November 10-16, 2019: Kovler students traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the 68th session of the Committee against Torture (CAT). The Kovler Project practicum, led by Professor and Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman, includes intensive course work on international law and human rights - including a simulation exercise on the CAT‘s work. Students observed the Committee’s proceedings, engaged in research and provided briefings on country conditions to rapporteurs. Additionally, students met with government and NGO representatives, international civil servants, and alums working in Geneva.
The Kovler Project Against Torture was established in 2004 by Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman (former member and chair of the UN Committee Against Torture). Kovler Student Scholars undertake a practice-oriented deep dive on the prohibition of torture in international law through the Project’s specialized practicum, simulation, and week at the UN Committee against Torture session in Geneva, Switzerland. Students provide the Committee chairperson and country rapporteurs with research on States' compliance with the UN Convention against Torture. Project participants observe the Committee’s proceedings, reflect on advocacy, strategies, and relevant developments, and provide briefings to Committee members. In anticipation of their week-long engagement with the Committee, students participate in an in-depth simulation of a Committee session, representing both NGOs and State parties, while being questioned by a panel comprised of current and past CAT members. Students conduct intensive research on the six countries appearing before the Committee in the November session, and work in teams to produce reports identifying compliance issues with the Convention.
The practicum is purpose-oriented, providing students with fundamental background information, supplemented by the students' own research regarding in-country conditions of the States they are assigned. The practicum's overarching goal is to prepare students to effectively advise the Committee on the compliance of countries. The practicum also prepares students to be effective lawyers in international settings. Students develop and apply numerous professional skills, e.g., advocacy and professionalism in multi-cultural contexts; processing faculty feedback with opportunities for guided reflection; legal analysis, reasoning, and research; professional and ethical responsibilities; handling and synthesizing voluminous materials, including confidential and sensitive information; team work and collaborative drafting.