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Studies & Degrees in International Human Rights Law

Choose where you would like to study International Human Rights Law:

CanadaIndiaIrelandNetherlandsSwedenThe United States

International human rights law is a collective term encompassing any law, regulation, or treaty agreement that relates to how governments treat certain groups of individuals. Most international human rights laws have to do with discrimination, racial profiling, gender inequalities, and government-sanctioned violence or torture. Since the laws of each country are different, there is no single international human rights law. On the other hand, there are uniform human rights treaties at both global and regional levels that many countries have adopted. The majority of the developments in international human rights law are products of the United Nations (UN) treaties and committee work. Perhaps the best known UN treaty is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which outlines the basic rights that all human beings throughout the world should be able to enjoy, addressing civil rights, socio-economic rights, and cultural and political rights.

What a human rights lawyer would do would typically depend on whether they work for governments or for NGOs. Tasks may include meeting with people, who have had their rights violated, advocating on their behalf, preparing for court, writing briefs, etc. They could also investigate human rights violations, which would include meeting with victims, their families, witnesses, then writing reports based on the information they have obtained, speaking with the media and government leaders, and so on. On the other hand, an international human rights lawyer could also spend their time mostly working on paper – evaluating current policies, changing work protocols, or educating policy makers. Other human rights lawyers mainly work in the academic field, conducting studies and writing academic papers.

Personal Qualities

To work as an international human rights lawyer, you need to feel a strong inner drive to fight for people’s rights, be honest and have a good framework of principals. Other qualities and skills you might ponder on are:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Very good analytical skills
  • Outstanding problem-solving skills
  • Good memory
  • Good at persuading people and outlining your arguments

Study Options

International Human Rights Law is usually offered as a master’s degree at various universities. It is typically aimed at lawyers or law graduates, who wish to focus on the field of international human rights law. These programs are often offered in a way that they can suit working individuals – part-time, full-time, or distance learning courses are available. Human rights is a field, multi-disciplinary in its nature, for which reason it is likely that some institutions would also accept candidates from other backgrounds, too. Some universities offer a full-time internship within their program, and this would be the best option for students, serious about advancing in their careers as international human rights lawyers.

Career Options

International Human Rights Lawyers can work for their private practice and the judiciary, with the United Nations and other international organizations, non-governmental organizations, the armed forces, in universities, the media, medicine and other fields.