Course - Law


Recommended Courses:

International Human Rights, International Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples, or Public International Law


This course provides students the opportunity for in depth learning about and first hand experience with the United Nations human rights system, by engaging students in the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a position that is currently held by Professor James Anaya.  Students in the course work under the supervision of Professor Anaya and Adjunct Professor Leonardo Alvarado to assist with all aspects of the work of the Special Rapporteur, thereby becoming directly involved in live human rights cases and issues being handled by the UN's principal mechanism to address problems faced by indigenous peoples across the globe.


Acting under the authority of the UN Human Rights Council, which is UN's main human rights body, the Special Rapporteur communicates directly with governments about specific cases of alleged human rights violations that are submitted to him by indigenous peoples and others, conducts assessments of country-wide situations, provides technical assistance to promote good practices, and develops studies on issues of cross-cutting concern to indigenous peoples. He reports his findings and activities on an annual basis to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and to the UN General Assembly in New York, and he participates in the meetings of other relevant UN institutions, in particular the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. 


Students in the course are assigned specific projects that involve researching cases or issues, drafting communications to governments, or developing official reports.  Students may also have the opportunity to attend meetings at the United Nations or other venues that are related to the work of the Special Rapporteur.


Information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is available at:



Readings will be from web sites and materials to be identified or compiled by the instructors.

Course Format

After an introductory meeting at the beginning of the semester, each student will be assigned to a project. Students will work on their projects individually or in groups under the supervision of the instructors. The projects, along with assigned readings, will be the basis of discussion when the workshop meets during the semester. The instructors will hold additional meetings with individual students or select groups of students regarding their respective assignments.  

Written Assignments

Students will complete their assignments in the form of research memoranda or communications, press statements, or other documents to be sent to governments, indigenous organizations, and other stakeholders. Students may opt to produce a substantial paper in association with their assigned tasks.  

Type of Exam


Basis for grading

Grades will be assigned on the basis of performance on written assignments.


Additional Comments

Students must complete a minimum of 100 hours of work, including attendance at workshop meetings, for two academic credits, or 150 hours, for three academic credits

Students doing a substantial paper must complete a minimum of 150 hours, including work on the paper, for three credits. With the instructor's permission, students may continue work on their projects through the spring semester for additional credit.

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