Human Rights Clinic | Law

Human Rights Clinic

The Human Rights Clinic exposes students to the practice of law through work on cutting-edge human rights cases and projects that focus on advancing the rights of vulnerable persons in Australia and internationally, with a particular focus on migrant workers and refugees. Bridging theory and practice, students work in a cross-cultural context and engage directly with law, clients and rights violations that extend beyond Australia’s borders.

The Clinic is open to students in the final stages of their law degree. It provides an opportunity for students to contribute to effecting positive systemic change on behalf of marginalised individuals in Australia and globally, while developing human rights lawyering skills under close faculty supervision.  The weekly clinic seminar addresses both the tools and critiques of human rights advocacy, requiring students to critically reflect on their clinical work and on the role of law and lawyers in advancing human rights.

Human Rights Clinic casework and projects typically develop or test new aspects of law, policy or practice. For example previous Clinic students have:

•    developed the first international guide on the rights of migrant workers which specifically focuses on the obligations of countries of origin

•    brought a case against Australia before the UN Human Rights Committee, drafting all submissions on behalf of an Indonesian fisherman convicted of people smuggling — the first case in the world to test the lawfulness of mandatory sentencing laws under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

•    drafted comprehensive briefs on Australia’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to support the latest civil society shadow report to the UN Convention committee

•    advised leading Asian NGOs and governments on various aspects of the rights of migrant workers under international law

•    led a national coalition devising a new model for guardianship of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in Australia

•    drafted an Expert Note on migrants’ human rights for a UN human rights body

•    contributed legal frameworks and analysis for the first Global Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security

•    drafted a manual for Indonesian civil society organisations on access to the Indonesian migrant worker insurance scheme

•    made submissions to Australian senate inquiries and to UN bodies regarding the application of international human rights law to asylum seeker issues

•    established and developed content for a wiki for solicitors and barristers Australia-wide who were defending individuals accused of people smuggling

The UNSW Human Rights Clinic is the first of its kind in any Australian law school.

How do I apply?

To apply, please refer to the course pre-requisite outlined on the UNSW Handbook for LAWS3309/JURD7409 and LAWS3060/JURD7360 and please apply via the application form below:

For more information about this clinic, please contact the course convenor, Bassina Farbenblum.