This course covers the international legal framework for civil society, protests, and dissent. It examines how emergency powers, counter-terrorism measures, and emerging issues (such as artificial intelligence) affect the space for civic activism. We will also speak with people in the news – past classes have spoken with UN officials, human rights defenders around the world, and a lawyer for a group allegedly engaged in terrorism.
We will examine international law and survey national legislation in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Limited reading is expected, and we'll learn through interactive exercises, reflection papers, and class discussions.
The course will provide contacts and skills to help you pursue a career in international human rights law. Internships are also available for eligible students at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which works in 100 countries to advance civic freedom.
By the end of the semester, you should have the ability to:
- Analyze international law governing the freedoms of association and assembly;
- Evaluate the extent to which national legislation complies with international law;
- Craft arguments to bring national legislation closer to international law and good practice;
- Communicate effectively with diplomats, government officials, and civic activists;
- Analyze ethical aspects that arise in crafting laws that affect the freedoms of association and assembly; and
- Assess the impact of law on nonprofit organizations, social movements, and protests.