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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.

In the Business and Human Rights Clinic students combine theory and practice. Students conduct legal research and provide pro bono legal advice to private individuals, non-governmental organizations, and international governmental organizations.

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 Business and Human Rights 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 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 University staff. This provides students 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.

Our Clinical Programme

Experiences from former clinic students

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 (BHRC Spring ’20) Master International and European Law
Suzan Salama (BHRC Spring '20) Master European Union Law
Copyright: Prive
Taking the Amsterdam Law Clinic course has been one of the best decisions I have taken so far: not only I got the chance to learn by doing - working with professionals in the real world and, therefore, gaining hands-on expertise - but it literally opened my mind to whole new legal fields and arguments, which have been extensively taught and discussed during the lectures. Suzan Salama (BHRC Spring '20) Master European Union Law

Future projects

For the second semester of 2020-2021, one of the projects students enrolled in the Business and Human Rights Clinic can work on sees to a collaboration with the WWF. Students will explore ways to situate human rights protection into a broader context of ecological integrity. Particular attention will be paid to the emerging transnational development ‘Rights of Nature’, wherein legal personality and enforceable rights are recognized for an increasing number of natural entities, including rivers, mountains and forests.  

Should you have a particular interest in taking part in this project, then please state so in your application for the spring semester.

Current and prior projects and publications

During the first semester (2020-2021), the Business and Human Rights Clinic is working on the following projects:

  • Project A: in this project students will work on a legal assessment regarding arms exports from Europe to countries engaged in armed conflict situations. Students will analyse national, European and International legislation. In this project, students will work together with investigative journalists.
  • Project B: factual and legal research into the activities of a multinational corporation in Latin America causing environmental damage. Students will have to carry out factual corporate research as well as legal research into the international applicable frameworks. Students with at least a B2-level understanding of Spanish are specifically encouraged to apply.

Past Projects

SLAPPs Project 

For the past year, 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 analyzing 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.

News

Read the latest news about the Amsterdam Law Clinics, the Amsterdam Law Practice and the Amsterdam Law Hub.

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

Director Business and Human Rights Clinic

How to apply

Please submit your application, in English, by sending an email to amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl addressed to Ms. Rosa Lokin-Möhrlein, LL.M, indicating in the subject-line ‘Application Amsterdam Law Clinics - [your name]’. Your application must include:

  • Your CV or resume (max. 2 pages);
  • An overview of relevant courses and grades from courses you have taken at the University of Amsterdam or other universities;
  • A sample of 1 - 5 pages (maximum 10) of your own writing in Dutch or English related to your studies;
  • An analysis responding to the questions below, in a Word document that has your signature and indicating place and date:
    • Why are you interested in taking part in the AmsterdamLaw Clinics, and more specifically in the clinics you have listed as your preferences? (max 400 words)
    • In your opinion, what is one of the most impresssive public interest law case you have come across that has been dealt with in the courts and why is this case of such importance? What would you have done differently? (max. 400 words)
  • Indication of preferences. The Amsterdam Law Clinics strive to ensure that as many studenst as possible are given the opportunity to participate in a clinic during their Master. We cannot ensure admission to a particular clinic and the application and selection process for the clinics is competitive. We recommend students to list in the e-mail that accompanies their application at least 3 clinics ranked in order of interest.

If selected for the clinic of first choice, selection is binding.

Deadline for application:

  • First semester: 19 June 2020
  • Second semester: 16 November 2020

Depending on the amount of cases and projects, Clinics may decide to issue an additional call for applications at the end of December 2020. We advise students who are interested and who missed the deadline to keep themselves informed on these potential additional calls through the website of the Amsterdam Law Clinics.   

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 Fall '19:

  • Julia Leon Gonzalez
  • Viktor Radev
  • Alexandr Biagioni

Former Business and Human Rights students Spring '20:

  • Hilde Baarsma
  • Suzan Salama
  • Ludivine Gondouin
  • Lisa Perridon