As lawyers, we know accountability for human rights violations is crucial to protecting human life and dignity.

Human Rights in the Courts

The Human Rights Litigation Clinic is the engine driving our domestic human rights litigation. From fighting corporate support of torture and slavery in the Global South, to opposing technological surveillance used for religious persecution, to litigating for the rights of unhoused and detained persons, the Clinic’s cases each work to expand domestic understanding and protection of human rights. 

Clinic Details

The Tip of the Iceberg

Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh Briefing Paper

Our September 2023 briefing paper rightly identified the impending ethnic cleansing and genocide ramping up against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh. Tragically, we have seen it come to pass.

Produced in collaboration with University Network for Human Rights, Harvard Law School Advocates for Human Rights, Wesleyan University, and Yale’s Lowenstein Project as a result of two fact-finding trips in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh and four in Armenia between March 2022 and July 2023.

Read the Briefing Paper

Human Rights Litigation Clinic joined Mirmehdi Brothers before the IACHR

Learn more about the Mirmehdi Brothers and watch the recording of them, accompanied by students from our Human Rights Litigation Clinic, testifying in Washington D.C. before the IACHR on the brothers’ 41-month arbitrary detention and U.S. courts’ denial of remedy.

The U.S., Torture & Human Rights

Read our UN Human Rights Committee submission with co-counsel on behalf of Abu Zubaydah asking for effective remedy for his torture and arbitrary detention without charge over the course of the last 21 years. We call for his immediate release.

Read the UN Human Rights Committee Submission

Corporate Accountability

Holding corporations accountable for human rights violations is an increasingly important area of practice. We advance this work through litigation in our clinics, and collaborate with others to push the boundaries of what is possible in our symposia and convenings.

Explore Our Corporate Accountability Symposium

Ensuring Justice for Victims

The international community was rocked by the assassination of Berta Cácares, an Indigenous Lenca woman defending her ancestral river against a hydroelectric dam in Honduras.

Her case is one of many that The Promise Institute is helping guide and monitor to ensure justice and guard against impunity in Honduran courts.

Justice for Indigenous Land Defenders

ICC Forum

The Course

It’s rare that law students, particularly in the United States, have the opportunity to engage directly with the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor, but Professor Richard Steinberg’s innovative ICC Forum class, “Contemporary Issues Facing the International Criminal Court,” offers just that. Past classes have seen students tackling issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, cyberoperations and the Crime of Aggression.

Course Details

The Publication

Each semester, a question is posed to students and in turn to invited experts. The most recent, twenty-third issue asks with regard to the Israel/Hamas conflict that erupted on October 7, 2023, to what extent can the International Criminal Court deter crimes in the region, facilitate a reduction of violence, provide accountability for criminality in the conflict, or advance post-conflict reconciliation between Israelis and the Palestinian people?

Read the Latest at ICCForum.com

The Crime of Ecocide

Our focus on the environment and human rights has led to The Promise Institute helping develop ecocide law. This revolutionary new law has Greta Thunberg, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pope Francis and thousands more worldwide calling for its adoption.

Affiliated Faculty and Promise Institute Europe Executive Director Kate Mackintosh was a key author of the law, noting “It’s obvious—on a moral and intuitive level—that destroying our planet should be considered an international crime.”

Universal Jurisdiction

Following the 1999 extradition of General Pinochet to Spain to face torture charges, universal jurisdiction exploded on the international legal scene. In large part, this was a reflection of the fact that many victims had fled the country where the crimes took place and were now able to work with prosecutors in these “second” nations to secure accountability through international law.

With headline prosecutions of Syrian torturers and other accused human rights violators, universal jurisdiction has become something of a second theater for international criminal justice.

We’ve been happy to support Faculty Director Professor Máximo Langer’s project creating a Universal Jurisdiction Database which aims to provide details of universal jurisdiction prosecutions around the world. 

Explore Universal Jurisdiction Database

Read a Selection of Articles:

Nuremberg Prosecutor Ben Ferencz
Speaking at the Promise Institute

Tackling Emerging Issues

Environmental damage rising to the level of ecocide and increasing cyberwarfare both represent emerging issues in international criminal law. We gathered global experts to discuss each issue, with the goal of illuminating what existing international law offers while identifying areas which need further investigation or — in the case of ecocide law — further advocacy.

Artsakh Research Database

Our Guide to the Fall 2020 Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict was compiled as an impartial resource to assist anyone conducting research on this conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

We thank undergraduate students Kristine Aramyan and Martin Makaryan, and law student Ani Setian for their research assistance in preparing this database.

Visit the Research Database