International Human Rights Center

Rooted in LMU’s tradition of social justice, academic freedom, personal integrity and professional ethics, the mission of the International Human Rights Center (IHRC) is to achieve universal respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights for everyone.

WHO

Director

The IHCR was founded in 2012 by Professor Cesare P.R. Romano. Professor Romano is an internationally renowned expert of the law and procedure of international adjudicative bodies and a human rights scholar, with an extensive publication and practice record. You can find Professor Romano’s profile and curriculum on the school’s website, Wikipedia and his own personal website.

Some of the latest relevant publications of Prof. Romano are:

Students

During academic year 2020-2021, the following students worked at the IHRC.

  • Faraz Shahlaei (JSD candidate)
  • Alfonso Nava (LLM 2020)
  • Dalanee Hester (JD 2021)
  • Nicoline Cu (JD 2021)
  • Arianna Allen (JD 2021)
  • Kristina Kousherian (JD 2021)
  • Justin Small (JD 2022)
  • Gabriela Perez (JD 2022)
  • Adam Kurland (JD 2022)
  • Laura Rodi (JD 2022)
  • Eden Teferi (JD 2022)

WHAT

The IHRC engages both in advocacy and litigation before global and regional international human rights bodies. Students participate in the activities of the IHRC by enrolling in its practicum.

Litigation

The IHRC uses strategically international and regional human rights adjudicative bodies to advance international human rights law. It provides victims of human rights violations and the legal organizations representing them exceptional pro bono legal expertise. It gives students of the law school a unique practical experience to gain critical knowledge and skills for effective and successful legal advocacy on behalf of victims of human rights abuses.

In less than a decade, the IHRC has participated in the litigation of about two dozen of cases before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and treaty bodies of the United Nations (e.g., Human Rights Committee; Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Committee on the Rights of the Child). Many of these led to landmark decisions on issues ranging from advanced topics, such as scientific research or the right to organize and participate in referenda, to core human rights issues, such as rights of refugees and death penalty.

Recently, the IHRC, together with the Henry J. Leir Institute of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, submitted two new cases to UN human rights treaty bodies.

The first one was submitted in the fall of 2020 to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on behalf of 42 children who were killed or injured in northern Syria in the fall of 2019. It is one of the first cases brought to the CRC raising the question of the human rights of children during armed conflicts.

The second one was submitted in the spring of 2021 to the Human Rights Committee on behalf of Yuliya Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov v. Russia.  In 2010, Yuliya Stepanova, an Olympic runner, and Vitaly Stepanov, an agent of the Russian anti-doping agency, blew the whistle on the Russian doping program. The case is the first time State-sponsored doping is presented and argued as violation of human rights before and international body.

Another recent example of activities before international adjudicative bodies, or in their support, is the work IHRC students did to assist the work of the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission of the Seychelles, a national body created to investigate complaints of alleged human rights violations committed in the archipelago in relation to the 1977 coup.

Advocacy

The IHRC is a frequent participant in the process of review of States’ compliance with international human rights obligations. Over the years, students working at the IHRC have prepared “parallel reports” to State official reports on issues ranging from the right to benefit from progress in science and technology, academic freedom, right to culture and freedom of religion, to prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, excessive use of force by police, death penalty, prisoners’ rights.

The two most recent parallel reports were prepared to assist the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the formulation of the List of Issues during its 68th Pre-Sessional Working Group (08 – 12 March 2021). The first one, prepared with Science for Democracy, focused on Hong Kong and academic freedom. The second one, prepared with the International Campaign for Tibet, focuses on the economic, social and cultural rights of Tibetans, including representation in governmental bodies, right to culture, and specifically the use of Tibetan language, and right of religion. The IHRC students presented orally both reports to the Committee during an online hearing.

Another example of work done to advocate for the rights of particularly vulnerable groups is the Manual on International Human Rights Protection for People Living with HIV/AIDS, a multi-year research and writing effort of the students of the IHRC, which has been widely distributed worldwide, and particularly in developing countries.

In 2018, Prof. Romano co-founded Science for Democracy, a Brussels-based NGO, whose goal is to promote the human right to science (i.e. the right to benefit from progress in science and technology) and the rights of science (i.e. the right of scientists to carry our research without undue interference). ICHR students participate in the activities of Science for Democracy under the guidance of Prof. Romano.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights Project

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights Project ("IACHR Project") is a special project of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review. It seeks to increase access to decisions rendered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in order to assist students, practitioners, and scholars in strengthening human rights law in the Americas. To this end, the IACHR Project produces and publishes detailed summaries of cases rendered by the Inter-American Court. Summaries include descriptions of cases’ facts, procedural history, merits, and states’ compliance with the Inter-American Court’s judgment. Summaries are published online in the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review and the project’s database. Prof. Romano supervises the IACHR Project.

Students interested in joining the IACHR Project should join the International Law Review first and express interest in working on the project.

HOW

Students interested in joining the IHRC must enroll in the following courses:

These courses are also recommended: