Cardozo Launches Holocaust and Human Rights Law Institute

Institute Offers Opportunities for Study in International Human Rights, Humanitarian, Refugee and Criminal Law

Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will launch the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR, pronounced “clear”). CLIHHR is a leading global center dedicated to strengthening laws, norms and institutions to prevent mass atrocities and promote human security. Consistent with Cardozo Law’s reputation for its distinguished faculty and innovative programs, CLIHHR offers invaluable opportunities to students in international human rights, humanitarian, refugee and criminal law while contributing to scholarship, policy and advocacy in the field.

The Institute began as the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program in 2005 with unclaimed funds from a Holocaust claims litigation settlement. The program then became the locus for high-level discussion on Holocaust remembrance and atrocity prevention. Today, the program has expanded into an institute to meet the ever-evolving challenges in mass atrocity prevention and response.

CLIHHR is the only law school institute in the world that focuses squarely on mass atrocity prevention. It employs a unique and sophisticated approach developed through a decade of research, scholarship and advocacy in the field. CLIHHR’s holistic three-part strategy is to prevent atrocities, protect populations, and rebuild societies during and after crisis.

“We are living in uncertain times – from the humanitarian and global security crises in Syria and Iraq to the continued violence in Darfur and South Sudan,” said Cardozo Law Dean Matthew Diller. “We are proud to continue our tradition of excellence in preparing the next generation of international law professionals while developing solutions to preventing genocide and other atrocity crimes.”

Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg, who helped found the program and directs the Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic, will serve as CLIHHR’s faculty director. Professor Gabor Rona, a renowned scholar in humanitarian law, and Professor C. Patty Blum, an expert in international justice and accountability, join the Institute and Cardozo Law faculty, further expanding course offerings and clinical projects in international humanitarian and criminal law.  

“I am thrilled to lead an excellent team committed to scholarship, instruction and advocacy in international law and atrocity prevention,” said Rosenberg. “Our students will enter the legal profession with the critical skills necessary to confidently tackle complex issues of international law and policy in today’s changing world. The goals are to move students and others away from a reactionary culture to one of prevention by understanding and responding to risk factors and to focus more deeply on developing strategies for entry points for mitigating atrocities.

As part of the Institute, the Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic offers law students the opportunity to make tangible and meaningful change. In the clinic, students represent individual clients seeking asylum in the Refugee Representation Project and partner with organizations to promote human rights and prevent mass atrocities. As Allison O’Brien (’16C) puts it: “The Clinic is a rigorous and rewarding experience for us as students who want to practice human rights law.”

The Institute positions itself at the center of important issues in genocide and mass atrocity prevention by hosting conferences, lectures and symposia; publishing cutting-edge academic and policy scholarship; and engaging with government officials, international and regional organizations, and advocates.  The idea is to partner with scholars, practitioners, and policymakers across multiple disciplines to strengthen laws, norms and institutions toward a world in which “Never Again!” rings true. 

“Appreciating the dark lessons of history without being responsive to the future world violates the memory of the past,” Rosenberg reflected. “Thus, with a profound compassion for the victims of genocide and other mass atrocities we pursue our work with scholarly rigor, passion and commitment.”