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International Humanitarian Law Clinic

The International Humanitarian Law Clinic works directly with international tribunals, militaries, non-government organizations, and other entities to enhance protections during wartime and ensure accountability for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

IHL Clinic

Under the instruction and supervision of clinic director Clinical Professor of Law Laurie Blank, IHL Clinic students work on the front lines—researching ways to hold perpetrators accountable, working on detention, targeting and other issues in contemporary conflict, and partnering with the US military on strategies for enhanced education and training in the law of armed conflict. These students learn more than the practice of law—they are working in the United States and abroad to minimize the devastating consequences of war for soldiers and civilians.


Our Work

Promoting the Law of War: Armed conflict in today’s society poses significant challenges for effective implementation of international humanitarian law because of complex military operations and counterterrorism campaigns. The clinic engages with militaries and civilians to address difficult legal questions, such as the application of international humanitarian law to cyberwarfare or the legal obligations governing the treatment, trial, and release of detainees.

Enforcement and Accountability: The IHL Clinic provides direct assistance to organizations working to protect civilians in conflict areas, prevent atrocities, and hold perpetrators of atrocities accountable. Students work in real time with international criminal tribunals and human rights organizations, helping to prosecute or defend individuals accused of war crimes, raise public awareness of atrocities, and ensure the protection of civilians and combatants in conflict regions around the world.

Training and Education: Effective, comprehensive training and education is critical for the protection of civilians and soldiers and effective mission accomplishment. In addition to working directly with the US military on education and training in the law of armed conflict, the clinic partners with the US Institute of Peace to research and analyze military training programs in countries around the world. The IHL Clinic also works with the International Committee of the Red Cross to develop supplements for faculty teaching international humanitarian law.

IHL Clinic International Exchange Program: The IHL Clinic partners with the Leiden University International Humanitarian Law Clinic, the Interdisciplinary Center-Herzliya International Criminal and International Humanitarian Law Clinic, and the Roma Tré International Humanitarian Law Clinic in a dynamic and ground-breaking international exchange program.

Through the International Humanitarian Law Clinic International Exchange Program, students and faculty from the four clinics participate in rotating annual visits to share information, engage directly with local experts and practitioners, and build networks of international lawyers for the future.


Academic Requirements

The International Humanitarian Law Clinic is open to second- and third-year law students and LLM students. Students work directly with attorneys at one or more organizations and, under the supervision of the clinic director, engage in a wide range of complex and sophisticated legal research and writing.

For three hours of credit, students work a minimum of 150 hours on their assigned clinic projects. Weekly or biweekly classroom sessions address fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. Students make two short presentations about their clinic work during class time. Final grades are based on written work product, class participation, and class presentations

Prerequisites: All students enrolling in the IHL Clinic must have taken or be concurrently taking one of the following classes:

  • International Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Human Rights
  • International Criminal Law
  • National Security Law
  • Counterterrorism Law

Past experience or coursework in international law is desirable but not required.

Application: Apply for the IHL Clinic on Symplicity »  As part of the application, you will be required to upload the following documents:

  • Resume
  • Writing sample
  • Personal statement
  • Law school transcript

Final grades in the IHL Clinic are based on:

  • written work product,
  • class participation
  • class presentations