Human Rights Clinic

Greg Miller Spn Group Photo

For more than twenty years, the Notre Dame Washington Program has offered undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in meaningful, real-world human rights work through a variety of clinical projects and courses. 

Beginning in fall 2000, and for the next five years, more than 40 students enrolled in the Washington Program assisted with state and federal habeas corpus petitions filed on behalf of Virginia death row inmate Robin Lovitt, which culminated in a grant of executive clemency by then-Governor Mark Warner.  Students enrolled in the Capital Punishment Clinic interviewed witnesses and jurors, monitored news reports, and conducted research on a variety of issues related to DNA testing and evidence destruction. 

Since then, Washington Program students have worked on several noteworthy human rights cases including the car bomb assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in the Global Magnitsky Act Clinic; the detention of Đinh Thị Thu Thuỷ, a Vietnamese environmental activist sentenced to seven years in prison for social media posts critical of the government, in the United Nations Human Rights Clinic; and the murder of Dwayne Jones, a 16-year-old transgender youth, who was brutally attacked and killed by a mob near Montego Bay, Jamaica, in the Inter-American Human Rights Clinic

Partnering with prominent non-governmental organizations and international law firms, the Notre Dame Human Rights Clinic provides students with multiple possibilities to engage in sophisticated, cutting-edge human rights advocacy in service to the cause of freedom, justice and human dignity around the globe.

For more information regarding the Notre Dame Human Rights Clinic, please contact Thomas Kellenberg, the clinic's director, at

Our projects

Global Magnitsky Act Clinic

This clinic will introduce students to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and Executive Order 13818, and will require students to prepare a case file identifying a foreign individual or entity that has engaged in (1) serious human rights abuses, or (2) significant acts of corruption.

United Nations Human Rights Clinic

Working in a team, students will prepare a communication to one of the U.N. Human Rights Council's 45 thematic mandates, or 14 country-specific mandates, on behalf of an individual who has been persecuted or detained and who has not used or promoted violence.

Inter-American Human Rights Clinic

Students enrolled in this clinic will work on a petition currently pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and will be expected to engage with non-governmental organizations, human rights clinics and law firms around the world to solicit, draft and edit amicus briefs for filing in that case.

International Criminal Court Clinic

This clinic will introduce students to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a tribunal seated in The Hague, Netherlands which investigates and tries individuals charged with war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.