Human Rights Litigation

2 March – 12 April 2016 (E06416) | Register for this course (page opens in new window)
Deadline for early registration discount: 1 December 2015
Instructor: Dr. Krassimir Kanev

This e-learning course provides participants with knowledge of the concept, types, venues and strategies of human rights litigation. It focuses on strategic litigation and legal aid both internationally and domestically, and explores a variety of strategies: issue or group oriented litigation, community based services, legal clinics, NGO or law firm resourced actions and others. Participants are familiarised with court ordered structural relief, as well as with conventional victim-centered legal remedies. Non-litigation strategies to maximise the chances of winning cases and to ensure the effective enforcement of decisions too are considered. The course places impact litigation in its social and institutional context exploring issues of its legitimacy, as well as the ethics and accountability of human rights lawyering. In the last part it highlights litigation for the vindication of several groups of substantive rights, including economic and social rights, freedom from torture, equality and asylum. Participants will be provided with examples from various jurisdictions in the world illustrating strategic human rights litigation in practice.

Course structure

This certificate course involves 30 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction with students and instructor, quizzes, a written assignment and webinars, and is offered over a 6-week period. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Participants will do the required reading, prepare individual and group assignments and participate actively in group discussions. The course draws on a variety of sources, including, but not limited to: ERRC/Interights/MPG, Strategic Litigation of Race Discrimination in Europe: From Principles to Practice (Nottingham: Russell Press Ltd., 2004); Richard Wilson, Jennifer Rasmussen, Promoting Justice: A Practical Guide to Human Rights Lawyering (IHRLG, 2001); Southern Africa Litigation Centre, International Treaty Obligations in Human Rights: A Practical Guide (2005); Litigating Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Achievements, Challenges, Strategies (Geneva: COHRE, 2003). The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1: Concept of Strategic Human Rights Litigation
Week 2: Types of Human Rights Litigation Strategies
Week 3: International Litigation – Mechanisms and Remedies
Week 4: Transnational and Domestic Litigation – Mechanisms and Remedies
Week 5: Strategising in Practice
Week 6: Ethics of Human Rights Litigation

About the instructor: Dr. Krassimir Kanev

Krassimir KanevDr. Krassimir Kanev is Chairperson of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. He serves as a board member of a number of human rights organisations, including the Association for the Prevention of Torture and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. Dr. Kanev teaches human rights and sociology of law at Sofia University (Bulgaria) and has taught at several universities in Europe and the USA. He has published on a variety of human rights issues and served as an OSCE and UN expert in trainings of NGOs and government officials in Europe and Central Asia. He has been an HREA e-learning instructor since 2003 for the courses Human Rights Advocacy (in Russian), Human Rights Fact-Finding and Reporting and Protection Against Torture.

Who should apply

The course is particularly intended for legal professionals — lawyers, staff working in legal advice centres, lawyers workings at NGOs. It is assumed that participants are familiar with the relevant human rights standards. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 495 (after 1 December 2015: US$ 595); tuition for auditors: US$ 195 (US $235 after 1 December 2015). Payments can be made online with major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer (additional fee applies) and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

Register for this course (page opens in new window). Early registration and payment deadline: 1 December 2015. However, registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Please be advised that courses generally fill up quickly!

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about HREA’s e-learning courses.