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Business and Human Rights Clinic

Amsterdam Law Clinics

Business and Human Rights Clinic

In the Business and Human Rights Clinic students 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, and analyse corporate activities against among others the existing business and human rights framework to protect, respect and promote. During the clinic students combine theory and practice. They conduct legal research and provide pro bono legal advice to private individuals, non-governmental organizations, and international governmental organizations.

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Working through a human rights based and critical approach

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 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. You get to work in a collaborative manner with individuals, communities and organizations, based on a trust relationship.

Clinical work

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. This provides you with an intensive training on fact-finding, legal writing, and communication skills. 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.

Ludivine Gondouin (BHRC Spring ’20) Master International and European Law
Copyright: Fdr
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 Gondouin, Business and Human Rights Clinic, 2019/2020

Future projects

For the spring semester of 2021/2022 a group of students will work on a project regarding Colombia. This project is part of the long-term cooperation between the BHRC and the Land & Territory Rights clinic of Javeriana University, Bogotá.

Current and prior projects 

For the fall semester 2021-2022, one of the projects students enrolled in the Business and Human Rights Clinic sees to a project in collaboration with the Clínica Jurídica en Derecho y Territorio of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. 

During the fall semester of 2020-2021, the Business and Human Rights Clinic has worked on the following projects:

  • Project A: in this project students have worked on a legal assessment regarding arms exports from Europe to countries engaged in armed conflict situations. Students have analysed national, European and International legislation. In this project, students have worked together with investigative journalists.
  • Project B: this project entailed factual and legal research into the activities of a multinational corporation in Latin America causing environmental damage. Students carried out factual corporate research as well as legal research into the international applicable frameworks. 

SLAPPs Project 

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. A preliminary report was finalized for the clinic’s client in January 2020. An updated and more extensive version is expected by July 2020.

Arms Trade

During two subsequent semesters, students from the Business and Human Rights Clinic have researched for two NGOs 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. Students examined the international, European and national legal framework and provided a legal analysis accompanied by strategic considerations to their clients. 

Examples of additional other cases

In 2019, the Business and Human Rights Clinic assisted two NGOs on a case regarding two Dutch corporations that traded goods derived from the occupied territory of Western-Sahara. The clinic analyzed 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.

Blogposts

Below you will find the blog posts written by the master students of the Business and Human Rights Clinic in the spring semester 2020/2021:

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

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

Contact us

For any questions regarding the Business and Human Rights Clinic, please email us at amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl or contact:

Mr. L. (Linde) Bryk LLM

Faculty of Law

Faculty Office FdR

Requirements and eligibility

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

Other 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.

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 an e-mail to amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl 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