The Work of the Schell Center
The Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights was established at Yale Law School in 1989 to honor Orville Schell, a distinguished New York City lawyer and partner at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, who was vice chairman of Helsinki Watch and chairman of Americas Watch from its founding in 1981 until his death in 1987. International human rights practitioners rarely have the opportunity to consider the theoretical issues their work entails, while scholars studying human rights lack a forum for interdisciplinary dialogue. At the same time, law students are eager to apply the lessons they are learning in the classroom to further the cause of human rights. The Schell Center addresses these needs by seeking to increase knowledge and understanding of international human rights issues; to equip lawyers and other professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to advance the cause of international human rights; and to assist human rights organizations.
The Schell Center conducts the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic every term. It sponsors frequent lectures, panels, symposia, and informal discussions on a wide range of human rights issues and provides a number of fellowship opportunities for human rights experience and scholarship. The center also supports the Lowenstein International Human Rights Project, the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, and other student projects related to human rights.
In 2011, the center’s annual conference, the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship Symposium, was “Human Rights in 2025.”
During 2010–2011, speakers at the center’s Human Rights Workshop: Current Issues and Events included advocates from human rights organizations, scholars, and journalists. They spoke on such topics as “Targeted Killings in the ‘War on Terror,’” “The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History,” “Un-Veiling Equality: Disciplining the ‘Other’ Woman Through Human Rights Discourse,” “The Shifting Global Politics of Human Rights Advocacy,” and “Human Rights and the Drug Wars in Mexico.”
The Schell Center, often in collaboration with other centers and organizations at the University, also sponsored many panels and talks. Human rights advocates and scholars, including a number of former Yale Law School students, addressed such topics as “The New Mandate for Human Rights: Addressing Lawlessness Among the Global Poor,” “Working on Womens’ Rights in Iran – the Case of Stoning,” “Pakistan and Beyond: The Law and Politics of Aid After Humanitarian Catastrophes,” “Human Rights, Terrorism and U.S. National Security in Africa,” “Economic Sanctions: Moral, Legal, and Strategic Perspectives,” “Experimenting with Torture: Psychology, Morality and the Law,” and “Varieties of Faith as a Source of Commitment to Social Justice.”
As it does each year, the Schell Center held a human rights career panel and sponsored several panels of Kirby Simon Summer Human Rights Fellows, who spoke about their experience and the issues raised by their summer work.
The Schell Center administers several human rights fellowships.
The Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights, inaugurated in 1997, funds recent Yale Law School graduates annually to engage in full-time human rights work for a year. In 2010–2011, Bernstein Fellows worked with Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute on issues related to refugee rights in Greece and Turkey; and with the Vera Institute of Justice on Chinese legal reform.
The Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship also funds recent Yale Law School graduates to do full-time human rights work, particularly with appropriate international or foreign courts and tribunals and intergovernmental and governmental human rights agencies. The 2010-2011 Robina Fellows worked as: a legal intern in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; as a Special Adviser in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; and as a Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser to the U.S. State Department.
Each summer, the Schell Center provides students with travel grants for international human rights work. In 2010, Kirby Simon Summer Human Rights Fellowships, supported by the Robina Foundation, allowed 31 students to spend all or part of the summer engaged in human rights internships or research in 18 countries throughout the world.
The center invites scholars and advocates to visit the Law School as Schell, Robina Foundation, and Tom and Andi Bernstein Fellows to conduct research, teach seminars, and meet with students. The Tom and Andi Bernstein Fellows in 2010-2011 were Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt and Shadi Sadr of Iran. The Robert M. Cover–Allard K. Lowenstein Fellow in International Human Rights Law spends two years at the Law School, working on all aspects of the center’s work, including supervision of the Lowenstein Clinic.
The director of the Schell Center is Professor Paul W. Kahn. The executive director is Professor James J. Silk. The Schell Center’s e-mail address is email@example.com