Summer School in Human Rights Litigation

June 07 to June 11, 2021
application deadline
February 21, 2020

The Open Society Justice Initiative and Hertie School


For further information and to apply, please visit the Hertie School website.

The Open Society Justice Initiative and Hertie School of Governance 2021 Summer School in Human Rights Litigation will be held in Berlin from June 7 to 11.

The summer school provides a unique opportunity for human rights professionals to build on their experience and to develop their skills to successfully bring cases to the regional human rights systems and the UN treaty bodies, and to use those cases to achieve practical change. The curriculum will combine presentations, case studies, exercises, and discussion groups with preparatory work and further reading to ensure full maximum benefit for those attending the course. Participants will be invited to provide information on their work and those concrete examples will help shape discussion.

Additional course information and instructions for applying can be found on the Hertie School's application portal: The application period is now closed. Please check back in 2021 for updated information on the 2022 program. 

This program is co-organised by the Hertie School's Centre for Fundamental Rights.

Eligibility Criteria

Participants need to be practicing lawyers with some experience in human rights litigation and should ideally have two to five years of experience in human rights practice. Participants will be required to submit examples of cases and issues that they are or have been involved in. Instruction will be in English. Bursaries towards expenses, including travel, are available where the need can be demonstrated.

Purpose and Priorities

The course encourages participants to approach human rights litigation strategically, viewing litigating a human rights case as one step in the process of achieving social change. It includes modules that examine the steps involved in strategic litigation, such as case selection, client care, and forum choice. It also uses case studies to explore how to build a strong evidential record in support of the case, how to develop campaigning and advocacy to raise awareness of the issues involved, and how to implement a successful judgment. Other presentations will focus on the challenges of drafting legal petitions dealing with human rights claims and dealing with the ethical problems that arise in human rights cases.

The curriculum will cover a range of human rights tribunals, such as the African, Inter-American, and European regional bodies, as well as the most frequently used United Nations treaty bodies. The course will also allow participants to choose specialist seminars to examine key issues in their field; in past years, this has included torture and the right to life, discrimination, freedom of information and expression, violations in the context of migration, and rights upon arrest.

The summer school faculty consists of practitioners from the Justice Initiative and its human rights litigation partners, combining both an academic analysis and a practical assessment of different human rights situations faced by lawyers and activists around the world.


The summer school is not open for applications for the 2021 program. Please check back at the end of 2021 for information on applications for the 2022 program. Additional course information and instructions for applications can be found via the online application module

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