Human rights, Law

The course is organised in co-operation with the Mental Disability Advocacy Center and supported by the Open Society Foundations.

Course date

4 July - 15 July, 2011
Application deadline:
15 February, 2011
Course Director(s): 

Oliver Lewis

Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Peter Bartlett

School of Law, University of Nottingham, UK

Gabor Gombos

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 students, who are lawyers and other legal advocates in the field of in mental health and disability rights law from Central and Eastern Europe and further afield. While being an applied course exploring rights in real life, the course will introduce interdisciplinary perspectives from social sciences, politics, social work and clinical sciences.

The four faculty members are all internationally recognized and outstanding scholars and activists in the field. Together, the faculty members have experience of human rights advocacy, teaching and programming in central and eastern Europe, Africa and North America and are sensitive to and knowledgeable about the specific needs and problems of these regions from where the participants will come.

The course focuses on the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - an instrument which entered into force in 2008. Using this piece of law, the course objectives are to heighten students' awareness of the legislative and policy implications of their mental health lawyering, and an awareness of the range of ways they can engage with reforms in their home countries; to advance their skills to effectively represent people with mental health disabilities in courtroom and other settings; to develop students' understanding and knowledge of the issues in such a way as to facilitate further postgraduate study.

The course uses innovative teaching methods and encourages students to reflect on law in practice, and how lawyers can impact upon policy-making at the domestic level to ensure the implementation of international human rights law. The methods include a site visit to a mental health institution, a site visit to a community-based service for people with mental health disabilities, and interviews with people with mental health disabilities. In the classroom, the methods include group preparations and presentations, practice of courtroom advocacy skills, tutor presentations, discussions, and the course culminates with a moot court.