July 17, 2005
Clinic Profile: Elga Cegla Clinical Legal Education Programs at Tel Aviv University
While preparing to teach a course on international women's rights, I came across Michael Kagan's opinion piece, The Missing Third Leg of UN Accountability in the Global Politician. Turns out Kagan is an instructor at Tel Aviv University's Refugee Rights Clinic. Since I didn't know anything about Tel Aviv University's law clinics, I did a little digging - here's what I learned.
The English version of TAU's website explains that the Tel-Aviv University law faculty established the Elga Cegla Clinical Legal Education Programs to "enhance the involvement of the Israeli legal community in the advancement of social and legal justice," and "to promote throughout the law school a legal culture dedicated to social justice." The TAU law clinic lists some impressive accomplishment in diverse legal arenas. The TAU Criminal Justice Program served as a model and a catalyst for the establishment of the National Public Defender’s Office. The Refugee Rights Clinic is Israel’s first and only program specializing in promoting and protecting refugee and asylum-seekers rights. The TAU law clinic was successful in having an Israeli court recognize the right of same sex partners to inherit from their partners, even if they die without leaving a will. The Community Law Center helped secure a precedent-setting opinion in the Israeli Supreme Court, establishing access to water as a basic right that cannot be denied to indigent persons.
The TAU law clinics include the Human Rights Program, the Criminal Justice Program,the Social Welfare Law Program, the Refugee Rights Clinic, the Environmental Justice Program, the Jaffa Community Law Program, and the Micro-business and Economic Justice Program. TAU is also the home of the Buchman Law Faculty's Public Interest Law Resource Center.
Kagan argues that "the moment has come for human rights advocates to join the campaign for UN reform." In Kagan's view, what the UN lacks are "mechanisms of accountability that would be accessible to the people who depend on UN agencies the most."
Kagan cites as a prime example the need to develop accountability mechanisms to address UN agency policies toward women refugees. For example, says Kagan "the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA), [has] since the 1950s forced women to receive assistance through either their father or their husband; they cannot be registered as Palestinian refugees in their own right, and cannot pass on the status to their children. This is a direct violation of major human rights conventions, but it continues nonetheless."
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