Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights

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Strengthening laws, norms and institutions to prevent mass atrocities, protect populations and rebuild societies.


  • Strengthening Laws, Norms and Institutions

    to Prevent Mass Atrocities, Protect Populations

    and Rebuild Societies.

    ABOVE: Cardozo Law in NYCs Greenwich Village.BELOW: Refugees carrying themselves, their families and their belongings to safety.

    Dominic Nahr 2008

    Songquan Deng /Shutterstock



  • CLIHHR (pronounced clear) began in 2005 with unclaimed funds from a Holocaust claims litigation settlement. The mission

    was to engage in education, publication, and advocacy toward atrocity prevention. Since then, the Institute has become the

    locus for high-level discussion on Holocaust remembrance and atrocity prevention, developing a unique and sophisticated

    approach. With the support of individual donors and foundation grants, the Institute now boasts 10 faculty and staff members

    implementing 10 programs to advance the scholarship and advocacy in the field.

    CARDOZO LAW INSTITUTE IN HOLOCAUST AND HUMAN RIGHTS began as the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program in 2005 with the aim to prevent mass atrocities and promote human security.

    TODAY, the Institute maintains its original purpose while expanding to meet

    complex and EVER-EVOLVING challenges in mass atrocity prevention and response.

    Remembering the Holocaust demands BEING RESPONSIVE to the future world.

    With compassion for victims of the Holocaust and mass atrocities, we are

    dedicated to paying it forward. Maturing from a scholarly program into an

    institute with practical tools, we implement change to prevent and respond to

    mass atrocities. 2015 MARKS A TURNING POINT as we expand and evolve into an

    organization that has grown at a pace in parallel with a growing global need

    for scholarly policy and advocacy work on the PREVENTION OF MASS ATROCITIES.

    2014 SAW THE HIGHEST number of refugees since WWII with 3.2 million refugees

    fleeing Syria alone; extreme forms of Islam, ISIL and Boko Haram across

    North Africa and the Middle East; ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE in the Central

    African Republic; 300,000 civilian deaths in Eastern Ukraine; thousands of

    young children fleeing torture and gang violence seeking asylum in the U.S.,

    Australia and the U.K. Prepared by the lessons of the past, we confront new

    scenarios in A CHANGING WORLD.

    The Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights is AT THE FOREFRONT

    of strengthening laws, norms and institutions to prevent mass atrocities by

    using a systematic 3-part strategy: PREVENT, PROTECT & REBUILD.

    O U R I N S T I T U T E


  • 1 P R E V E N T

    A T R O C I T E S

    We leverage institutional

    expertise and resources

    to challenge discriminatory

    policies and practices to

    prevent individuals from

    becoming targets for

    mass atrocities.

    2 P R O T E C T

    P O P U L A T I O N S

    Individuals displaced

    by genocide and other mass

    atrocities need protection. We

    defend refugee rights, represent

    asylum seekers, and advocate

    for state adherence to



    3 R E B U I L D

    S O C I E T I E S

    We assist in

    processes of truth,

    justice, accountability,

    reparation and

    non-recurrence of


    MASS ATROCITIES unfold over t ime in complex yet somewhat predictable ways. Our three -part strategy is a systematic, holistic approach that addresses mass atrocity factors within a circuitous continuum of OVERLAPPING PATTERNS and simultaneous events. While there is

    no clear beginning, middle, or end to mass atrocities, EARLY WARNING ANALYSIS

    is now accepted as reliably predicting behaviors that are more likely to lead to

    genocide and other mass atrocities.

    Our strategy is to PREVENT atrocities, recognizing it implies to PROTECT populations

    and to REBUILD during and after crisis. Our solution is to focus on the cycle of

    behavior beginning with events that precede rights violations and conflicts that

    ignite violence, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, followed by the

    losses, destruction and devastation that can refuel the cyclical pattern of atrocities.

    O U R 3 - PA R T S T R AT E G Y

    Bhutanese refugees in Beldangi I presenting a Bhutanese passport.

    In the Dadaab refugee camp, hundreds of thousands of Somalis wait for help.

    In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovenia, a child sings in order to provide money for his family.

    Paul P

    rescott /

    hikrcn /


    edia Com


  • WE ACCOMPLISH our mission through multiple means. We TRAIN government officials and others on atrocity prevention. We BUILD multilateral networks on mass atrocities, strength-ening an early warning atrocity prevention system around the world. We PARTNER with the U.S. and other governments, international and regional organizations. We pursue legislative reform and institution-building to strengthen atrocity prevention systems. We EDUCATE law students and legal profes-sionals to respect and further the rights of individu-als. We research and PUBLISH cutting-edge academic and policy scholarship on atrocity prevention, the Holocaust and international human rights. We ADVOCATE on behalf of individuals and groups suffering from systemic discrimination and mass atrocities. We PROMOTE international human rights toward eradicating genocide and mass atrocities. We PROTECT individuals immediately through legal representation for asylum seekers. We RAISE aware-ness by hosting discussions, organizing public lectures and conferences.

    PROJECTS Practical project strategies offer pragmatic solutions and approaches to combatting human rights viola-tions, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Projects span a range of diverse, globally responsive fields:

    > Early Warning and Response Project

    > Citizenship and Statelessness Project

    > Equality and Nondiscrimination Project

    > Holocaust Remembrance and Justice Project

    > Refugee Representation Project

    > Pro Bono International Advocacy Project

    > Law and Armed Conflict Project

    > Accountability and Justice Project

    > Criminalizing Illegal Use of Armed Force Project

    > Jesuits Massacre Documentation Project

    ABOVE: Associate Director, Refugee Representation Project Teresa Woods trains Ferkauf School of Psychology professors and students in refugee law. LEFT: Telford Taylor Fellow Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum presents scholarship at a conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

    H O W W E W O R K

    Cardozo Law students with local counterparts in Kigali, Rwanda.

  • CLINIC Students represent individual clients seeking asy-lum and partner with organizations to promote human rights in an effort to prevent atrocities. The Human Rights and Atroc-ity Prevention Clinic trains the next generation of advocates while offering students the opportunity to make a difference. Recently, students assisted Asylum Access Ecuador in success-ful refugee rights litigation before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court. Student teams have also drafted early warning analysis reports for the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect.

    CROSS-DISCIPLINARY CLINIC COLLABORATIONGraduate students of psychology learn to conduct forensic evaluations to support asylum claims. Law students and psy-chology students share knowledge across disciplines toward improving their respective professional practices and serving clients needs. The Refugee Representation Project partners with Yeshiva Universitys Ferkauf School of Psychology to pro-vide holistic services to asylum seekers.

    CONFERENCES & SYMPOSIA CLIHHR organizes and sponsors interdisciplinary approaches to dialogue, con-ferences, and workshops, furthering the goals of preventing atrocities and ending violent conflict and oppression globally. Deconstructing Prevention: The Theory, Policy and Practice of Mass Atrocity Prevention brought together multiple disciplines

    for critical reflection of the rapidly expanding atrocity preven-tion agenda. For another event, CLIHHR partnered with the Raoul Wallenberg Legacy of Leadership Project to increase awareness of Raoul Wallenberg, his legacy and its importance for contemporary mass atrocity prevention. CLIHHR hosted the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson and former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo to impart knowledge of Wallenberg, the Swed-ish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives dur-ing the Second World War in Hungary, and his legacy.

    PUBLICATIONS Our faculty conducts research and furthers scholarship on human rights, atrocity prevention and humanitarian law. Recent publications include Professor Rich-ard Weisbergs book In Praise of Intransigence: The Perils of Flexibility (Oxford University Press, 2014), Professor Sheri P. Rosenbergs edited volume entitled Reconstructing Atrocity Pre-vention (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Professor Gabor Ronas chapter, Views from Mars, Views from Venus: Minding the Gap between What We say and What We Do on Terrorism, in Jenkins, Jacobsen and Henriksen, The Long Decade: How 9/11 Changed the Law (Oxford University Press, 2014). The latest Institute publication furthers the implementation of R2P in international law and is titled A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect (2013).

    Young Suk Lim (16) and Noelle Forde (16) working on a clients asylum interview.

    Deconstructing Prevention: The Theory, Policy and Practice of Mass Atrocity Prevention conference provided a multidisciplinary agenda for atrocity prevention.

    Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson with Former Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect Edward Luck at the Raul Wallenberg Legacy Project event.

    Photo C

    redit: Tristan Brand

  • WE WORK with the United Nations, government officials and non-government organizations to protect human rights and prevent mass atrocities. Since minorities are the most frequent targets of mass atrocities, our focus areas include: minority rights, citizenship rights, equality, state-lessness prevention, and supporting early warning analysis and engagement for atrocity crimes.

    Clinic students have represented clients in landmark cases, including Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, before the European Court of Human Rights. In this important victory for non-discrimination and equality, the Court ruled that the Bosnian Constitution could not exclude ethnic minorities from running for President or Parliament. The 2009 ruling requires Bosnia to amend its Constitution to ensure equal public par-ticipation for all.

    As part of our Citizenship and Statelessness Project, we advocate for citizenship rights and work to reduce state-lessness because stateless individuals are among the most vulnerable populations and are often at risk for atrocities. The Clinic partners with the Open Society Justice Initiative Citizen-ship and Equality Program in strategic litigation efforts before the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. In Open Society Justice Initiative v. Cote dIvoire (Comm. 318/06), students assisted in challenging Cote dIvoires discriminatory laws and drafted new citizenship legislation for the country to prevent further human rights violations.

    The clinic was the most exciting, meaningful, and valuable part of my law school experience. It provided me with the sound legal foundation and critical

    practical skills that I draw upon every day as an asylum and immigration attorney. Sara Levine, Cardozo Class of 2013

    We also help to develop international norms, including the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Doctrine, to prevent mass atrocities. Our report entitled A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect created standards for R2P to determine when the international community must act to protect populations and prevent atrocity crimes.

    Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations Francis Deng, CLIHHR Faculty Director Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation Tibi Galis, and former Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect Edward C. Luck at the Deconstructing Prevention Conference held at Cardozo Law.

    Syrian refugees at the Syrian-Turkish border.

    Thomas K

    och / Shutterstock.comW H AT W E P R E V E N T

  • IN OUR REFUGEE REPRESENTATION PROJECT, we protect refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Since 2011, students have rep-resented 20 asylum seekers from 13 countries in affirmative and defensive proceedings. So far, all of our clients with final decisions have succeeded in receiving asylum.

    Students also assist asylum seekers while advocating for change in refugee laws and policies globally. In 2014, the Clinic and Refugee Representation Project partnered with Human Rights Watch to support Asylum Access Ecuador in litigation before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court. Our students drafted an amicus brief demonstrating Ecuadors international legal obli-gations to protect refugees seeking asylum within its borders.

    Our Law and Armed Conflict Project strengthens international humanitarian law (the law of war) and human rights law to en-sure that populations are protected, especially in these times of evolving and changing landscapes of violent conflict. In Fall 2014, Professor Gabor Rona gave an insightful talk entitled The U.S. in Iraq and Syria: Can old laws handle new threats?

    Melissa Lefas (12) and Rwandan counterpart in Kigali, Rwanda. Teresa Woods, and Sarah Efronson, Class of 2013 with an RRP client and her son.

    In Syria, raising my voice put me in danger and forced me to leave my country. Cardozos Refugee Represen-tation Project worked tirelessly to help

    me get asylum. I am now on a path to citizen-ship and rebuilding my life here, all while I still fight for a democratic Syria. Ms. H.

    Bangladeshi refugee children and women from Arakan in camps in Arakan, Bangladesh.

    Photoreporter /

    W H O W E P R OT E C T

  • OUR ACCOUNTABILITY AND JUSTICE PROJECT rebuilds societies in post-conflict transi-tions. We assist with litigation efforts to hold international war criminals to account for atrocity crimes. Our recent projects include research for United Nations Special Rap-porteurs working on transitional justice issues and assisting the Center for Justice and Accountability to extradite human rights abusers for trial in Spanish courts under universal jurisdiction laws.

    We also advocate for implementing international criminal law to prevent future atrocity crimes, combat impunity and hold indi-viduals to account. Under our Jesuits Massacre Documentation Project (JMDP), Professor Patty Blum manages an ever-growing database of documents related to the November 1989 Salva-doran military massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. The JMDP provides critical documentary support for litigation and efforts to bolster the historical record for El Salvador.

    The Hol...


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