Fordham Law School’s efforts to promote social justice through international law and human rights are being strengthened and expanded thanks to a new center.
The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice will serve as an umbrella organization for existing law school initiatives, including the 10-year-old Joseph R. Crowley Program in International Human Rights, through which law students participate in human rights fact-finding missions. In addition, the annual James E. Tolan Human Rights Fellowship will be administered through the center.
It also will sponsor a range of new initiatives dealing with everything from human rights advocacy to facilitating collaboration among law students, scholars and human rights activists in the United States and abroad.
“The Leitner Center consolidates much of what we were already doing and also serves as a platform for expanding our work in a systematic way,” said Tracy Higgins, Leitner Family Professor of International Human Rights and co-director of the center.
Officially launched at a ceremony on Sept. 19 at the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus, the center has established several projects, including the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic, which is designed to train a new generation of human rights lawyers and to inspire practical, results-oriented human rights work throughout the world.
Additionally, the center is organizing a colloquium to begin in the spring of 2008, which will bring to Fordham leading scholars of international law and political theory from around the world.
“We have created a new human rights clinic, three new faculty-led initiatives and internships for students,” Higgins said. “We also intend to invite visiting scholars to be affiliated with the center. As an umbrella organization, the new center can help to manage, publicize, promote and fund raise around these various initiatives.”
The center’s new projects include:
• The Sustainable Development Legal Initiative, which serves as a focal point for activities in the fields of human rights and sustainable development.
• The International Law and the Constitution Initiative, which provides research and advocacy opportunities for Fordham law students.
• The Center for International Security and Humanitarian Law, which analyzes effective regimes for the legal regulation of armed conflicts.
In addition, the center awards a human rights prize each year to an activist who assisted the Crowley Program during the prior year’s fact-finding mission. The center selected the first recipient last fall: Daphne Gondwe, president of the Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi. She received $1,000 and was flown to New York City to meet with representatives from international nongovernmental organizations.