Law 589 - Strategies for Successful Human Rights Advocacy

Daniel Vannucchi

Daniel Vannucchi

Lecturer in Law
Course Description:

Human Rights advocacy can be made (or broken) by the way a problem analysis is conducted, or in the way smart and achievable objectives are identified, targets are selected, or messages are developed. By understanding these different steps of strategy development and applying them to a real-life human rights issue, students will understand how to effectively protect or strengthen human rights norms and principles. As well as strategy planning, the course will also discuss complementary disciplines such as impact assessment and foresight techniques as tools to strengthen advocacy plans.

The course will apply a multidisciplinary lens to discussions and analysis, reflecting how strategies are developed by NGOs and social movements. In particular, this will provide students with an insight into how human rights law must work in partnership with other disciplines – such as political science, communications, activism, sociology, public policy or creative arts – in order to win campaigns. Students will be able to discuss and navigate key dilemmas faced by human rights practitioners in the intersection between law and advocacy: how can we meaningfully engage the public without undermining key human rights law principles? How can we change underlying social norms to secure support for the expansion of human rights laws and policies?
The course will be 9 weeks long, with students debating, researching, and developing the different components of an advocacy strategy throughout the length of the course.

By the end of the course, students will have developed a plan for an advocacy campaign (preferably global in nature) on a specific human rights issue from the key thematic priorities of the Promise Institute. While the course will focus on international human rights law as its substantive framework, no previous background or course in human rights law is required and the course will be open to graduate students from other disciplines if not fully subscribed with law students.  

Through a mixture of seminars, group work and external speakers, students will not only gain an overview of successful and inspiring advocacy campaigns of the past but will also gain the skills necessary to develop their own advocacy campaign when working within domestic, international NGOs or social movements.

Course Learning Outcomes:

  • An understanding of the human rights framework and how to conduct a strategic human rights legal analysis
  • Ability to translate technical legal terms and concepts into public-facing language and campaigns
  • Ability to discern how legal strategies and efforts fit into a big picture organizing strategy
  • Familiarity with non-litigation strategies for addressing rights violations and when those strategies may be appropriate to deploy
  • Ease of use of tools for evaluating impact and strategy planning

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Daniel Vannucchi 21S 589 SEM 1 TR 9:00 AM - 10:25 AM 2.0 No No
  Course meets 2/16/21 - 4/29/21. This course may shift to hybrid instruction (i.e., students have the option of participating in-person or remotely) at some time during the spring semester. Early drop deadline: 2/22/2021.