Client-Centered Human Rights Advocacy


Haynes, Dina Francesca. 2006. “Client-Centered Human Rights Advocacy.” Clinical Law Review 13: 379-430.

Author: Dina Francesca Haynes


Human rights advocates are at risk of essentializing and re-victimizing the beneficiaries of their own human rights advocacy, or so critics argue. This article looks at human rights advocacy and the merits of client-centered lawyering as opposed to cause lawyering in the human rights context. In this article, the author both acknowledges the validity of and responds to arguments put forward by human rights critics, in which they admonish human rights activists that they are at risk of Western Imperialism in both the selection of their causes and the strategies they use to move their advocacy forward. The author describes client-centered human rights\advocacy, particularly as it is being taught and practiced in law school clinics. The author responds to the critics by asking them to consider whether human rights advocacy as practiced when centered in the real needs of a real client, or "client-centered human rights advocacy" would escape some or all of their criticism. Finally, in acknowledging those parts of the human rights critiques with which the author agrees, she concludes that human rights practitioners, and particularly human rights clinicians, must be rigorously reflective, in particular when taking on particular human rights cases, and must consider the benefits of centering their advocacy in the goals and needs of a real client, as opposed to an issue.

Topics: Justice, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2006

© 2019 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at