The Lowenstein Human Rights Project is the law school's extracurricular human rights group. Through the Lowenstein Project, small teams of students work on specific human rights issues, usually on behalf of, and with guidance from, a human rights or other public interest NGO. Teams conduct research, write memoranda, engage in advocacy activities, and organize events at the law school. The Lowenstein Project was founded in 1981 and named in honor of Allard K. Lowenstein, a U.S. Congressman and pioneering human rights activist. Sophie Chau, Jaclyn Harris and Julia Shu are the 2014-15 Student Directors of the Lowenstein Project, and Jim Silk is the Project's faculty adviser. The Lowenstein Project regularly works with leading U.S.-based human rights organizations as well as smaller organizations headquartered in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Although the Lowenstein Project is an extracurricular group, student participants may receive one ungraded credit per semester for their participation after their first semester of law school. Many students find summer internships through their involvement in the Lowenstein Project.

Most of the projects that students carry out through the Lowenstein Project are developed in cooperation with outside organizations, students are also encouraged to initiate their own projects and solicit volunteers through the Lowenstein Project. The Lowenstein Project holds an organizational meeting each fall to recruit new members and discuss possible projects.

If your organization is interested in working with the Lowenstein Project, please learn more about our project development process.

The Lowenstein Project co-directors typically begin project development over the summer before each academic year begins. We work with staff members of human rights or public interest NGOs to develop projects that address existing research needs within the organization and that are also tailored to the capabilities and skills of YLS students. Students can be recruited to conduct research on domestic or foreign laws, policies, or advocacy strategies, depending on what information would be of most use to the organization's ongoing work. We are happy to provide you with some examples of previous research projects if this would assist you in formulating a project proposal.

Once a research proposal has been generated, a group of 2–6 students is assigned to work on the research or advocacy project. The students begin working on the project in late September or early October and finish the project by mid-to-late December. Depending on how many students express interest in a project, between 20–120 hours can be devoted to the research. All research and writing is completed at Yale using university resources, so students do not incur any expenses.

Organizations typically begin communicating with their assigned students by either having an on-site meeting or through scheduling a conference call. As part of this initial contact, organizations are expected to provide students with a description of the project they are complete, additional background information, and where possible, a sense of where to locate the resources needed to complete the project. A staff member of the organization works as the students’ supervisor and is expected to maintain regular contact with the group throughout the semester to provide feedback and guidance on the research being generated.

At the end of the semester, students submit their work product to the organization, which can take the form of a memorandum, sections of a brief, a set of recommendations, or simply a summary of the research they have conducted.

While the majority of projects are completed in the fall semester, a small number of students remain interested in working on projects during the spring semester. These projects typically begin in February and end in June.

For questions or to discuss a project proposal, please contact one of the student directors: Taylor Henley and Alexander Resar. Thank you!

YLS Students Assisting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Trials)

The Yale Law School Legal Project Assisting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), colloquially referred to as the ECCC Project, is a special initiative within the Lowenstein Project started in the spring of 2007. Students in the ECCC Project perform legal research for the Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC, which is working to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. Although specific project topics are confidential, projects generally involve cutting-edge issues of international law, such as jurisdiction, criminal procedure, immunity, amnesty, victims’ participation, reparations, and compliance with international human rights standards. The students generally work in teams, and each team’s final product is a bench memorandum to a sitting judge on the court regarding an unresolved question of Cambodian or international law. The ECCC Project also meets frequently during the semester as a reading group to learn about and discuss human rights law, international criminal procedure, and Cambodian politics and history. In addition, the ECCC Project arranges a variety of film screenings and hosts guest speakers such as international judges, regional experts, and professors with expertise related to the project. Students also give presentations to fellow project members on their research.

No previous knowledge or experience with transitional justice, international law, or Cambodia is necessary to participate, although such experience is welcomed.

For more information, please contact one of the student directors: Taylor Henley and Alexander Resar.