Case Studies

Harvard Law School

The Satter Human Rights Fellowship, housed within the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law, deploys students and recent graduates to areas around the world that are facing urgent mass atrocities. The fellows work with on-the-ground organizations to apply their knowledge and expertise to some of our most crucial challenges.


Launched 10 years ago, the fellowship supports and promotes human rights defense in response to mass atrocities or widespread and severe patterns of rights abuse. So far, 22 fellows have participated in Haiti, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Jordan, among other countries. Though their work ranges from war crime prosecution to advocating for women’s rights, every fellow is focused on using human rights law to improve the lives of vulnerable people in conflict areas.

For example, Nicolette Waldman used her 2013–2014 fellowship year to develop work she began at Harvard Law that examined how civilians in conflict-affected countries understand the laws of war. She began her work in Libya and Bosnia, but the fellowship allowed her to expand her research to include Gaza and Somalia. “The cornerstone of civilian protection is that people who aren’t fighting should be protected from attack,” says Waldman. Her work illustrated to international lawmakers and legal authorities that when civilians do not understand their role in conflict, that protection is jeopardized. “We want the people writing or revising civilian protection laws to know what the reality is for civilians,” says Waldman.


Satter Fellows contribute needed skills, expertise, and resources to regions experiencing mass atrocities. Longer term, the fellowship builds leaders by giving them experiences that are often hard to obtain right after school.

For example, the fellowship allowed Anjali Mohan to work long term in Myanmar on issues about which she cares deeply. Mohan spent the 2015–2016 fellowship year focused on the rights of the Rohingya community, a highly persecuted Muslim community in Myanmar. One year after completing her fellowship, Mohan is now the Myanmar country director of Justice Base, a UK-based organization

that promotes the rule of law in transitional and post-con- flict societies. “My work as a Satter Fellow helped establish me as someone who those in the civil society and human rights communities could look to for help. It gave me the ability to work on issues in a substantive way, rather than the strictly administra- tive role that comprises most entry-level rule-of-law or human rights work, which made it easier for me to take on a leadership role,” says Mohan.

How The Satter Foundation Has Helped

he Satter Foundation launched the Satter Human Rights Fellowship with the 2007–2008 cohort and has funded fellows for 10 years. Tyler Giannini, a clinical professor of law and the co-director of Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program, credits Muneer’s vision for the fellows’ success. “Muneer recognized a specific need to invest in people as soon as they’re starting careers,” says Giannini. “He believed that this would strengthen the field in the short term and would scale over time, which has become the reality for fellows over the last decade.”

What's Next

The three 2017–2018 Satter Fellows are working in Myanmar, Iraq, and Syria, continuing the long tradition of fellows who have taken on the challenge and privilege of working in critical areas of need. The fellowship’s reach continues to broaden with each graduating cohort, creating a network of experienced and dedicated human rights leaders around the world.

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