Human Rights House Foundation


Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyers

The Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyers (EHREL) is a project under the Human Rights House Network program "International Law in Advocacy" prepared and implemented in cooperation with Human Rights House Foundation's partner organizations.

The project aims to increase capacity of local Human Rights Houses and their member and partner organizations, human rights (HR) defenders and HR lawyers to provide better protection to victims of HR violations and to HR defenders at risk.

The project builds on the results of the Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyer project implemented since 2009 by the Human Rights House Network (HRHN) in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia (2009-2011), Moldova, Russia and Ukraine and further deepens the HR lawyers' knowledge in the field of international HR law via:

  1. Capacity building via ongoing online workshops for the already trained cohort of some 100 lawyers, on-demand in-depth seminars in each country on the practical aspects of specific human rights issues relevant for participating countries, partners and HRHs, as well as practical activities of project alumni.
  2. Building capacity among local partners for local ownership of and responsibility for the project and cross-border cooperation within the framework of HRHs and HRHN.
  3. Online knowledge and information sharing, networking and exchange of best practices.
  4. Online training and face-to face introductory seminars for a new intake of lawyers from participating countries (25 from each) in how to use international HR law in daily litigations and in other HR related activities in their legal systems.
  5. Cooperation with international organizations, Bar Associations and university legal clinics.
  6. Documenting cases on endangered HR lawyers.
  7. Reporting and evaluation

Specific objectives
Curriculum of the distance course
First stage: theoretical background, international standards and human rights protection mechanisms
Second stage: protection of human rights at the national level and compensation for damage resulting from the violation of human rights
Training of lawyers
Capacity building
Information and awareness raising
Network building
Project Efficiency: recognition by international organizations and professional societies

The project aims to increase capacity of HRHs, HR defenders and HR lawyers to provide better protection to victims of HR violations and to HR defenders at risk. It will increase local ownership, transparency and cross-border cooperation and exchange of best practices.

The project has the following specific objectives:

  1. To enhance competence of lawyers in HR law and provide needed expertise to HR defenders nationally;
  2. To enable HR defenders, including lawyers, to use innovative methods in HR education and protection;
  3. To ensure higher quality protection to victims of HR violations and repressions.

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Curriculum of the distance course

International law is a dynamic branch of law which is constantly developing and changing. Many protection mechanisms that would have been unthinkable ten or twenty years ago, are available now. For instance, the citizens of the countries of the former USSR are now able to lodge complaints to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee. At the same time international criminal justice is being actively formed. In this situation the knowledge of international law and human rights is not just a sign of professionalism, but an absolute necessity for a good lawyer.

The program does not aim to provide answers to all questions relating to the protection of human rights. The main objective of the project is to familiarize participants with basic concepts and approaches in the field of international human rights law and to provide a platform for discussion. Moreover, the courses on the implementation of international standards in the national legal system and national human rights protection mechanisms provide a logical link between international standards and the possibility of their application in national courts. It is worth noting that the course material is based on actual cases of graduates of the Project who cooperated with Human Rights House Network.

Course developers and moderators are well-known experts and practitioners in the field of human rights as well as employees of reputable international organizations. The course program is certified by the European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) as a program of professional development for which academic credit system can be used. The program also underwent external assessments by the leading organization in the field of distance human rights education - Human Rights Education Association. Each successfully completed course gives 2 academic credit on the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

Education is a multifaceted and ongoing process. We want to emphasize that after the completion of the core courses, students can continue to use an online platform, to participate in elective courses and other events. Extensive course materials can always be more deeply explored by the students themselves.

The program is divided into two parts. The first part covers the theoretical foundations of human rights, highlights international standards of certain rights and ways to protect them at the international level. The emphasis is done on freedom from torture, liberty and security of person and the right to a fair trial. Subsequently, participants are invited to take an elective course which covers those human rights that are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Covenants, that were not covered in the main unit: freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to property and the prohibition of discrimination. This part of the program is also focused on the procedural aspects of the protection of human rights within the UN framework and the rules for filing complaints with the European Court of Human Rights.

In the second part effective mechanisms and ways of human rights protection, both national and international are considered. This stage starts with the course on ways of implementation of international human rights standards at the national level. The next course examines human rights mechanisms that exist in the states, their common aspects and features in specific countries. The program ends with the course on compensation for damage caused by human rights violation. A course on international humanitarian law is offered as an optional course. It highlights most important international standards that should be followed during interstate and internal armed conflicts.

Before the start of the training minor changes can be made in the curriculum that do not affect the overall concept and principles of the participants' distance learning. Applicants who successfully pass the selection to participate in training, will be informed about it in advance.

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First stage: theory, international standards and mechanisms of human rights protection

1. Human rights: history and doctrine

2. International standards of certain human rights

3. Protection of human rights within the UN.  

4. The system of human rights protection under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Elective course: protection of other human rights. Elective course will not be evaluated and does not affect the rating of participants.  However, each participant will have to choose one of the rights provided in this course, and evaluate it on his or her own.

Each course will be evaluated on the basis of grades for the test, short writing assignment and activity during the course. To successfully complete the training students will need to pass all the courses and get a certain number of points, which is summed up in the overall final grade.

During the training regional and international conferences will be organized. The time and venue of the events will be announced additionally.

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Second stage: human rights protection at the national level and compensation for damage resulting from any human rights violation

1. Implementation of international human rights standards

2.  National mechanisms for protecting human rights  

3. Compensation for damage 

Elective course. International humanitarian law 

After the completion of the second phase of the program the best participants will be invited to an international conference in Vilnius (Lithuania). The conference will address current problems of human rights in the countries participating in the project. During the conference the results of the project will be summarized and diplomas will be awarded to the participants of the program.

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Training of lawyers:

  • Conducting of regional seminars in each of the 4 countries which provide lawyers with an introduction to the training program;
  • Implementing of a 1 year Internet-based distance training, which gives the lawyers access to study materials, consultations with experts and evaluations of their home assignments. The lawyers will also present assignments on implementation and individual complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights and will engage in elaborating the cases of strategic litigation;
  • Conducting of a final international conference and countries conferences which will provide selected lawyers with an advance training and will create a platform for a strong professional network;
  • Organizing of follow-up seminars in each of the countries which will encourage lawyers to apply international human rights standards in their daily practice and maintain stable network of cooperation with experts and human rights defenders.

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Capacity building

  • Recruiting the project team;
  • Conducting two working meetings for regional coordinators, managers and the Steering Committee;
  • Conducting training for regional coordinators, managers and national experts on Moodle;
  • Drafting curriculum with a reading list

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Information and awareness raising

  • Developing of the Internet-based distance learning training model for human rights education for lawyers supplemented by on-site training provided in form of seminars and international conferences which can be used in other countries in need;
  • Professionalizing and maintaining of an information electronic platform E-library which will provide lawyers with sufficient access to study materials, full-text articles and other related materials on human rights standards and the relevant case-law through compilation of official texts of international human rights standards in Russian;
  • Maintaining of an online distance learning platform located at Moodle EHU which allows lawyers to access study materials and to take part in on-line consultations with international experts discussing the issues relevant to the content of the lectures.

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Network building

  • Creating and maintaining of online communication forums on Moodle EHU and E-library platforms which provide lawyers with a possibility to connect to one another and draw on each other’s knowledge, contacts and experience in human rights protection;
  • Facilitating of online consultations among lawyers and international experts which allow them to discuss issues relevant to application of human rights standards, arising during and after the implementation of the project;
  • Conducting of regional follow-up activities for the project alumni in each of the 5 countries which focus on actual implementation of the knowledge and skills received by lawyers during the training enable them to share the knowledge and expertise with other lawyers and human rights defenders and engage in a dialogue on the application of human rights standards in their respective countries. The implementation of the regional follow-up activities based on national implementation plans (NIP) is undertaken by the respective regional partners: Azerbaijan: Legal education society and Human Rights House in Azerbaijan; Belarus: Belarusian Human Rights House; Moldova: Human Rights Embassy and Memoria; Russia: Russian Research Centre for Human Rights; Ukraine: Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

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Project efficiency: recognition by international organizations, professional societies

Partners, national teams and participants have repeatedly stressed that the recognition of the Program by professional communities of lawyers (attorneys) and international organizations would help to ensure better protection of lawyers (attorneys) in their human rights activities, enhance their and their work authority.

On the other hand, such recognition would be evidence on the effectiveness of the chosen form of training and the type of co-operation between human rights defenders and lawyers (attorneys).

During 2012-2013 actions in this direction have been undertaken and continued:

  • Consultation and start of cooperation with the Council of Europe (a trip to Strasbourg of Belarusian lawyers (attorneys) in 2012, preparation of the participation of the Council of Europe in the final conference, organisation of a trip in 2013, preparation and launch of a course on admissibility at the project web-site)
  • OSCE (training for students and graduates of EHREL on trial monitoring in February 2013 for Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, in May 2013 - for the Caucasus)
  • Bar Associations (consultations with ABA on distance courses, organisation of a general conference for lawyers and others, recognition of Project diplomas as acceptable and sufficient for the professional development of lawyers).

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Result 1. At least 100 lawyers have gained knowledge in how to use international HR law in daily litigation.

Indicators: Number of participants who complete the full cycle of distance training; number of participants in online thematic workshops

Result 2. HR organizations in participating countries receive quality legal aid and expertise from lawyers trained in HR law.

Indicators: Number of HR lawyers cooperating with HR organizations or otherwise providing HR legal aid; number of HR legal consultations provided by project participants; number of cases taken up by project participants and alumni, in which they use an HR-based approach

Result 3. Lawyers are engaged in advocacy work of the local human rights organizations.

Indicators: Number of admissible complaints with international bodies submitted by or with participation of project alumni; number of strategic litigation cases initiated by participants during and after the project; Number of articles and publications about the participants' HR engagement

Result 4. The online library is enriched with national materials, case law and other relevant information on implementation of HR standards in practice of lawyers and partner organizations.

Indicators: Number of materials submitted to the online library during the project

Result 5. At least 9 new joint projects or initiatives have been developed, supported or implemented by HR organizations in cooperation with trained lawyers.

Indicators: Number of joint projects or other initiatives launched or implemented with participation of project participants and alumni and local HRHs and their partner organizations

Result 6. At least 60% of the HR lawyers participating in online training are cooperating with HR NGOs on concrete cases to promote and protect fundamental HRs.

Indicators: Number of HR lawyers cooperating with HR organizations or otherwise providing HR legal aid

Result 7. Lawyers start to contribute to the development of the national legal doctrine and case law by writing articles and legal analyses.

Indicators: Number of strategic litigation cases initiated by participants during and after the project; Number of articles and publications about the participants' HR engagement.

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Thank you to the project donors:

  • Matra/KAP Small Embassy Projects Programme, Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw
  • National Endowment for Democracy, USA
  • Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • The German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • The Nordic Council of Minister's Support Programme for NGOs in the Baltic Sea Region
  • Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Polish Aid Programme

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