Human Rights Lawyers are known to provide legal counsel to victims of human rights violations around the world.
This article gives a clear definition of what human rights lawyers do and some of the world best human rights lawyers.
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Human Rights Definition ?
According To Wikipedia, Human rights are moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law.
They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights “to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being” and which are “inherent in all human beings”, regardless of their age, ethnic origin, location, language, religion, ethnicity, or any other status.
They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone.
They are regarded as requiring empathy and the rule of law and imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others, and it is generally considered that they should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances.
Who Are Human Rights Lawyers ?
Human rights lawyer” refers to any lawyer who provides legal counsel to victims of human rights violations, regardless of membership in a professional association.
These types of lawyers carry out a professional defence of human rights. Their function deserves protection as the right to legal assistance is a key principle of the right to a fair trial.
To guarantee fair trial rights, governments must avoid interfering with the rights of lawyers to represent the clients of their choice and to work on the issues they choose.
They must ensure human rights lawyers have the same level of access and possibility to communicate in confidence with their clients as any other lawyers.
What Type Of Cases Do Human Rights Lawyers Have?
Human Rights Lawyers are at the forefront to tackle human rights violations around the world. They take on cases that concern the inherent dignity of their clients.
They protect the rights of vulnerable populations, marginalised groups, women, children, indigenous peoples, refugees, LGBTI communities and others.
Working as a human rights lawyer means advocating for people who have suffered from great injustices.
Human Rights Lawyers hold states, companies and belligerent groups to account after they committed human rights violations or abuses.
How To Become A Human Rights Lawyers And Skills Needed ?
According To Humanrightscareer, Human Rights Lawyers engage in a multitude of tasks that include the drafting of important legal documents, performing research on legal cases, negotiating difficult settlements and arguing human rights cases in court.
They require critical and analytical thinking skills, the ability to communicate eloquently and the ability to effectively argue for a case.
Human Rights Lawyers need a Juris Doctor (J.D.) as academic qualification and they should be precise, persuasive and possess exquisite knowledge of relevant laws and legal codes in global, regional and local settings. Examples of important skills as human rights lawyer are:
Eloquence: Human rights lawyers are effective communicators.
Resilience: As human rights lawyer you will be exposed to cases that are emotionally draining. Knowing how you can strengthen your own resilience will help you do a better job.
Persuasiveness: Human rights lawyers need to be persuasive to win cases.
Becoming a human rights lawyer requires years of dedication. While the exact path to become a human rights lawyer might vary from country to country, the general road is similar everywhere.
Human rights lawyers need a profound legal education until a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or an equivalent qualification before they can advocate the most sensitive cases, where people’s lives and dignity is at stake.
How To Become A Human Rights Lawyer In 3 Steps:
1. Research A Law School.
Before you start out, take a step back and ask yourself: Why do you want to become a human rights lawyer? What causes are most important to you? Which human rights violations inspire you to take action? If you are eager to make a positive difference in people’s lives instead of maxing out your monthly salary, becoming a human rights lawyer might be a great fit for you.
2. Obtain An Undergraduate Law Degree
The first concrete step in becoming a human rights lawyer is to earn the required academic qualifications including a bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctor.
During your undergraduate years there are plenty of ways to develop your skills and knowledge in order to become a human rights lawyer.
You can get involved with a local NGOs such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, your may want to help at a refugee home or you might want to focus your energy in learning one of the official UN languages to expand where in the world you can work and with whom.
3. Become A Juris Law Doctor.
A Juris Doctor degree is an academic credential verifying the completion of a three-year law school program.
Every school has specific requirements and credits. Today, many law schools offer full-time or part-time degrees to accommodate different schedules.
Also during your studies there are plenty of ways to gain practical experience and deepen your understanding of the work of human rights lawyers.
Top 10 Most Famous Human Rights Lawyers.
In this list comes with international human rights lawyers, famous female human rights lawyers, civil rights lawyers in the world etc…
• Amal Clooney
Amal Clooney is a British-Lebanese barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights.
Her clients include: Nobel Prize laureate Maria Ressa; the former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed; Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition; the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko; Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy; and Nobel Prize laureate Nadia Murad.
She is the co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice with her husband, George Clooney.
• Fatou Bensouda
Fatou Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer and former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
She served as Prosecutor from June 2012 to June 2021, after having served as a Deputy Prosecutor in charge of the Prosecutions Division of the ICC from 2004 to 2012.
Before that she was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of The Gambia from 1998 to 2000.
She has also held positions as a legal adviser and a trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
• Kimberly Chongyon Motley
Kimberley Chongyon Motley is an African Korean American international human rights and civil rights attorney from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is an activist, author, and former Mrs. Wisconsin-America 2004.
Motley is the first foreign attorney to practice in Afghanistan since 2008 and is considered one of the most effective International Human Rights Attorneys and Defense Attorneys operating in Afghanistan.
While Motley’s international human rights work began in Afghanistan she also represents a wide variety of high profile in other countries as well.
Her clients include Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, Matthew Rosenberg New York Times Journalist in his expulsion from Afghanistan, Niloofar Rahmani Afghanistan’s first female pilot, and Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado Machado where Motley was arrested for representing him.
• Wang Quanzhang
Wang Quanzhang is a Chinese human rights lawyer from Wulian County, Shandong. He was arrested in August 2015 as part of the “709 crackdown” on human rights lawyers instigated by General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping, and after being held incommunicado for three years, he was put on trial for subversion of state power in December 2018.
• Benjamin Crump
Benjamin Crump is an American attorney who specializes in civil rights and catastrophic personal injury cases such as wrongful death lawsuits.
His practice has focused on cases such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and George Floyd, the people poisoned during the Flint water crisis, and the plaintiffs behind the 2019 Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit alleging the company’s talcum powder product led to ovarian cancer diagnoses.
• Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991.
Marshall was the Court’s first African-American justice. Prior to his judicial service, he successfully argued several cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education.
• John Buris
John Buris is an American civil rights attorney, based in Oakland, California, known for his work in police brutality cases representing plaintiffs. The John Burris law firm practices employment, criminal defense, DUI, personal injury, and landlord tenant law.
John Burris practice grew notably when he represented Rodney King in his civil rights lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and won $3.8 million against the LAPD.
Since then, Burris has represented plaintiffs in a number of high-profile lawsuits against police departments across the state of California including the “Oakland Riders” case which settled for $10.9 million where a gang of Oakland officers were found to be planting evidence on citizens, which caused the federal government to investigate and oversee the Oakland Police Department to this day.
• Vemon Jordan
Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. was an American business executive and civil rights activist who worked for various civil rights movement organizations before becoming a close advisor to President Bill Clinton. Jordan grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated in 1957 from DePauw University.
• Janai Nelson
Janai Nelson is an American lawyer, who currently serves as the Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She will become the organization’s 8th President and Director-Counsel in the spring of 2022.
• John Doar
John Doar was an American lawyer and senior counsel with the law firm Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York City.
During the administrations of presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, he served first as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 1961 to 1965, and then as head of the division from 1965 until 1967.
He led the government’s response to events such as the admission and protection of James Meredith, the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi, as well as the evolving response to the civil rights movement promoting integration and voter registration in the South.
Additionally, in 1973–74, he served as the lead special counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry staff during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon.