Events & News

The Kovler Project Against Torture Panel Presentation - on January 24, 2017, Project students and faculty will hold a panel discussion about their experiences and work in the Project, as well as the Project's approaching spring application process and deadline. MORE

Conference Proceedings

International Conference on the Prevention of Torture and Other Ill-Treatment
(February 23, 2009)

(cosponsored with the Association for the Prevention of Torture)

Kovler Project Against Torture
(formerly the UN CAT Project)

WCL's Kovler Project Against Torture is a one-of-a-kind experiential education opportunity for upper-level students to deepen their knowledge of international human rights law and experience firsthand the United Nations Committee against Torture (UN CAT) proceedings in Geneva, Switzerland. The Project was founded at WCL in 2004 as the UN CAT Project and endowed in 2016 as the Kovler Project Against Torture. Thanks to the generous support of the Blum-Kovler Foundation for over a decade, and of Ms. Kelsey Lee Offield in 2016, the Project intensively engages ten students each fall semester in rejecting torture and promoting human rights through legal education.

The Project's application/selection process takes place during the spring semester and is widely advertised. During the fall semester, participating students help prepare for the official UN CAT session in November. The students take a specialized seminar on the prohibition of torture and the universal system, taught by Professor/former UN CAT Chairperson Claudio Grossman and/or Associate Director of Impact Litigation Jennifer de Laurentiis ('92). Students research and synthesize vast materials concerning torture and human rights in pertinent countries, and draft extensive papers identifying potential compliance issues involving the operative treaty (the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment). The 4-credit seminar includes an additional 2-credit option for interested students.

In November, the group travels to Geneva for the UN CAT session, witnessing firsthand the "dialogue" between the Committee and State Party delegations, identifying germane developments and issues, and meeting regularly to strategize and conduct follow-up research. The Project also includes an annual WCL alumni dinner, site visits, and meetings with NGOs while in Geneva. Read feature stories on the 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2016 Projects online.

Following the group's return to WCL, students build upon this unique human rights experience by authoring articles, giving presentations, and participating in other campus and community initiatives to raise awareness and ultimately help eradicate torture around the world.

Inquiries about the Kovler Project Against Torture should be directed to Jennifer de Laurentiis at jdelaurentiis@wcl.american.edu.




The Palais des Nations of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

2015 UN CAT Project participants: 56th session
of the United Nations Committee against Torture

2011 UN CAT Project participants: 47th session
of the United Nations Committee against Torture