March 29, 2024 | At this year’s annual Columbia Law School Human Rights Student Paper Symposium, students presented scholarship that critically engaged with important human rights challenges such as accountability, gender discrimination, migration, state repression, and transitional justice. The symposium, showcasing novel, impactful, and creative scholarship, fosters the development of student writing and stimulates debate on human rights obstacles and opportunities. 

Priyanka Motaparthy, Director of HRI's Project on Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict, and Human Rights commentating on a student's paper. 

“The student scholarship this year was innovative and exceptional,” said Professor Sarah Knuckey, Director of the Human Rights Institute and Clinic. “Student papers tackled key challenges in human rights, and the expert commentators in the conference also provided extensive feedback to support students as they develop their papers further.”

Fourteen students presented, including 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLMs. For each paper, an academic or practitioner commentator provided feedback to support the students to further develop their papers. They presented papers in conference themes that included: tackling state immunity for rights violations; perspectives on gender, consent, and legal protections; human rights and migration; futures of punishment, reparations, and transitional justice; and international accountability frameworks. 

Skylar Symposium
Columbia Law School Students Skylar Gleason '25 and Arman Antonyan '25 presenting their papers.

“The HRI Student Paper Symposium was an incredible demonstration of the wide-ranging and brilliant work my peers are doing related to human rights, and left me feeling truly inspired,” stated Skylar Gleason ‘25. “The symposium attracts the best faculty and they are so generous with their time and feedback, which is invaluable for students.” She presented her paper, Rethinking Transitional Justice and Reform in South Sudan: A Fourth Pillar Approach at the symposium. 

Presentations were followed by commentary and discussion from Columbia faculty and staff, including the Director of HRI’s project on Armed Conflict, Counterterrorism and Human Rights, Priyanka Motaparthy, who said that “it was inspiring to see the level of student scholarship and the thoughtful, engaged debate around challenging human rights issues.” Commentators also included academics and practitioners affiliated with EarthRights International, Human Rights Watch, CLS Environmental and Climate Justice Clinic, Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, Interpeace USA, and Rights CoLab. 

Professor Richard Dicker commentating on a student's paper. 

The Symposium is co-sponsored by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, Human Rights Clinic, Columbia Law School Human Rights Association, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. The symposium included six sessions that were moderated by student group representatives, LLM human rights fellows, and HRI staff. The full program is available here. 


The Human Rights Institute advances international human rights through education, advocacy, fact-finding, research, scholarship, and critical reflection. We work in partnership with advocates, communities, and organizations pushing for social change to develop and strengthen the human rights legal framework and mechanisms, promote justice and accountability for human rights violations, and build and amplify collective power.

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