-graduate fellowships for graduates of the Law School to work with intergovernmental bodies and institutions, and with non-governmental human rights and civil rights organizations. One of the first ventures for the Human Rights Program is the creation of a World Wide Web site that will provide immediate access to human rights agencies across the world, as well as to important historical human rights documents from the Columbia Law Library’s vast holdings.

  The site is being funded through a gift from the Reed Foundation and will, in the words of Leebron, be an “entryway for the world to tap into the ground-breaking human rights scholarship and work being conducted here at Columbia and beyond.”






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