2016 UN CAT Project (Now Kovler Project Against Torture)

In November 2016, ten students from the UN CAT Project traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to experience firsthand the United Nations Committee against Torture's 59th session proceedings and deepen their knowledge of international human rights law. Generous gifts from the Kovler Foundation and from Ms. Kelsey Lee Offield supported the UN CAT Project's students, Vanessa Drummond Alvarez, Chase J. Dunn, Jordan Helton, Alina Husain, Ana Dionne-Lanier, Bridget Lynn, Inna Pletukhina, Thomas C. Scott Jr., Carter Stevens, and Karina Wegman. UN CAT Project Associate Director Jennifer de Laurentiis, who has supervised Project students since 2004 and was joined that fall by Professor Brenda Smith, describes the Project as “experiential education that from day one immerses students in rejecting torture while helping students hone key advocacy, legal, and strategic skills in a real-world context where much is at stake.” 

What Kovler Alumni Say About the Program

"One aspect of the UN CAT Project was traveling to Geneva, Switzerland, to observe and contribute to one of the three sessions held by the Committee each year.  This was the most exciting and rewarding part of the class.  While in Geneva, we met with the Committee chairperson to discuss matters under the Convention against Torture. After a semester of research and learning, it was extremely rewarding to hear from practitioners and discuss the challenges facing the Committee in the coming years. As an added bonus, we met with several alumni working at the World Trade Organization and top law firms in Geneva."

Chase Dunn, JD '16


"Participating in the UN CAT Project was an invaluable educational experience that allowed me to further develop my advocacy skills, gain a deeper understanding of the U.N.’s human rights treaty body mechanisms, and contextualize many of the subjects that I had learned about in previous international law courses. Having worked as a Dean’s Fellow for the Anti-Torture Initiative with the Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez, I was familiar with the Convention against Torture and States parties' obligations therein. However, the substantial, focused research associated with the UN CAT Project, along with the instrumental guidance provided by Professor de Laurentiis during the course’s weekly seminar, permitted me to profoundly analyze the Convention’s implementation as applied to two States parties and identify potential areas of noncompliance."

Vanessa Drummond Alvarez, JD '16


"The UN CAT Project was a fantastic, engaging experience. I developed an extensive understanding of the Convention, an international legal instrument I knew little about before starting the Project, and learned about the history and difficulty of applying its various articles to states parties. It was extremely rewarding to know that my research contributed to the useful pool of information for purposes of monitoring compliance with Convention obligations."

Carter Stevens, JD '16