The following article lists five of the world’s top universities at which to undertake a Master of Laws Degree in the field of International Human Rights Law.
This programme is offered jointly by the Department for Continuing Education and the Faculty of Law and takes place on a part-time basis over a period of 22 months. The programme is structured as such so as to accommodate for lawyers and others human rights practitioners who wish to further their studies while continuing their practice in the field. During the learning period, students will complete two distance-learning modules online as well as two learning periods based at the Oxford campus. The course has a focus on human rights in practice. The aim is to ensure that students not only know the law around human rights, but can use it to implement change in the real world. Furthermore, in grappling with the scope and limitations of international human rights law, students are pushed to think analytically about what further research needs there are around the subject.
The Human Rights Programme at Harvard Law offers an academic programme centred around international human rights learning, scholarship and research. The ‘Concentration in Human Rights’ is offered by the Human Rights Programme as one of four concentrations for LL.M. students at the university. The LL.M. is a one-year degree and students are expected to take classes in ‘International Human Rights’ and ‘Human Rights in the UN Treaty Bodies’ amongst other electives as well as to submit a long paper on a subject related to human rights. The programme also offers reading groups for students which focus on specific human rights topics and are led by experts in the concerned field. The Harvard Human Rights Programme aims to create a community of scholars and practitioners engaged in critical reflection and discussion around international human rights issues. This environment provides excellent exposure and opportunity for LL.M. students to network with a broad array of human rights thinkers.
The LL.M. programme at Yale Law School allows students to tailor their legal education towards their specialised area of interest. One such ‘area of interest’ is the Human Rights Law stream. As a one-year, full-time degree, students are encouraged to use the resources from the Law School to design a programme of study that will best fit their interests. The study of human rights law at Yale is centred around the Orville H. Schell. Jr. Center for International Human Rights which coordinates a diverse range of human rights programmes and activities for students, scholars and the broader community of human rights practitioners. Additionally, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic is a Law School course which allows students to engage practically with on-going projects and gain first-hand experience dealing with and on behalf of practicing human rights organisations. The structure of the LL.M. degree at Yale, and the various resources available, allow students to develop their own academic programme around International Human Rights Law.
The Cambridge International Human Rights Law programme has a focus on bringing together historical and contemporary ideas and concepts that have shaped the practice of human rights law. At the end of the one-year programme students will have gained critical skills allowing them to: explore and analyse key concepts and themes in human rights law; examine the interconnection between international human rights law and other social and normative phenomena; assess the significance of international human rights law at a global level; and foster an engaged and critical approach to the protection of international human rights. The course comprises of both coursework and a master’s thesis allowing students to engage with a general introduction to concepts around human rights law as well as focus more specifically on specialised streams. Students will be well-equipped to enter the field of international human rights law upon graduating.
The Columbia Law School has introduced a ‘Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship’ for the class of 2018-2019. This programme is targeted at individuals who have a keen interest and show great potential in the field of international human rights. The Fellowship will provide students with a tailored and rigorous programme of practical skills training, academic scholarship and career mentoring in order to produce a class of innovative and dedicated human rights leaders. Jointly coordinated by the Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, this fellowship encourages students to engage with practitioners, lawyers and academics alike. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a strong commitment to the field of international human rights and previous experience in some form is advantageous. The university offers plenty of opportunity for students to engage with human rights issues and become active participants in the protection of human rights.