Conflict, Human Rights and Criminal Justice Clinical Programme
In the dynamic and rapidly growing field of international law and human rights, international courts and human rights bodies are increasingly benefiting from legal services provided by universities, think tanks and non-governmental organizations. Utrecht University is uniquely positioned, both in terms of its close proximity to The Hague and its close relationship with international courts and human rights bodies, to provide this quality legal assistance.
The Clinical Programme on Conflict, Human Rights and International Justice provides pro bono legal services to Hague-based international judicial institutions, as well as to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in order to prepare students for a future career in international law by providing them with the necessary skills training and development to succeed.
The Clinical Programme is supported by both the Willem Pompe Institute and SIM. The Clinical Programme is supported by the Utrecht University’s Willem Pompe Institute, a leading centre for criminal law and criminology, and the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (SIM), a highly-regarded human rights research institute. Both institutes have long-standing reputations in the fields of criminal justice, international law and human rights.
Gaining key skills
Across the course of seven months, students provide pro bono legal services on a variety of assignments. In this way, they not only learn on the job, but they also gain essential skills and knowledge in key areas, such as:
- Conducting legal research analysis
- Preparing legal memoranda
- Drafting reports
- Practising litigation strategy and oral advocacy
- Following new legal developments
- Tackling crucial ethical issues
- Gaining an in-depth understanding of an important international institution
The challenging nature of the Clinical Programme, however, means that students will learn more than just legal skills. The learning environment is intense; it makes significant demands in terms of commitment, team-work, creativity, reflection and time. No fewer than 20 hours per week are required for the 20 week course. Students are obliged to have daily contact amongst their clinical group and with their supervisors.
Although challenging, the Programme also provides students with a support system for evaluating their learning and practical experiences.
· At the beginning of the Clinical Programme, students are introduced to the particular field of law and the institution where they will be working with a series of introductory sessions entailing extensive reading and critical debate with fellow students and academic supervisors
· They also receive instruction in the law and procedure of the judicial institution for which they will carry out work
Students work under the supervision of Dr. Brianne McGonigle Leyh (Programme Coordinator), Dr. Leo Zwaak and Diana Contreras.
Skills training Throughout the Clinical Programme, a number of practitioners from Hague-based international courts and tribunals will meet with students each month to instruct them on practical skills pertaining to effective legal research, memorandum drafting, strategy, oral advocacy and legal ethics.
Entrance requirements and application details
The Clinical Programme runs from mid-November to mid-April (the selection process takes place in the last week of October and the first week of November). Only a small number of LLM students is selected to participate each year. The selection process takes place by means of a written assignment and an interview. A working knowledge of Spanish is required to be selected for the group working with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Prior knowledge of international criminal law is required to be selected for the group working on international criminal justice.
Building on experience
Students enrolled in the Clinical Programme, will be strongly encouraged to apply for summer/autumn internships at Hague-based international criminal courts and tribunals or at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It is envisioned that the Clinical Programme will provide them with the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical experience to be successful.
For participating in the Clinical Programme, students will be granted 15 ECTS. They will be evaluated by their supervisors on the basis of their performance in research and drafting during the 20 weeks of their participation in the Programme.