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Business and Human Rights Clinic

Last modified on 29-07-2022
Through the Amsterdam Law clinics, Master's students get the opportunity to work on cases of public interest on behalf of clients.
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The Business and Human Rights Clinic seeks to contribute to cases and projects that advance human rights, to address the consequences of the global economy on human rights (specifically on economic and social rights) and to engage in corporate accountability efforts that address the human rights impact of business activities.

In the Business and Human Rights Clinic, students are given the opportunity to work on cases and projects that address the impact the globalized economy may have, or has had, on human rights. In the current global economy, many corporations operate transnationally. As a consequence, clinic projects are cross boundary: they often touch on different jurisdictions and require an interdisciplinary approach. 

The Business and Human Rights Clinic’s projects see to complex legal questions with a public interest character. Students analyse corporate activities against, among others, the existing business and human rights framework to protect, respect and promote.

 In the clinic, a critical approach is taken towards the law and the current economic system, addressing the power balance between corporations and workers, communities and the environment. Students get to work in a collaborative manner with individuals, communities and organizations, based on a trust relationship.

Clinical work

During the clinic, you will combine theory and practice. You will conduct legal research and provide pro bono legal advice to private individuals, non-governmental organizations, and international governmental organizations. Clinical work consists of projects undertaken for, amongst others, clients and non-governmental organizations. Students work in teams of 3-5 students under close supervision of staff members. Part of the clinical work are regular meetings between the student, the supervisor and the clients. Emphasis is placed on professionalism, high quality work, teamwork, and respect for confidentiality.

My clinic experience at the UVA taught me practical skills such as drafting a project methodology with a timeline, organizational skills like managing short-term deadlines with long-term objectives as well as communication skills by receiving and providing feedback to my teammates, all very useful for my future career.
Ludivine GondouinBusiness and Human Rights Clinic, 2019/2020

Prior projects 

  • Since 2021, students have worked on projects in conjunction with the Clínica Jurídica en Derecho y Territorio of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. One of these projects entailed factual and legal research into the activities of a multinational corporation in Latin America causing environmental damage. Another involved researching the legal responsibility of a multinational for partial responsibility in the commission of war crimes.
  •  Research for a trade union into the application of labour laws to unfair practices in companies' supply chains.
  • Researching  the possibilities of legally challenging arms exports to countries engaged in armed conflict and involved in the commission of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. In this project students worked together with investigative journalists.
  • In the academic year 2019-2020, students from the Business and Human Rights Clinic have been conducting a multi-jurisdictional research on the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) in Europe. SLAPPs are used by companies or private individuals to sue public watchdogs as a means of legal intimidation. For this project, students have been conducting numerous interviews with lawyers, activists and civil society organizations throughout Europe, as well as analysing the applicable legal framework. 
  • The assisting of two NGOs on a case regarding two Dutch corporations that traded goods derived from the occupied territory of Western-Sahara. The clinic analysed the legal implications of the trade. To provide a comprehensive legal analysis the students researched the law on occupied territories, provisions of International Humanitarian Law, Dutch civil procedural law and EU consumer protection laws.

Publications:

Post-sale services in the arms trade: overlooked and underregulated

State actors in the post-sale arms industry: Are the regulated doing the regulating?

Opportunity for internship at the Asser Institute 

The Asser InstituteExternal link offers students who are enrolled in the Business and Human Rights Clinic the opportunity to intern at the Institute. The internship could be combined with thesis writing. Asser will assess Business and Human Rights Clinic enrollment as an asset in the selection process for the internships. Internships start each year in February and enrollment at the University during the internship is required. Credits can be obtained if certain conditions are met. Read more about these conditions.  

Contact us

For any questions regarding the Business and Human Rights Clinic, please email usExternal link or contact Linde BrykExternal link

Requirements, eligibility and application

The Business and Human Rights Clinic is in principle open for all Master's students of the Amsterdam Law School.

Further requirements are:

  • You are available at least 10 hours per week 
  • You have a strong work ethic, excellent communication and English-writing skills, and a genuine interest in business and human rights and human rights law.

Applications for the Business and Human Rights Clinic semester 1 academic year 2022/2023 are still possible with regards to two projects in relation to Dutch Law. Students with a background in Dutch law are thus encouraged to apply. One project will see to Big Tech and Human Rights, the other project to the possibilities to pursue legal avenues to prevent health damages caused by a particular industry in the Netherlands and to obtain compensation for damages suffered. The deadline for applications is 4 September 23:59hrs.

Check out the specifics on how to apply

Contact former clinic students

If you're interested in more hands-on information about the clinic and experiences from former Business and Human Rights Clinic students, you can contact any of the following former students. Send us an e-mailExternal link and we will provide you with the relevant contact information.

Former Business and Human Rights Clinic students

2019-2020
2020-2021
Julia Leon Gonzalez
Ludivine Guyot
Viktor Radev
Marie Favier
Alexandr Biagioni
Perrine Lafrechoux
Hilde Baarsma
Charley Nieuwesteeg
Suzan Salama
Sophie van Dongen
Ludivine Gondouin
Miriam Heipertz
Lisa Perridon

You can also find more information in the Course CatalogueExternal link.