Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Launches Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights

NEW YORK—March 9, 2015—Cardozo Law is pleased to announce the launch of the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR, pronounced “clear”). CLIHHR is a leading global center dedicated to strengthening laws, norms and institutions to prevent mass atrocities and promote human security. Consistent with Cardozo Law’s reputation for its distinguished faculty and innovative programs, CLIHHR offers invaluable opportunities to students in international human rights, humanitarian, refugee and criminal law while contributing to scholarship, policy and advocacy in the field.

The Institute began as the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program in 2005 with unclaimed funds from a Holocaust claims litigation settlement. The Program then became the locus for high-level discussion on Holocaust remembrance and atrocity prevention. Today, the Program has expanded into an Institute to meet the ever-evolving challenges in mass atrocity prevention and response.

CLIHHR is the only law school institute in the world that focuses squarely on mass atrocity prevention. The Institute employs a unique and sophisticated approach developed through a decade of research, scholarship and advocacy in the field. CLIHHR’s holistic three-part strategy is to prevent atrocities, protect populations, and rebuild societies during and after crisis.

“We are living in uncertain times – from the humanitarian and global security crises in Syria and Iraq to the continued violence in Darfur and South Sudan,” said Cardozo Law Dean Matthew Diller. “We are proud to continue our tradition of excellence in preparing the next generation of international law professionals while developing solutions to preventing genocide and other atrocity crimes.” 

Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg, who helped found the Program and directs the Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic, will serve as CLIHHR’s faculty director. Professor Gabor Rona, a renowned scholar in humanitarian law, and Professor C. Patty Blum, an expert in international justice and accountability, join the Institute and Cardozo Law faculty, further expanding course offerings and clinical projects in international humanitarian and criminal law. 

“I am thrilled to lead an excellent team committed to scholarship, instruction and advocacy in international law and atrocity prevention,” said Professor Rosenberg. “Our students will enter the legal profession with the critical skills necessary to confidently tackle complex issues of international law and policy in today’s changing world. The goals are to move students and others away from a reactionary culture to one of prevention by understanding and responding to risk factors and to focus more deeply on developing strategies for entry points for mitigating atrocities.”

As part of the Institute, the Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic offers law students the opportunity to make tangible and meaningful change. In the Clinic, students represent individual clients seeking asylum in the Refugee Representation Project and partner with organizations to promote human rights and prevent mass atrocities. As Allison O’Brien (’16) puts it: “The Clinic is a rigorous and rewarding experience for us as students who want to practice human rights law.”

The Institute positions itself at the center of important issues in genocide and mass atrocity prevention by hosting conferences, lectures and symposia; publishing cutting-edge academic and policy scholarship; and engaging with government officials, international and regional organizations, and advocates.  The idea is to partner with scholars, practitioners, and policymakers across multiple disciplines to strengthen laws, norms and institutions toward a world in which “Never Again!” rings true.

“Appreciating the dark lessons of history without being responsive to the future world violates the memory of the past.” Rosenberg reflected. “Thus, with a profound compassion for the victims of genocide and other mass atrocities we pursue our work with scholarly rigor, passion and commitment.”


Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights

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Upcoming Events

Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights and Fordham Law Center on National Security cordially present

Liberty and Security: A New Normal?

February 26, 2-15

7pm - 8:30pm

Jacob Burns Moot Court Room

Given renewed fears of terrorism driven by the rise of ISIS and their skilled use of social media, how is the continuing conflict over security and liberty evolving? What can we expect in the future as the renewal of the Patriot Act looms and debate over authorizations for the use of force and surveillance come to the floor of Congress?

Is there a new normal?  And if so, what does it mean for civil liberties and for the safety and security of Americans?


Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director, ACLU

Deborah Pearlstein, Associate Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Scott Shane, New York Times


Karen J. Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security at Fordham Law School

This event has been approved for 1.5 transitional/non-transitional New York State CLE credits in the category "Areas of Professional Practice."

To register for CLE credits, please RSVP to

Liberty and Security Today FINAL.pdf

Upcoming Events

The Abolition of War

February 20-21, 2015

Why has war never become a taboo? This topic and others connected to the experience of war will be explored at a two-day symposium at Cardozo School of Law and Rutgers School of Law.

Admission is free and lunch is included both days.

To attend, RSVP to


To see the full list of events, download the event flyer:


Recent Publication

Professor Gabor Rona, Visiting Professor of Law at Cardozo and Director of CLIHHR's Law and Armed Conflict Project, recently published an article entitled "Is There a Way Out of the Non-International Armed Conflict Detention Dilemma," in 91 Int'l L. Stud. 32 (2015).

To read the article: Rona_ILS_2015_02_03.pdf

For more information, please visit:

Recent News

January 13, 2015 - NEW YORK, NY - On January 13, 2015 Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR, pronounced CLEAR) [formerly Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Program] participated in a panel discussion, with 3 other esteemed speakers, entitled, "Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities: International Law and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)." 

Other esteemed speakers included: Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect; Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General for the Prevention of Genocide; and, H.E. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States.

The panel addresses challenges within the existing international legal framework for the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities. The discussion challenged panelists to consider why, nearly a decade after heads of state and government agreed to the principles of R2P, mass atrocities continue across the globe in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and beyond.

More than 75 people attended the two-hour discussion at the New York City Bar Association’s NYC headquarters.

For more information:

For an audio recording of the event:


Op-Ed and Article

Joëlle Fiss, one of the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic's partners, recently published an op-ed in Le Monde  on the Charlie Hebdo attacks as it relates to blasphemy laws. 

Original article in French:

English translation of the article:  Le Monde_Anti-blasphemy laws a tool of repression threatening the entire world_ENG.pdf


Fiss has also recently published an article in Libération entitled, "Lois antiblasphème pour mieux persécuter." 

Original article in French:

English translation of the article:  Libération_Blasphemy Laws to Improve Persecution ENG.pdf


Press Release

Ecuador: Historic Win for Refugee Rights


September 16, 2014 – QUITO, ECUADOR – The Human Rights and Genocide Clinic’s Refugee Representation Project (RRP) celebrated a landmark victory for refugee rights on Friday when Ecuador’s Constitutional Court struck down restrictive provisions of a presidential decree that violated basic rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.  In support of the petitioners’ claims, the RRP submitted an amicus brief with Human Rights Watch last June calling on Ecuador to abide by its obligations under constitutional, international human rights and refugee law. Cardozo law students Julie Geifman (Class of 2013), Sara Levine (class of 2013), Diana Duarte (3L), and Anna Maslyanskaya (Class of 2014) all contributed to the RRP’s brief.

In Decision No. 002-0524, the Court declared Articles 27, 33, and 48 of Presidential Decree 1182 unconstitutional, extending the time for individuals to request asylum from 15 days to 3 months and the time to appeal from 3 to 15 days.  In addition, the Court modified Article 8’s definition of a refugee to include the Cartagena Declaration of 1984’s expanded content, allowing individuals to be recognized as refugees “because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.”

“This is an important and historic win for refugee rights in Ecuador,” said RRP Associate Director Teresa M. Woods.  The Clinic’s Telford Taylor Fellow Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum added: “We are thrilled that our Clinic students were able to contribute to real gains for those fleeing persecution and seeking safety in the region.”  Indeed, under these new changes—and closer to Ecuador’s generous past practices and leadership on refugee rights in Latin America—thousands of refugees arriving in Ecuador from Colombia and elsewhere will have greater access to protections under the law.

The RRP’s support to Asylum Access Ecuador (AAE) and University of San Francisco’s litigation was one of several coordinated, collaborative efforts among these institutions to promote and protect refugee rights in Ecuador. In addition to the brief, for example, a group of Cardozo law student volunteer advocates will again travel to Esmeraldas in northern Ecuador over the winter session this year to work directly with refugees seeking asylum in partnership with AAE. Moreover, the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic plans to continue advocacy efforts toward implementing the Court’s favorable ruling and further advancing refugee rights in the region.  Such efforts fit squarely within the Clinic’s overall “prevention, protection and rebuilding” framework toward the promotion of human rights and prevention of mass atrocities globally.

For additional press, see:


Press Release

Ecuador: Amicus Brief on Refugee Rights


June 16, 2014 – NEW YORK, NY – Ecuador should revoke a presidential decree that includes provisions that violate basic rights of refugees provided for by international law, The Refugee Representation Project of the Cardozo Human Rights and Genocide Clinic said today. Working within the clinic’s frame of prevention, protection, and rebuilding, the clinic combines different areas of expertise within human rights law. Refugee issues in Ecuador provided the clinic with an opportunity to effectively utilize this model.

On May 30, 2012, President Rafael Correa adopted Presidential Decree 1182 to regulate asylum procedures in Ecuador, the Latin American country with the largest number of registered refugees – approximately 55,000 in September 2013. On June 16, 2014, the Refugee Representation Project of the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law submitted a joint amicus with Human Rights Watch before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, arguing that the decree violates Ecuador’s international legal obligations protecting refugees and asylum-seekers. Cardozo law students Julie Geifman (Class of 2013), Sara Levine (class of 2013), Diana Duarte (class of 2015), and Anna Maslyanskaya (Class of 2014) all contributed to the amicus.

“Decree 1182 provisions violate an asylum seeker’s due process rights and jeopardize these and other fundamental rights—including the right to seek asylum… and the principle of non-refoulement,” the brief says.

The brief argues that the presidential decree imposes short, inflexible procedural time limits that make it difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to apply for refugee status and, if necessary, appeal adverse status determinations. The decree also sets a high admissibility standard for applications to be considered for refugee status determination; allows officials broad power to exclude asylum seekers from the asylum procedure; and grants overly broad powers to authorities to revoke refugee status. Twelve Cardozo law students travelled to Esmeraldas province in the north of Ecuador and worked directly with refugees impacted by the decree over winter break in partnership with Asylum Access Ecuador.[1] One of the appeals the students brought in a particularly complicated case was overturned immediately – something that is unprecedented in the Office of the Refugee Directorate in Ecuador.

These provisions violate international standards in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, in the 1981 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, and guidelines on basic safeguards adopted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The Refugee Representation Project said.

The brief was submitted in a case brought before the Constitutional Court in 2012 by the nongovernmental organization Asylum Access Ecuador and the human rights clinic of the San Francisco de Quito University. Both institutions challenged the constitutionality of several articles of the decree. The Human Rights and Genocide Clinic will continue to engage in advocacy efforts to round out the third prong of its prevention, protection, and rebuilding framework as it awaits the decision of the Constitutional Court.

*Read the Human Rights Watch release

*Read the Amicus Brief in English 

*Read the Amicus Brief in Spanish

[1] Sara Barlowe (class of 2016), Steven Bravo (class of 2014), Rikki Dascal (class of 2016), Afrodite Fountas (class of 2015), Anna Kaminsky (class of 2016), Ali O’Brien (class of 2016), Adam Rave (class of 2014), Gaudys Sanclemente (class of 2014), Johanny Santana (class of 2015), Sarah Segal (class of 2016), Anna Shwedel (class of 2015), Pamela Takefman (class of 2014)



Recent Publication

Compendium Details Blasphemy Laws Challenging Human Rights Worldwide

New York City - Human Rights First and the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic of Cardozo Law School today released the first publicly available compendium to outline blasphemy laws from around the world. The compilation is a useful tool for human rights defenders, governments, civil society leaders and legal experts working to combat abuses created by blasphemy laws that permit the prosecution of individuals for defaming or insulting religions.

“This first-of-its-kind compendium gives us a better understanding of the legal landscape of blasphemy and how the sweeping language of these laws often poses grave human rights concerns, and heightens social and political instability in many countries,” said Human Rights First’s Joelle Fiss. “This resource will provide valuable insight to those working to tackle human rights abuses rooted in allegations of blasphemy.”

According to Fiss, blasphemy laws and the international concept of prohibiting “defamation of religions” are inconsistent with universal human rights standards that protect groups and individuals from discrimination based on race, religion, gender, political opinion and other criteria. Blasphemy laws often foster intolerance through governmental restrictions on freedom of expression, thought, and religion, resulting in devastating consequences for religious minorities and stifling political dissent. Accusations of blasphemy in the Islamic world and beyond have sparked assaults, murders and mob attacks, and have resulted in arrests and arbitrary detentions. 

The research included in the compendium released today is divided into two separate documents:

1.   Laws that specifically reference the sanctioning of insult, blasphemy or defamation of religion. These “blasphemy laws” in the narrow sense seek to punish individuals for offending, insulting, or denigrating religious doctrines, deities, symbols or the sacred, and more broadly, for wounding or outraging religious feelings. These laws use precise reference to the prohibition of insulting religion.

2.    Related laws that do not specifically reference blasphemy, but can be used to prosecute for that offence or are misused for the purpose of punishing minority communities or political dissidents. Although the laws do not specifically address blasphemy or the insult to religion, they have still been used by the state to punish individuals who have allegedly committed blasphemy.  In many cases, governments provide for a state religion and have laws that prohibit the “violation of public morals,” which may equate to offending religious values.  

For more information, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at or 212-845-5269.


Report Launch

"A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect"

A Report by Cardozo Law School's Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program

On October 7, 2013, the Cardozo Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program, with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, launched a Report & Policy Brief in New York entitled “A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect.” The Report seeks to advance the implementation of the R2P principle by elaborating on how one of its key elements – prevention – can be operationalized by international society.

The Report—based upon the results of a multi-staged research study led by Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg with significant input from Ekkehard Strauss—clarifies and addresses the normative concerns embedded within R2P through: 1) systematically developing a common R2P standard (the “Standard”) to assess incoming information related to R2P; 2) coherently developing guiding principles for the application of the Standard; and 3) rigorously assessing the benefits of, and challenges to, adopting a common standard.  Ultimately, the Report concludes that the development of this common Standard will:

  • Promote the full continuum of R2P action. The standard is adapted specifically to address R2P’s normative preventive concerns in addition to its late-stage concerns.

  • Enhance legitimacy. A unified common standard adds a level of transparency and credibility to R2P;

  • Reduce uncertainty. The standard will reduce the depth and duration of debate centering on early to mid-term application of R2P.

The Report sets forth the application standard, along with the research methodology, development and construction of the Standard and the guiding principles for operationalization. The researchers pursued academic rigor, while at the same time consulting with relevant policymakers at all levels of international society, in order to ground the articulated standard in real world policy and practice. The standard and related principles are intended to be utilized by States, international and regional organizations, civil society, academia and other actors called upon to determine the relevance of applying an R2P framework to the real risk of a given situation.

We encourage all interested stakeholders to make active use of this Report. And please contact us with your feedback at


Download full Report  A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect_Full Report.pdf

Download Policy Brief  A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect_Policy Brief.pdf


Report Launch

A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect

October 7, 2013 from 6:00pm to 8:15pm

Room 9204, 9th Floor, CUNY Graduate Center 

Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Program at Cardozo Law School
Ms. Jette Michelsen, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations
Commentator: Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
Moderator: Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Recent Publication

Eric Freedman and Richard Weisberg, The Haennig-Nordmann Papers: Two Lawyers in Occupied France, New York, Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2013.