Students Staff

About the Human Rights Centre Clinic

The Human Rights Centre Clinic is part of one of the oldest academic human rights centres in the world and continues to conduct key research to protect human rights globally.

Founded in 2009, the Human Rights Centre Clinic runs projects that enable students to apply their human rights knowledge to practical situations and further develop their professional skills, working in partnership with civil society organisations, international organisations, governments and national human rights institutions.

There are two pathways open to students – the Human Rights Clinic Module (HU902), which combines projects with partners and classroom study, and stand-alone projects, which are opportunities which may be open to undergraduate or postgraduate human rights students, and are not linked to the Human Rights Centre Clinic Module.

Human Rights Clinic Module (HU902) Projects

The Human Rights Centre Clinic Module (HU902) is an optional module available to postgraduate students on the human rights programmes (LLM/MA), which combines both hands-on practical experience in human rights and classroom study. Students work in teams, with the guidance of a supervisor, to investigate and document human rights violations and/or strengthen human rights initiatives. This is achieved in collaboration with the many partners with which the Clinic works, including governments, NGOs and international organisations.

Apply to the Clinic Module

  • Who is eligible to participate as a student in the Clinic?

    The Clinic is an optional module for Postgraduate students on the Human Rights programme (LLM/MA). In order to take part in the course, you must be enrolled on the Human Rights Centre Clinic module (Module Code: HU902).

    • How to apply?

      Who is eligible to participate as a student in the Clinic?

      The Clinic is an optional module for Postgraduate students on the Human Rights programmes (LLM/MA). In order to take part in the course, you must be enrolled on the Human Rights Centre Clinic module (Module Code: HU902).

      How to apply?

      There are a limited number of places available on the Human Rights Centre Clinic module. Accordingly, all students who wish to participate go through a selection process. Interviews will be held for shortlisted candidates on Wednesday 10 October 2018, successful candidates will then be registered for the module on Enrol.

      Selection decisions are made on the basis of an applicant's cover letter and interview. The cover letter should be no more than 2 pages and should address:

      • Why you want to participate in the Clinic;
      • A ranked list of your three project preferences (a list of this year’s projects is available here);
      • The subjects that you intend to take this year;
      • The degree programme that you are registered on;
      • Your language skills;
      • Any relevant experience, or further information, as appropriate.

      This selection process is necessary to ensure (a) that students are placed on projects matching their interest to the greatest extent possible; and (b) that the Clinic is composed of a representative mix of students, covering different backgrounds, levels of experience, and so on.

      After consideration of the cover letters a shortlist of applicants will be invited to a short interview with the Clinic Director. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of the selection process shortly thereafter. This application process is linked to the overall learning objectives of the Clinic. Selection is made on the basis of the Clinic’s learning objectives, and takes a number of different factors into account. Participation in the Clinic is not determined on the basis of existing professional experience.

      Your application letter should be emailed to:

      Judith Bueno de Mesquita, Human Rights Centre Clinic Acting Director: humanrightscentreclinic@essex.ac.uk.

      The subject matter of the email should read: ‘HRC Application - *name of applicant*’.

      Applications for Clinic Positions will open during Welcome Week 2018 after the induction meeting you will attend, and the deadline for applications is 9am on Monday 8 October 2018. Interviews will be held for shortlisted candidates on Wednesday 10 October 2018.

    • Why be a member of the Clinic?

      Being part of the Clinic gives you a fantastic opportunity to work on real world issues and for organisations working in the field of human rights. This experience gives you an insight into the world of human rights both from a practical and academic perspective. Through the Clinic, you will learn substantive human rights law, develop professional techniques and explore different models/theories for effective promotion of human rights.

    • Hear what our students think

      "We learned how to compile reports on the material we've analysed and learned how to use numerous online tools and software programs to conduct verify human rights abuses. These are all useful skills to have in the field and I can definitely use all of it on my CV."
      Jenna Dolecek, LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law '17
      "A invaluable experience in discovering what it means to be in a truly diverse team with the conflicts and opportunity for learning that it can bring. I believe I came out of it a more rounded human rights advocate"
      Elizabeth Mangenje, LLM in International Human Rights Law: Economic Relations '17
      "Due to the clinic, I was able to gain new experiences that I never would have had otherwise. This definitely contributes to my development as a human rights defender."
      Mark Groenendijk, LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law '17
      "Alongside learning technical and practical skills in research and analysis, you truly learn how to drive a project forward as a team and how to put great ideas into practice. I was given the chance to take ownership of my work and it was really amazing to see the end result of our team effort"
      Dora Raluca Trofor, LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law '16

    Stand-alone Human Rights Clinic Projects

    The Human Rights Centre Clinic also runs stand-alone Units. In 2018-19, the Clinic is running a Death Penalty Sentencing Mitigation Unit, in partnership with Reprieve, providing opportunities to at least six undergraduate students in the School of Law, Department of Sociology and Postgraduate human rights students (LLM/MA). It is also running a Digital Verification Unit, providing opportunities to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

    • Death Penalty Sentencing Mitigation Unit

      Partner: Reprieve

      The Death Penalty Sentencing Mitigation Unit, in partnership with Reprieve, is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Schools of Law and Sociology. The Unit provides support to Reprieve in its representation of European citizens facing the death penalty abroad. Sentencing mitigation work involves the preparation of comprehensive life history investigations of individuals facing criminal penalties.

      Who is eligible to participate as a student in the Unit?

      The Unit accepts applications from undergraduate students from the Schools of Law and Sociology, and postgraduate students from the human rights programmes (LLM/MA)

      How to apply

    • Digital Verification Unit

      Partner: Amnesty International Digital Verification Corps

      Director: Daragh Murray

      Recent advances in digital communications technology – and in particular social media and the spread of the smartphone – have revolutionized the practice of human rights. Victims of, and witnesses to, human rights abuses can now document their experiences, and share them directly with the world. This information can then contribute to broader human rights documentation and accountability mechanisms. Indeed, the recent International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued against Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli was based entirely on open source digital information.

      The Digital Verification Unit works to document and verify digital evidence pertaining to human rights abuses, and to use open source investigative techniques in the pursuit of accountability. It is run by Daragh Murray and Sam Dubberley. Our principal partner is Amnesty International, and the Essex Digital Verification Unit forms part of Amnesty’s digital verification corps (for info, click here).

      For more information, and a video featuring previous students, click here.

      We welcome student volunteers from across the University, so if you are interested in joining, do get in touch, and send an email to Daragh Murray. This email should specify why you want to join the Digital Verification Unit, what you hope to get from the experience, and what you believe you can contribute to the Unit’s work, including any language skills. The deadline for applications is 4pm on 12th October. There will be mandatory training over the weekend of 20/21 October, with members of Amnesty’s Crisis Response Team and other experts.

    What sort of projects does the Clinic undertake?

    Clinic projects address various types of human rights-related issues. They generally involve research that partners need in order to further human rights advocacy and/or implementation of human rights norms. Partners choose to work with the Clinic because at Essex we have gifted human rights students as well as specialised faculty support with the expertise that partners need. Projects that Clinic students carried out include: