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BLOG: Clive Baldwin, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH - CGHR Practitioner Series 2019

last modified May 04, 2019 06:11 PM
Anouk Wear, HSPS (Social Anthropology), member of CGHR's Student Group wrote about the first talk of this year's Practitioner Series with Clive Baldwin, Human Rights Watch.

On Wednesday 6 March, we had the privilege of hosting Clive Baldwin to talk to us about his job as Senior Legal Advisor for the Legal Policy Office at Human Rights Watch since 2007, as well as his career pathway to this job. 

Following his master’s degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Baldwin realized that he wanted to train as a solicitor to directly work with clients. After studying law and starting his training contract, he fell in love with civil law and began working on cases. He was then given the opportunity to work on the OSCE Mission, where he helped write laws and found working with the community both extraordinary and refreshing. He enjoyed it, although left burnt out – as is often the case with this type of work – having stayed two years longer than he intended. 

Next, Baldwin spent five years working with the Minority Rights Group in the UK where he did a lot of advocacy and helped set up a litigation department. He specifically discussed his work on two successful cases; one, at the European Court of Human Rights, concerned Bosnia Hercegovina’s exclusion of Jews from parliament and the presidency, and, in the second, he represented the Endorois Community of Kenya at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in a case that set a precedent about indigenous land rights. When Baldwin approached this case, the indigenous people and the government were fighting over the land and the resources beneath it. Today, the Endorois can now use their land, perform their ceremonies and visit their ancestor’s graves. He is pleased with the outcome of this case, and also with the empowerment of women that it created. 

Now Baldwin is at Human Rights Watch, where he has been working for 11 years. He remarks that, along with Amnesty International, HRW is the biggest human rights NGO, though there are many other more specialist organizations. Baldwin spends most of his time on international human rights law, conflict law, international criminal law and refugee law. 

To current students, he emphasized the stress and resilience necessary in the human rights profession. Baldwin told us that a lot of people see very traumatic images with their work; human rights workers might say, ‘What right have I to complain,’ but there is overwhelming evidence of secondary trauma as a result of viewing these images without adequate coping mechanisms. He is pleased that today, people in the field are talking more about supporting each other. 

Baldwin advised students interested in working in human rights to get experience and to figure out the best way to use our rights. We should think about how to make real change and find balance between using the law and critiquing the law in human rights.