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The NHC hosted a group of law students from Leiden University

14 April 2015

On Thursday April 9th 2015 the Netherlands Helsinki Committee hosted a group of law students from the Leiden University’s LLM programme Advanced Studies in European and International Human Rights Law. The students engaged in a discussion with the NHC’s deputy directorJan de Vries and project officer Tim van der Maarel.

During the meeting several human rights related topics were discussed, including issues of funding and the obstacles and difficulties the NHC experiences in its day-to-day work. One of the more specific issues addressed during the meeting was the ongoing decrease of space for civil society in many countries. The speakers from the NHC explained that the increasingly constraining regulation of civil society has not been without consequences, also for the NHC and its partner organizations. A subsequent topic that was discussed was the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the alleged human rights violations committed there and the covering of this conflict in European media. Furthermore, questions with regards to specific NHC projects were answered, including Support Human Rights Defenders in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Countering discrimination of women and children and promoting their rights by changing social and economic policies in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Interesting for the students was the opportunity to link their theoretical knowledge to the practical side of working in the human rights sector. In this regard, the role and effectiveness of international human rights law was discussed. The two speakers from the NHC discussed the many challenges an NGO faces in practice whilst advocating compliance with international human rights norms. Simultaneously however, they also emphasized the local need for the existence of NGOs like the NHC and thus the necessity to overcome these challenges.

The meeting was appreciated by both the NHC and the students, who got a chance to relate their theoretical knowledge to the practical side of human rights. The NHC values opportunities to engage in discussions with students, as they are the next generation of human rights professionals. The NHC looks forward to future engagement with students and wishes their guests the best of luck with their Master’s.