Human rights, Law

The course is organised in co-operation with the Mental Disability Advocacy Center

Course date

16 July - 27 July, 2012
30 March, 2012
Course Director(s): 

Oliver Lewis

Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Peter Bartlett

School of Law, University of Nottingham, UK

Anna Lawson

Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK

Lycette Nelson

Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary

Eva Szeli

Arizona State University, Phoenix; New York Law School, USA

This two-week applied legal practice course aims to strengthen the professional development of participants. Participants should be practising attorneys (members of the bar), lawyers holding a law degree and working on cases, or non-lawyers working in legal advocacy organisations, or in the human rights field.

We encourage people with disabilities to apply; especially welcome are participants with experience of intellectual or psychosocial disabilities. The course focuses on experiences from Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and India. While focusing on real-life application of rights, the course will also explore interdisciplinary perspectives from sociology, social policy, and psychology. The course allows participants to spend two weeks with MDAC staff and associated faculty members, with a view to participants preparing test cases to advance domestic (and international) human rights jurisprudence.

Together, the faculty members have experience in human rights advocacy, teaching and programming in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, North America and India, and are sensitive to – and knowledgeable about – the specific needs and problems of these regions from where the participants will come.

The course strengthens participants’ knowledge about international law, in particular the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol. The course objectives are to heighten participants’ awareness of this international law (and to understand some of the tensions between this Convention and other legal instruments); to sharpen lawyering skills with relation to the rights of people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities; and to utilize strategic litigation as an advocacy tool.

The course uses innovative teaching methods and encourages participants to reflect on law in practice, and how lawyers can impact policy-making at the domestic level to ensure the implementation of international human rights law. The methods include a site visit to a social care institution, discussions with people with intellectual disabilities living in the community, and interviews with people with psychosocial disabilities. In the classroom, the methods include group preparations and presentations, practice of courtroom advocacy skills, tutor presentations, and discussions. The course culminates with a moot court for which participants prepare in teams throughout the two weeks.

2010 course participants share their Summer University experience