The Human Rights Center promotes research on pressing real-world challenges, prepares future lawyers with the commitment and skills to defend human rights, and partners with civil society to impact law, policy, and practice.
One of the first of its kind, the Center was founded by Professor David Weissbrodt in 1988 to support the quickly emerging human rights community in Minnesota and to serve as an academic setting for the study and dissemination of human rights law, policy and procedures.
A pioneer in the field, the Center has long enjoyed an international reputation for its rigorous research, dedicated teaching mission and meaningful support to the human rights community locally, nationally and globally. Almost three decades later, the Center is part of what is now a diverse and rich landscape of human rights work and opportunities at the Law School, wider University and the Twin Cities.
The Human Rights Center is led by Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and Amanda Lyons (’09) and works closely with the Law School’s core human rights and international law faculty. Areas of human rights research and work at the Law School span transitional justice, national security, international humanitarian law, business and human rights, international criminal law, gender and women’s human rights, rights of non-citizens, environmental justice, poverty and inequality, rule of law, and the history of international human rights law.
The Center supports law students with programming on campus, field placements and summer fellowships, opportunities for applied research, participation in national conferences and competitions, and academic and professional advising in the field of human rights and international law.
Serving as a hub for the Law School’s human rights activities, the Center also connects J.D and LL.M students to the dynamic human rights community across the broader University. The University of Minnesota is a nationally and internationally recognized “Human Rights University” with research, curriculum, and outreach work across numerous disciplines and degree programs.