Law Clinic Impact Event 2024


Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Role of Strategic Litigation in Affecting Social Change

This year, the Utrecht University Public International Law Honours Law Clinic has partnered with Airwars, a leading London-based civilian harm watchdog using open-source investigation methods to track civilian harm in air-driven conflicts around the world. The data Airwars provides is used in ways to contribute to accountability mechanisms at various levels, including the potentiality of feeding into strategic litigation efforts that have broader societal impact. The work the Honours Law Clinic students have done has centered around researching mechanisms in international legal frameworks for introducing digitally derived and open-source information into evidence at international and domestic tribunals in efforts related to accountability for potential crimes. Broadly defined, strategic litigation is:

the identification and pursuit of legal cases as part of a strategy to promote human rights. It focuses on an individual case in order to bring about broader social change. These cases set important legal precedents by publicly exposing injustices, raising awareness and bringing about changes in legislation, policy and practice. Strategic litigation can have a lasting impact on a large number of people at the national, regional or international level.

Effective strategic litigation is truly inter- and cross-disciplinary as it brings about enduring changes in politics, economics, or society, while also advancing existing legal principles. Providing public outreach materials alongside the case helps clarify its context, extending its progressive and precedent-setting effects beyond the courtroom. This outreach ensures that the impact of the legal action persists across different segments of society.

As a capstone of our Honours Law Clinic Program, we would like to host a one-day conference to showcase the work of our students, bring practitioners, students, experts, staff, scholars and other interested individuals together to discuss these themes and to have opportunities to network in a community-engaged impact event. The envisioned program will include two discussion panels (one in the morning which covers aspects about how these kinds of cases come to be litigated but from an interdisciplinary perspective; and the second in the afternoon offering a rich interdisciplinary reflection on these cases in the larger picture of contesting governance-related themes), a keynote speech, lunch/coffee/tea/refreshments for all participants. 

9:30 Arrival and coffee/tea
10:00-10:30Introduction to the day and the work of the PIL Honours Law Clinic (moderated discussion led by Jessica Dorsey)
10:30-11:00Keynote—Helen Duffy

Contesting Governance through Strategic Litigation: Stakeholders and Actors

Lara Talsma, Amsterdam Center for International Law (Chair)

Niké Wentholt, Dialogics of Justice

Helen Duffy, Leiden University

Frank Slijper, PAX

Sabrina Rewald, Leiden University 


Societal Perspectives and Implications of Strategic Litigation (broader interdisciplinarity)

Jessica Dorsey, Utrecht University (Chair)

Frederiek de Vlaming, University of Amsterdam

Molly Quell, Journalist

Emily Tripp, Airwars

15:30-17.00Networking with light refreshments 
Start date and time
End date and time
Janskerkhof 2-3, room 0.21
Entrance fee

Please send an email to to sign up! (Max. 50 participants)