"Our program at Cardozo, which emphasizes an understanding of history as a 21st century challenge to build a better world, has become the model for many others. We encourage a deeper understanding of the worst moment in history so that the generations we train will never need to study any similar tragedy again."
- Richard Weisberg, Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law and Founding Director, Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies
Established in 2003, the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies is one of the first of its kind at any law school in the United States. Initially funded by a Holocaust claims settlement award, the program is dedicated to the memory of all victims of the Holocaust, and strives to illuminate the past while acting on behalf of the victims of genocide and other human rights violations wherever they are found. The program mission is to engage in legal education, scholarly research and publication, and advocacy on issues related to the Holocaust, genocide prevention, and international human rights.
In Fall 2011, an asylum and refugee law component was added to this extensive body of work giving students in the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic the opportunity to engage directly with survivors of violence and torture and to look at forced migration issues through the lens of genocide prevention. This unique perspective has enhanced the student experience in engaging with human rights. It has empowered the law school community as students have had enormous success receiving asylum grants in all of the cases that they represented. It will also enrich the field of human rights scholarship overall by creating new points of intersection in the literature around genocide and mass atrocity prevention, forced migration, asylum and refugee law, and statelessness prevention.
Among the many distinctive characteristics and activities that make the Cardozo Program a vital addition to the law school and the human rights community are the following:
- Develops and conducts programs of empirical data gathering in relation to the Holocaust, genocide, and other extreme human rights abuses seeking to present policy options to relevant actors.
- Encourages and supports research, teaching, and practical experience in genocide prevention, human rights, and the Holocaust. It offers courses, sponsors conferences and symposia, and supports visiting scholars and summer internships in international human rights.
- Trains legal professionals to respect and further the rights of individuals and to minimize any recurrences of the circumstances that can lead to human rights abuses, including genocide.
- Offers clinics in Holocaust Claims Restitution and Human Rights and Genocide Prevention.
- Takes a multidisciplinary approach to Holocaust and human rights issues—one that blends theory and practice and incorporates the humanities, history, and religious studies.
With an emphasis on research productivity in all its endeavors, the Program publicizes its work and seeks links to institutions and organizations that share its purposes and goals.
The program is under the leadership of Director Sheri P. Rosenberg, aided by Founding Director Richard Weisberg. It receives guidance from a distinguished advisory board, assembled from among leading national and international lawyers, scholars, and professionals in the field of international human rights.