IHRC undertakes a broad range of work to protect fundamental freedoms, particularly civil and political rights reflected in international human rights law, such as freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (“other ill-treatment”). Our projects in this area often involve advocacy before UN bodies. Among other legal work, students have drafted submissions to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances on disappearances in Mexico, promoted the right to privacy in country submissions to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, and developed a guide for civil society organizations on litigating national identity systems’ human rights implications.
Meet the Clinicians who work in this area:
IHRC is helping to lead efforts to create a new global treaty through the UN General Assembly to delegitimize and ultimately end international trade in law enforcement equipment, devices, and weapons used for torture or other ill-treatment. Although international law provides a right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, international trade in law enforcement equipment is largely unregulated. Working in partnership with Amnesty International, the Center for Victims of Torture, and the Omega Research Foundation, IHRC is supporting an emerging global network of civil society organizations calling for a treaty. To support ongoing advocacy, IHRC and its partners have published guidance on the essential elements of a Torture-Free Trade Treaty and seen our views reflected in authoritative UN reports.
IHRC has supported families seeking truth and accountability for enforced disappearances in Mexico. Working with Guerreras en Busca de Nuevos Tesoros, the Clinic prepared to submit communications to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances regarding individuals who were disappeared in Nayarit, Mexico. The goals of the project were twofold: assisting families in their ongoing struggles for information and justice, while also developing existing legal frameworks to better address the lived reality of enforced disappearances.
In the Spring 2023 semester, the IHRC co-authored a paper with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) examining evidentiary challenges in enforced disappearances cases, which was presented at a symposium on the evidentiary regimes of the UN Treaty Bodies. It considers how the UN Committee should determine if a disappearance perpetrated by non-State actors constitutes an enforced disappearance, and will be published in the Spring 2024 edition of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.