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Pro Bono Projects

IHRA partners with non-governmental organizations and international organizations to give students the opportunity to conduct human rights-related research worldwide. Our current projects and activities span five continents, working on a range of human rights issues.

Please contact us at ​ if you would like to partner with IHRA.

IHRA Partnerships and Research Projects




Current Projects:

Police Training | U.S. Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program

The client for this project is a small division of the DOJ called ICITAP - International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, which creates and provides training programs for police departments in foreign countries.  The purpose of this project is to develop a curriculum for a 2 day (14-16 hour) practicum course on Human Rights and Ethics for foreign police departments.  The difference between this course and already existing courses on human rights is the practicum component.  Far beyond presenting the basics of human rights norms, this course needs to include scenarios, exercises and discussion modules that will explore the trickier questions of how to apply human rights norms to the practical situations that police frequently face, including riots, protests, post-terrorism investigations, etc. 

Contact Pinky Mehta at for more information.


Land Rights | Namati, International

Currently accepting new volunteers.

Namati’s Community Land Protection Program supports communities to use national legislation and legal procedures to protect their land claims. The Program uses an integrated community land documentation process that secures legal protections, strengthens local land governance, and leverages the process to create positive intra-community change. As part of its Community Land Protection strategy, Namati is compiling a database of national court cases involving dispossession and disenfranchisement of community lands. The Casebase will be a resource for community land rights advocates and lawyers crafting litigation strategies to fight community land dispossession. IHRA will partner with Namati to help grow the Community Land Rights Casebase.

For a primer on land rights check out: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - a human rights analysis of land-related issues 

Interested Penn volunteers, please contact Natasha Arnpriester at for more information. 


Global Health | Lawyers Collective, India

Currently accepting new volunteers.

Lawyers Collective, headed by former Special Rapporteur to the UN on health Anand Grover, promotes international health issues. Students will help the organization in analyzing domestic, regional, and international judicial decisions on the right to health for publication to a database. The database will be used by organizations worldwide as an informational and advocacy tool. Students will also have the opportunity to put what they’ve learned in their research on a particular jurisdiction’s right to health into a final product that the organization will publish on its website. 

Contact Aaron Jordan at for more information. 


Education | Voices on the Border, El Salvador

Currently accepting new volunteers.

El Salvador, like many nations, guarantees universal education in its constitution. Unfortunately, it consistently fails to live up to this standard. Penn’s IHRA team, working with an organization called Voices on the Border, would be writing a brief about how the government has illegally shirked  this important duty and how the situation can be remedied.

Contact Aaron Jordan at for more information.


Freedom of Movement | International Refugee Rights Initiative, Uganda

NOT currently accepting new volunteers at this time.
Many individuals who have fled from unfair conditions and treatment in their home countries are confronted with new human rights violations once they have arrived in a host country’s refugee camp. This semester our collaboration with the International Refugee Rights Initiative will focus primarily on freedom of movement. Our work will be integral to a global pilot program focused on legalizing and ensuring country compliance with the right to freedom of movement for refugees. The project will analyze international law and a variety of countries’ domestic laws, policies, and practice. It will look at countries around the world that have both successfully and unsuccessfully handled the refugee situation. The end project will be used to urge stakeholders (UNHCR, regional governments, policymakers) to adjust in-country policies, laws and practice that are in contravention with with the right to freedom of movement for refugees, enabling refugees to harness this right and live a more fulfilling and sustainable life.
Countries of Focus: Burundi, Bulgaria, Ghana, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, and Zambia

Contact Natasha Arnpriester at for more information. 


Sexual Violence & Women’s Rights | International Bar Association, Equality Now, The Guardian, United States | |

Not currently accepting new volunteers at this time.

Piloted by the International Bar Association Criminal Law and Family Law Committees, Equality Now, an organization that advocates for the human rights of women and girls, and the Guardian, one of the leading UK newspapers, have joined forces to compile a legal report on global rape laws, including best practice guidelines, which will be presented at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March 2015. This project will be used to advocate for increased global emphasis on the protection of vulnerable women and girls. It will also be a tool for community advocates and lawyers crafting litigation strategies to better represent their clients who have been victimized by sexual violence and to adjudicate their rights. 

Contact Natasha Arnpriester at for more information. 

Past IHRA Partnerships and Research Projects

Comparative Analysis of Marital Property Rights: This project partners with Swayam, a Kolkata based non-profit organization committed to ending violence against women. It is estimated that around 2/3 of all married women in India are victims of domestic violence. Laws governing marital property rights have a profound impact upon women facing violence in their homes. In India, most property is held by male members of the household and upon filing for divorce, women are not entitled to a share of these assets. This legal framework functionally holds many women hostage, binding them to violent relationships by forcing them to rely upon their husbands for economic support. This project, a comparative study of marital property rights in the U.S., U.K., India and Australia, aims at developing a resource for advocates in India committed to challenging the current marital property regime. IHRA volunteers will work in teams to research the laws and judgments governing marital property rights in each country and compile these findings into a comparative report that will be published by Swayam.

Global Health Rights Project: Promoting the Right to Health Through Litigation. The Global Health Rights Project aims to make health rights litigation from around the world universally accessible for civil society, NGOs, lawyers, and governments seeking to promote legal accountability for the right to health. The project is being developed in order to facilitate the development of the right to health under law across the globe under international and regional mechanisms and domestic legal systems. A part of the project includes developing databases of all relevant domestic, regional, and international court judgments from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, South Asia, and East Asia. The summaries will explain the issues arising and the decision of the court on each issue in the case. These summaries will be made freely available to advocates throughout the world through a website hosted by the Lawyers Collective (based in New Delhi, India) and collaborators. IHRA volunteers will work in teams or individually to summarize cases relating to the right to health originating in English speaking and non-English speaking countries.

South Africa, National Health Insurance and SECTION27: SECTION27 is a public interest law center based in Johannesburg, South Africa that seeks to influence, develop, and use the law to protect, promote, and advance human rights. SECTION27’s activities include research, advocacy, and legal action to change the socio-economic conditions that undermine human dignity and development, prevent poor people from reaching their full potential, and lead to the spread of diseases that have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable and marginalized people. South Africa is currently in the very beginning phases of reforming their health care system by introducing National Health Insurance. NHI is meant to be in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on universal health care access - the government will serve as a single-payer in the health care system, with everyone earning above a certain income paying into a national fund that will be used to purchase health care services for all South Africans. There is a long way to go in this process, which will begin in 2012 with a five-year pilot period and then be rolled out over another seven years. SECTION27 has asked IHRA to conduct comparative research on health care reform and legal mechanisms in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Researchers on this project will look at mechanisms to ensure institutional accountability, decisions about what medical services to include in the basic package of services, methods to assure quality assurance, and more.

IHRA Past Partnerships

DeJusticia: Conflict Analysis and Reparations in Colombia

Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC): Tracking Civilian Casualty Data

Rule of Law Institute

The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)