SOAS University of London

Centre for Human Rights Law

Clinic students say...

Yasmin Bennaim Kuska, Clinic 10 (2019-20)

The clinic has been one of the most wonderful experiences during my MA at SOAS. It has inspired me to understand the passion behind the hard work of human right activism and law to protect human dignity, and all the obstacles faced in the process of change. It has allowed me to not only network with fellow experienced students, real organisations in the field and gain in-practice experience, but also it has given me an insight on how human rights frameworks work and where they fail too. Most importantly, I feel like I have become a better human thanks to acquiring all this knowledge and now I know that a small step, is still an important step towards peace and justice.

Lotta Skule, Clinic 10 (2019-20)

Clinic was my favourite class at SOAS - the format brings in so many varied perspectives on Human Rights advocacy and creates a great space for discussion. I loved our cohort and have found it so helpful, personally, academically and professionally, to debate, challenge and consider how to best apply Human Rights in any realm of work or advocacy going forward. I became really close with my project team and other members of Clinic: we really supported and motivated each other and hence the research project was one of the most committed, ambitious, collaborative, fun projects I've ever worked on. 

Ishita Kumar, Clinic 10 (2019-20)

Clinic 10 will always remain extremely close to my heart as it gave me a chance to be part of a diverse team of colleagues across disciplines, inclined and wired to act for promoting human rights in these testing political times, and supporting each other. To me, Clinic 10 meant solidarity, lots of learning, a sense of commitment, and loads of wonderful snacks!

I highly recommend the Clinic for young human rights advocates. Working on a live project with prominent NGOs on nuanced and topical human rights propositions would help you build a better understanding of designing human rights advocacy strategies and addressing challenges in future roles; essentially, understanding what works and what does not, and for what reasons. Parallelly, Prof Lynn’s lectures on the core workings of the human rights organizations as it exists today, and her insightful remarks on the same would help you delve critically on the research/fact-finding methodologies that feed into rights-based interventions. 

Even though a challenging course that requires you to push yourself, the stimulating, enabling environment created by Prof Lynn, and her support in students’ correspondence with the partner NGOs, makes it such a positive and enriching experience that I would be happy to do it again, if I could!

Kane Jackson, Clinic 10 (2019-20)

The human rights clinic was the highlight of my SOAS experience! As somebody who was making a career change, it bridged the gap between human rights in principle and human rights in practice and it has been paramount in helping me secure a role in human rights. Employers have been extremely interested in what I did in clinic because it’s interesting, hard work and real. Uniquely, the clinic inspires a critical mindset that enables you to constantly evaluate your own impact in the field - a skill that will always be useful in this ever changing arena. Lynn is an absolute pleasure: she becomes your friend, your unwavering source of knowledge and a constant reminder of how much work you’ve agreed to take on. I wish I could do it all over again - I think! 

Stephen Ndhlovu, Clinic 9 (2018-19):

I have a deep liking for the International Human Rights Law Clinic, fundamentally on how it builds up skills in human rights research, report writing and advocacy. I would say, it is the bedrock for developing practical skills, among postgraduate students, that are critical and relevant to human rights practice. It is also a highly intense and fast-paced module with a unique approach: providing space for one to record his/her reflection on the project writing experience – quite a painful solitary exercise, but that which helps one to think through his/her experience and position and contribution to the team –an undertaking, potentially, which helps students to take steps in addressing some of their weak areas and celebrate their strengths and those of the group. I also found the clinic speaking to other modules that I studied, like the International Protection of Human Rights (IPHR), Law and Development in Africa and Gender, Sexuality and Law. I would, often, think: faced with this in my community, how could I go about it – and ideas from the clinic would start popping up. Lastly, I found the experience from the clinic project laying strong foundation for presentation of academic writing. Each time I was preparing an assignment and during the time I was writing my dissertation, I, often, would ask myself: what would Lynn (Prof Lynn Welchman) say on this section or point - and the four elements of her emphasis (according to me) would come to mind: (1) Evidence/accuracy! (2) Where is the scholarship? (3) Where is the law? (4) Citation! Watch your footnotes/Bibliography!

Theresa Mockel, Clinic 9 (2018-19):

“The Clinic was an unmissable part of my SOAS experience. It provided us with an invaluable insight into what it means to work in human rights, from the wide variety of topics and project partners to greatly inspiring guest-speakers, sharing their experiences in UN missions, with different human rights organisations or even in international humanitarian law. To mention is also the constant reflection about one's own work in the clinic as well as about the potential, limitations and critique of human rights work, in my opinion a very important process for anyone considering a career in human rights. Despite being a lot of work, the clinic was also a highly enjoyable experience (I just say lots of cake and snacks, and drinks in the evenings after deadlines). It brought together a diverse group of enthusiastic and highly motivated people who all brought different experiences into the classroom, with the result that clinic was not only a learning together, but also from each other. For all these and many other reasons, I would definitely do it again!”

Sarah Voulaz, Clinic 9 2018-19:

“If you are looking to study an LLM in SOAS and learn about human rights, you have chosen the right place to do so especially because of the uniqueness of the International Human Rights Clinic module. The Clinic is not only an academically enriching experience, but it also represents an opportunity to put human rights theories and knowledge into practice. Firstly, the project report allows you to work in partnership with a human rights NGO. This will help you to develop strong organisational skills, as you are required to constantly communicate with your team members, stick to internal deadlines and update your project partners. Secondly, during class you will have the chance to remain constantly inspired. A variety of speakers who are experts in the human rights field will come to talk to you about their own career paths, including their challenges and successes. This has been my favourite part of the module as it truly opened my eyes to the reality of working in human rights. Finally, the Clinic definitely allows you to improve your writing and advocacy skills. Aside from the project report, the advocacy analysis essay will give you the opportunity to critically analyse an advocacy document of your choice. This is a great opportunity to write about an issue that you feel passionate about. I strongly recommend taking the Clinic module. It is hard work but it is definitely worth it.”

Michael Bader, Clinic 9 (2018-19):

"The SOAS International Human Rights Clinic is one of the best classes I have had at SOAS and my academic studies prior to England. A mix of theory and practice, the full year clinic course represents the perfect opportunity to learn about human rights work and human rights at work. The assigned team project with a renowned human rights NGO in conjunction with theory based discussions during weekly clinic sessions greatly enhanced my understanding of the opportunities, challenges and constraints of human rights in practice. Further, and beyond the indispensable knowledge exchange among students from all over the world, various guest speakers covered different angles and perspectives on human rights: Representatives from a range of organisations, institutions and backgrounds shared their expertise in NGO advocacy and funding, UN missions or human rights in times of war. I can recommend the class to anyone who is interested in an all-round and critical picture of human rights practice, in a creative and demanding learning environment and in making friends from all over."  

Yagmur Izcan, Clinic 8 (2017-18)

“The International Human Rights Clinic was the most inspiring and motivating experience I have had during my postgraduate studies in SOAS. The Clinic provided the most suitable atmosphere to express myself freely, and discuss critical issues with fellow students and speakers that had diverse backgrounds in all aspects. As students, the advocacy analysis essay provided us with the opportunity to individually present our ideas in an area that we were most interested in, whereas the project was a valuable experience in working collaboratively as well. Through the project diaries, I was able to evaluate the process of writing a report as a group continuously, and the feedback received for each entry helped me to improve along the way. The Clinic was not only a module, but a unique environment in which diversity was embraced rather than only being respected.  The time spent during and after the classroom with fellow students and the Clinic convenor have greatly contributed to my education academically and individually.”

Wilson Torres, Clinic 8 (2017-18). 

''The Clinic is the perfect module for specialising in Human Rights because it is a mix of theory and practise. You learn how to write, organise and be clear when writing human rights reports, you will have talks by people with experience in the field plus their suggestions for the future. The environment is professional and of course, there are deadlines, it is not just academic coursework but a professional image of the Clinic. I definitely recommend the Clinic for the reasons mentioned above''.

Purba Tyagi, Clinic 8 (2017-18)

"You will take several important and well-taught modules during your LLM at SOAS, the Clinic will be very different from these classes. As a part of the Clinic you take on the responsibility of working with NGOs on a brief on a pressing human rights issue. Your brief may be used in their advocacy campaigns in whole or part. Clinic was the most engaging academic experience that I had during my time at SOAS, it was the first time I produced a project of that size and honed skills I'm confident I will find useful in my future career. We learned how to plan and make effective use of meetings, write in the language of human rights advocates and most importantly spent several months learning from each other. I am incredibly proud of the way that my team used our different strengths and experiences to compile the best brief we could."

Sherena Corfield, Clinic 7 (2015-16)

"The International Human Rights Clinic is a unique opportunity to practically apply the theoretical knowledge of human rights law courses in a meaningful way. The diverse and imaginative seminars, readings, and fellow students encourage you to critically engage with your own studies and work in a new light. The clinic project pushes you to develop legal research and writing skills at breakneck speed, while team members and project partner offer insights from some of the most stimulating human right practitioners around. Producing a legal brief for Amnesty International remains one of my proudest achievements of my time at SOAS. All in all, the clinic is an inspiring backstage pass to the realities of a career in human rights."

Nayantara Raja, Clinic 7 (2015-16)

"What makes International Human Rights Clinic an excellent course to undertake during your time in SOAS is its balance between the practical and the theoretical. While there is an emphasis on the literature behind human rights clinics and human rights practice, students get the chance to work closely with each other and with reputed human rights organizations on a range of topical international human rights issues. Being able to interact with practitioners and scholars who have worked for many years in human rights provides you with insight into the kinds of career paths available to you after SOAS. Also, the Clinic gives you the opportunity to hone skills that you will need when you step into a professional environment. For anyone doing an MA/LLM in Human Rights, I can think of no course that better complements your study and time at SOAS than the International Human Rights Clinic."

Arijit Sen, Human rights researcher. Clinic 6 (2014-15)

“I would strongly recommended this course for anyone who wants to work in the human rights sector. The course readings and the seminars are meticulously calibrated. It trains one to work in a team, write human rights reports within legal frameworks, and critically approach different human rights situations. The clinic is a unique platform that brings together practitioners and scholars, engages with current debates and looks at the effectiveness of ideas, both old and new.” 

Farzad Ibadi, Clinic 7 (2015-16)

"The Clinic at SOAS gave me the opportunity to get some valuable practical experience with human rights advocacy, something which is rare in law degrees. Students have the opportunity to cooperate with international human rights organisations, and make valuable contributions to the human rights movement through exciting projects."

Kelsey Ryburn, Clinic 7 (2015-16)

"The Clinic was one of my favourite learning experiences. The Clinic exposes you to different facets and fields within the international human rights sector, while providing an opportunity to work with human rights sector projects partners. I met the most incredible people, learned so much, and made life long friends. Any students committed to working in the human rights should consider the Clinic."

Viola von Braun, Clinic 7 (2015-16)

"For three reasons the International Human Rights Clinic has been the most valuable (and challenging) course during my entire law studies. Firstly, before joining the Clinic I was uncertain which specific path in the area of Human Rights Law I truly wanted to pursue. It was very helpful, therefore, that we were introduced to interesting and diverse guest speakers each week, who have dedicated their careers to various human rights matters. Secondly, the course uniquely combines legal theory of Human Rights Law with practical work experience. The project work gives students the opportunity to become experts in a specific human rights matter and learn how to work within a team under time-pressure. Thirdly - and most importantly - I had the pleasure to meet a classroom full of amazing students from all over the world!"

Eva Sibanda, Clinic 7 (2015-16)

“Of all my studied modules, this is the class during which participants truly bonded, and ideas bounced around to supplement the excellent speakers each week. For three hours every Thursday morning I felt like I truly belonged among this class of individuals who shared my passion for human rights. The project work assigned to us by our NGO project partners meant that we were constantly engaged in human rights work, in and outside the seminar room. The meetings with my team’s project partner were very helpful in guiding us with our work and in the end the satisfaction of having made a real difference and assisted with the work of our project partner was greater than any academic mark. Highly recommended to anyone who wishes to work in human rights or has an interest in human rights work.”

Andrew Hagopian, Clinic 6 (2014-15)

"The International Human Rights Clinic was an immensely rewarding experience.   No other course at SOAS provides students with such a diverse array of learning opportunities.  From discussing human rights practice with leaders in the field to presenting original research to human rights organisations, the Clinic experience is one that challenges and enriches. 

The Clinic allowed me to develop and refine skills that are indispensible to effective human rights work.  The seminars gave me an important, critical perspective on international human rights practice, and the project work taught me how to address contemporary human rights issues in a dynamic team environment.  The collaborative nature of the Clinic underscores the importance of effective teamwork and communication alongside legal research and writing.  All of this contributes to a deep, meaningful engagement with human rights that is unique to the Clinic.

The Clinic is rigorous and demanding, but I highly recommend it to students who are committed to human rights and who seek to put international human rights law to practice.  The Clinic stands out as one of the best academic experiences that I had during my time at SOAS."

Gemma, Clinic 6 (2014-15)

"The best thing about the Clinic is the amazing speakers each week - I enjoyed hearing from a wide range of human rights specialists that I would not otherwise have been able to meet and learn from."

Maja Pecanac, Clinic 6 (2014-15)

"International Human Rights Clinic at SOAS has been much more than a typical academic course for me.  IHR Clinic was an oasis of learning, socializing and exchanging views and experiences. Teamwork, outstanding guest speakers and the direction and teaching of our wonderful professor Lynn Welchman, made the Clinic a class I always attended with a smile and a curious mind."

Hadrian Tulk, Clinic 5 (2013-14)

"The SOAS human rights clinic presents a chance to truly understand human rights in a practical dimension in seminars with established practitioners and academics that are passionate about their subject areas. It also presents a chance to fully apply that understanding into a tangible project with a real world partner organisation. Additionally, you will work and learn alongside like minded peers.  This is an utterly priceless and unique experience for anyone aspiring to work in the field of human rights.  It is a journey like no other and one that has prepared me with the professional skills and the personal perspective and confidence to work in pursue my career ambitions as a human rights practitioner."

Dario of Clinic 5 (2013-14)

“The International human rights clinic course has been invaluable for its critical approach to human rights practice. Combining academic theory with a first-hand experience was a very effective way of learning skills needed by anyone who wishes to start a career in the human rights field. Lectures held by human rights practitioners, such as the course convenor herself, have been very inspiring. The international human rights clinic has been an essential complement to all the other academic modules of human rights law that I took during the LLM at SOAS.”

Julia Ridemark, Clinic 5 (2013-14)

“The International Human Rights Clinic is different from any other course I have ever taken. The nature of the project work was similar to the type of research I had previously carried out as an intern for an international NGO. It was very practical in nature, very different from regular course work, and variously helped me acquire or improve my skills in team work, organisation, time management, legal research, report writing and editing, working towards a deadline and under pressure, and communication. The partner organisation that my group worked with in the Clinic treated us more like human rights professionals than students and really valued our opinions. Knowing that our final report would contribute to the organisation’s human rights work was very encouraging and fulfilling. The added benefit of being part of the Clinic is that you get the chance to work closely with people who share your passion for human rights. Through the shared experience of working on Clinic projects all the Clinic members came together, forging bonds and friendships that will last far beyond our time at SOAS.”

Marzia Pasquali, Clinic 5 (2013-14)

“I was assigned the Amnesty International project on the impact of austerity measures on socio-economic rights. Not only have I learned so much about human rights advocacy in both domestic and international settings, how to do research for case law and writing reports in a team, but I was constantly inspired by the weekly seminar and the amazing work of the other teams.”

Kayla Gebeck, Clinic 5 (2013-14)

“Not only was I able to work with a project partner that directly related to my academic interests - land grabbing, natural resource development and building legal, government and financial capacity - but I was able to use paralleling themes and incorporate international concepts learned into my current job working as a policy analyst for a Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), a nonprofit in Washington D.C. which works to build financial capacity, good governance practices and diversifying GDPs. Although I now work in a completely different sector, the skills honed in the clinic - strong writing, research, analytical and communication skills - transferred well into my current job. I strongly believe if it were not for the clinic I would not have been as prepared for my work as I am now.”

Salma Abbas Elmasry, Clinic 5 (2013-14)

"The Human Rights Clinic has been my most engaging course at SOAS. I got to work on a report that related directly to my study of human rights and interests with an excellent human rights NGO, REDRESS. The experience of working on that report, whether with my team of co-authors or with the organisation itself, was a very real simulation of actual research and report writing in human rights work, and it greatly developed my legal research, report writing and team communication skills. The seminars themselves, with the occasional drop-ins of fascinating guests from international law practitioners, to human rights advocates and scholars,  have been extremely interesting and enriching, and even more exciting given their combination of real, ground-work insight into the practical field of human rights and not just within the walls of academia. I would say in earnest at the end of my year, I am very proud and glad to have been a part of this Clinic."

Sahar Ahmed, Clinic 6 (2014-2015)

"The International Human Rights Clinic was by far the best thing to happen to me at SOAS. The Clinic is truly one of its kind. Combining the expertise of human rights lawyers and activists, it provides an opportunity for would-be human rights practitioners to gain critical consciousness of the cross-sectional work of trans-national human rights organisations by requiring students to research and prepare reports for partner organisations. In the project team I was assigned to, the four month long iterative process involved undertaking extensive research and writing (and rewriting!) multiple drafts of reports which not only introduced me to the world of NGO report writing but also further honed my academic writing capabilities.

The Clinic revolves around talks and visits by experts in the field of Human Rights which complement our project work and prove to be invaluable for the insight gained through them, however, the debates and discussions within the Clinic itself are the real highlight. To be a part of a group of 20 odd strong-willed, opinionated, and passionate people, who may strongly disagree with each other’s perspectives but want to learn from and absorb each other’s knowledge is remarkable and the teamwork based atmosphere of the Clinic allows for just that. The Clinic is truly the beating heart of the SOAS Human Rights programme and I cannot recommend it enough to prospective students."

Victoria Fernandes, Clinic 4 (2012-13)

"The Human Rights Clinic offers students a unique opportunity of both hands-on experience, through working in partnership with human rights organisations on live projects and weekly lectures, which greatly prepares students for work in this field.

Project work not only helped hone my professional skills but also the work undertaken, although challenging, was immensely rewarding.

The course also instills the importance of continuously reflecting on your work, which tends to be overlooked in practice. It also reinforced the importance of being prepared for disappointments and how necessary it is to be resilient when working in this field. 

The weekly lectures are given by expert practitioners in international human rights law which allows you to gain a special insight into working in this field which helps to challenge your initial thoughts, views and beliefs.

The wealth of learning outcomes offered through this opportunity not only stimulated my study of human rights law for the LLM but also greatly bolstered the imaginative and critical thinking required to gain professional employment in this area."

Melissa, Clinic 4 (2011-12)

"The SOAS International Human Rights Clinic is an outstanding course and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is prepared to bring a high level of commitment and engagement to the class. It provided me with an opportunity to develop excellent practical skills for a career in international human rights research and advocacy. More importantly, it provided a unique opportunity to consider the thorniest issues of human rights practice with a degree of rigor which is difficult to achieve on the job. I have found myself returning to these issues repeatedly in my subsequent career as an advocate and lawyer."

Divya Iyer, Clinic 4 (2011-12) 

“The SOAS human rights clinic will always be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling academic experiences of my life. I genuinely believe that the rigour and structure of the Clinic, along with its training in legal writing and human rights research has contributed immensely to my current role as Research Manager for a reputed international human rights organization. The Clinic is a space that allows you the freedom to shape your own views on human rights approaches, informed through some fascinating seminars that bring in some of the best practitioners in the world; is invaluable for its exposure to some of the leading organizations that work on a range of human rights issues, and lessons in critical enquiry, time-management, report writing and most importantly, team work. I will always be very glad and proud of having been a part of this incredible initiative. I strongly recommend this course for anybody who is serious about working and contributing to the human rights sector.”

Esther Mamadou Blanco, Clinic 4 (2011-12)

"My experience in the SOAS Human Rights Clinic has been the most rewarding academic experience I have had to date and proved enriching beyond expectation. I really appreciated the sense of teamwork and partnership. I learned how issues are dealt with when human rights in theory and practice meet. I evolved a better understanding of the human rights movement, developing my research skills, advocacy strategies, new approaches to what are, in the end, same issues but seen under different perspectives. As a team we contributed to the "human rights work" as a part of a major initiative with the NGO Child Soldiers International and it has resulted in me getting a more mature outlook as a human rights defender for the present and going forward. I highly recommend this course."

Fatima Ahmad Khan, Clinic 3 (2010-11)

"The International Human Rights Clinic dramatically changed my perspective and thinking. With my background in the domestic sphere, as a lawyer and lecturer, I started the year unsure about the effectiveness of the international human rights organisation, the year ended with my dissertation focusing on how such organisations can be more effective on the national front. Each student in the Clinic, carefully chosen by Lynn Welchman for their unique skill set and background, provided a wonderful melting pot for seminars with speakers. An invaluable experience. The practical aspect of the Clinic includes a project with a partner human rights organisation. For any student from a non-human rights background, this is an amazing opportunity to research, draft and execute a report or project. I would highly recommend the Clinic."

Haley St. Dennis, Clinic 3 (2010-11)

“The SOAS International Human Rights Clinic was a life changing course for me.  I chose it because I wanted to be exposed to the very practical workings of human rights advocacy, and that is exactly what I got.  Each week we had interactive discussions with different representatives across a range of NGOs and organisations, from a how-to on international trial observance to an overview of a newer human rights movement concerning the impacts of businesses.  The latter was the reason the experience was so life changing, as it exposed me to a network of individuals and organisations working on an issue in which I became intensely interested.  I now work for one of those organisations and get to apply the diversity of my Clinic experiences everyday.  In addition to this very practical and eye-opening exposure to practitioners and their day-to-day work, the Clinic is extremely well structured to engrain key skills to work in the field of human rights: research and teamwork. “

Suraj Girijashanker, Clinic 3 (2010-11)

"The International Human Rights Clinic was easily one of the highlights of my time at SOAS. The Clinic provided balance to my LLM degree and greatly strengthened my research and advocacy skills.

My team worked on a policy brief for a major international human rights NGO relating to advocacy opportunities within the international disability rights framework. The opportunity to engage directly with various teams at our Project Partner and contribute to work in what was then a relatively new area for the organization was invaluable. The experience researching and drafting the brief was completely different from anything I worked on during my LLM. The brief wasn’t purely an academic piece of work, but also geared towards practical outcomes. The highlight of the project was presenting our findings to a wider group of staff from our Project Partner once we had completed our brief.

The Clinic exposed me to a range of perspectives from the weekly speakers as well as the students. Every course at SOAS has students with diverse views and experiences, but the Clinic was really something else. Clinic discussions gave me the space to step back and question my views on human rights issues and the kind work I wanted to engage in. Strongly recommended for anyone who is interested in a career in human rights."

Ahmed Elsayed, Clinic 2 (2008-09)

"Undoubtedly, the Clinic is a unique venue for those willing to tackle international human rights topic from both practical and academic perspectives.  However, I am writing this feedback to stress that the Clinic’s experience offers a lot more than that. The dynamics of team working, cooperating with practicing partners, producing a report or engaging in a goal-oriented project and weekly seminars with renowned practitioners and scholars  all offer a set of skills relevant to human rights but also to any area of legal work. The Clinic trains you to structure your work, thoughts and to appreciate the importance of networking and creating professional connections. Be warned though, the Clinic is no place for a recipient student, participation and preparedness are mandatory to make the best out of the experience."

Judge Ahmed Bakry, Clinic 1 (2007-08)

"The Human Rights Clinic was a unique opportunity that I will always be proud of. It made me learn a new and unique way of studying based on working independently and then sharing this work with my group at the clinic. I got to meet and work with several partners of the Clinic in the area of human rights with a diversity in the work assignments. The Clinic gave me a good understanding of the challenges of NGOs and how they work. Being divided into different groups from different parts of the world made the Clinic class like a family, and we are still in contact. I highly recommend the SOAS Human Rights Clinic."                              

Christel Querton, Barrister, Clinic 1 (2007-2008)

"I was lucky to be part of the ‘pilot’ international human rights clinic at SOAS in 2007/2008. I can honestly say that the course was the best experience I had at SOAS. Working on research projects with NGOs allowed us to get practical experience of how human rights research can change practice on the ground. It taught us useful skills for practice such as independent human rights research, team work, project coordination and presentation. As a result of our research we could show tangible outputs when applying for work after the LLM. The group was composed of students who had just finished their studies and others who had up to 10 years of work experience in the humanitarian sector. Some had legal backgrounds and others social science degrees. We all had something to contribute to the clinic and we learnt from each other too. This environment coupled with the varied and esteemed different speakers every week made for a truly engaging learning experience. I have made lifelong friends through the clinic, and knowing others who work in the human rights field too is an asset."