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Organized in partnership with Amnesty International, the International Criminal Justice Clinic will study efforts to investigate and prosecute those suspected of committing crimes under international law (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial execution and enforced disappearance) and conduct timely research and advocacy on topical human rights questions.
Students will undertake 12 days of clinical work (one day per week during semester) at Melbourne Law School. At the beginning of the semester, each student will be assigned a legal research project on a topical issue of international justice and human rights that they will work on during and outside clinic time and submit following the end of the semester. Throughout the semester students will also monitor on-going international criminal proceedings (for example at the International Criminal Court) as well as other developments in international criminal justice practice in order to identify emerging human rights issues, in particular relating to fair trial, the rights of victims and witnesses and gender justice. They will prepare rapid response legal analysis briefs on selected emerging issues and draft posts for a new Human Rights in International Justice blog commenting and reflecting on topical and emerging issues in the field.
Seminars will provide an in depth introduction to international criminal justice practice and related human rights issues. Additional guest lectures, including by practitioners in the field, will be organized throughout the semester during clinic days. Skill trainings will also be provided during clinic days on trial monitoring, legal research and analysis of international criminal law and international human rights law, and writing for advocacy. During weekly clinic meetings, students will reflect on developments in the field and their on-going clinical experience.
The work conducted by students will inform Amnesty International’s on-going advocacy, including litigation, to promote human rights compliance in all aspects of international criminal justice practice, including for the rights of all of those involved in proceedings – such as the accused, victims and witnesses – to be fully respected.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who successfully completes this subject will be able to analyse and reflect critically and meaningfully on:
- The practical, interpersonal, technical skills and ethical awareness needed to practice effectively in a team of legal researchers, including in the areas of collaborative work, research, communication and organisation;
- The sources, breadth and effectiveness of the laws for prosecuting those suspected of crimes under international law whilst respecting their rights and the rights of other persons involved in the process.
- The application of human rights in international criminal justice proceedings;
- The role of different actors and parties in ensuring that international criminal justice proceedings are human rights compliant, including the judiciary, the prosecution, the defence, victims’ counsel, states and trial observers (such as NGOs and the media);
- The monitoring of complex criminal proceedings; and
- Techniques for the production of high quality legal briefs and advocacy blogs that analyse and apply international human rights law, international criminal law and other relevant national or international laws.
Upon successful completion of the subject, students will have developed and demonstrated the following skills:
- Applied research skills, including the ability to identify (including through trial monitoring), research, evaluate and synthesise relevant factual and legal issues in the context of a complex and emerging area of law;
- Legal practice skills, including critical legal analysis and writing legal briefs.
- Personal and professional skills, including learning autonomously, being accountable for one’s work, time management and self-reflection on performance;
- Team work skills, including working in small groups to achieve assigned group tasks, communication, office organisation and co-worker collaboration;
- Research and reflection skills, including the ability to engage in high-level analysis and critical reflection, and to develop and articulate clear and credible legal analysis; and
- Advocacy skills, including the ability to develop credible and convincing advocacy for a public audience on complex and often controversial legal issues.
Last updated: 11 February 2021