For nearly two decades, the Center for Civil and Human Rights has trained human rights lawyers who go on to serve in a wide range of positions in international bodies. For Pablo Saavedra Alessandri, LL.M.’96, the training he received at CCHR led to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he now serves as Executive Secretary.
The Inter-American Court was established in 1969 through the American Convention on Human Rights, and has jurisdiction to decide contentious proceedings against the American States which have accepted its jurisdiction and give advisory opinions on the interpretation of the American Convention. The Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have an extensive cooperation agreement, facilitating a wide range of collaborations between the two institutions.
The special relationship between the two institutions benefits both the IAC and our LL.M. students. Thanks to a new program in 2013, Notre Dame law students and faculty will collaborate to provide pro bono assistance to the Court’s work through legal research on specific issues or preparation of Amicus Curiae. Notre Dame Law School will thereby contribute high quality research to the Court’s work in deciding leading human rights cases. With this new program, Notre Dame Law School is one of the few academic institutions with this special relationship to the Court.
At the same time, the Court’s work is central to the training of our LL.M. students, as they explore and analyze Court decisions in the course of their academic studies at Notre Dame Law School. Every year, a Notre Dame LL.M. graduate is able to spend a one-year clerkship with the Court in San Jose, Costa Rica; every summer, the Court welcomes a qualified Notre Dame law student for a summer internship. The CCHR provides generous stipends to its students to support these opportunities.
The framework agreement between the two institutions contemplates a wide range of other activities around scholarship and practice, such as co-edited research publications and co-sponsorship of conferences and courses. Additionally, The Court and CCHR exchange personnel for short-term visits, thereby enriching the theoretical and real-world perspectives of Notre Dame law students, academicians, and legal officers of the Court.