Civil Society Actors

The websites of NGOs and law school clinics can be very useful for keeping tabs on news, current scholarship, advocacy campaigns and ongoing litigation.  The following list is by no means exhaustive, but includes some of the most active and relevant entities.

NGOs with an International or Regional Focus

  • With its headquarters in London and offices around the world, Amnesty International is an advocacy and monitoring organization which relies in part on its large membership of individuals for the success of its campaigns to protect human rights around the world.  Sign up for updates and newsletters here.
  • The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) is headquartered in Washington, DC with several other offices in Latin America, and focuses uniquely on international human rights litigation (and related promotion and training) of alleged human rights violations by OAS Member States.
  • FIDH (the International Federation for Human Rights) is a federation of 155 organizations around the world, with its own board and staff, and thematic priorities, which it promotes through investigation, advocacy and capacity building.
  • Human Rights First uses reporting, litigation, campaigning and legislative advocacy to promote human rights throughout the world, from its offices in Washington, DC and New York.  Its principal programs focus on crimes against humanity, discrimination, human rights defenders, refugees, and security. Sign up for updates and newsletters here.
  • Human Rights Watch uses principally investigation, reporting and advocacy to raise awareness of human rights abuses around the globe.  Human Rights Watch also hosts an annual International Film Festival.  See their numerous publications here.
  • The International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) is a London-based organization that principally uses litigation and legal advice to help repair and prevent human rights violations in Europe, Africa and the Commonwealth.  Its principal thematic programs focus on economic and social rights, equality, and security and the rule of law.  Useful resources include a Legal Resource Library, publications, and case law databases.
  • The International Commission of Jurists is a Geneva-based organization, with autonomous national sections and affiliate organizations in 62 countries.  The ICJ utilizes legal analysis and litigation tools to promote human rights protection through observance of the rule of law.  Its main programs focus on security and the rule of law, judges and lawyers, international economic relations, and the development of international standards and mechanisms.  See their publications, and Legal Resource Center.
  • Reprieve is a London-based organization focused on the human rights of prisoners, with primary focus on death row inmates and prisoners of the war on terror, around the world.  Reprieve primarily uses litigation and investigation.
  • Redress is a London-based organization focused on the rights of torture victims and accountability for torture, through legal assistance and advocacy, internationally.  See their country reports, thematic reports, and amicus curiae briefs and other case submissions.
  • TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) is a Geneva-based organization which focuses on massive human rights violations and international criminal law, and is an excellent resource for keeping tabs developments in international criminal law and monitoring individual trials and truth and reconciliation commissions around the globe.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, while not an NGO, has a mandate—based in international law—to protect and assist detainees and individuals affected by conflict, and generally promote international humanitarian law, and has operations in nearly 80 countries and regional delegations around the world (in addition to national societies with which it may also work).

U.S.-Based NGOs with Primarily Domestic Focus / Activity

The following NGOs engage in domestic (and, sometimes, international) litigation for the protection of civil rights and civil liberties within the U.S.  Some also use U.S. federal law to help secure civil liability for human rights violations committed abroad (by U.S. or foreign government agents, or by corporations).

U.S. Law School Clinical Programs and Other Academic Institutions