The Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL)
is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to enforce
compliance with international human rights and humanitarian
(armed conflict) law through direct legal action in national
and international tribunals; monitoring of crisis situations,
especially those with wars; and addressing the underlying reasons
for massive violations of human rights and war.
Originally incorporated in 1982 as "International Disability
Law" to support the United Nations work of Disabled Peoples'
International, we changed our name in 1990 to Association of
Humanitarian Lawyers to reflect our wider mission and our support
for United Nations work by other UN-credentialed groups such
as International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project
(IED/HLP), Liberation, International Human Rights Association
of American Minorities, and Earthjustice, with whom we partner
on selected projects and on whose behalf we attend United Nations
human rights sessions. AHL supports preparation and dissemination
of a number of publications addressing human rights and humanitarian
law that are circulated at the UN sessions and elsewhere. The
publications are in high demand as leading works in their fields.
Many of our direct legal actions have been at the Organization
of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Right
(OAS). Several of these have involved violations of medical
neutrality in armed conflict, because of our special emphasis
on ensuring human rights and humanitarian law protection for
medical personnel, patients, facilities, and supplies during
war. Our very first case at the OAS-- defending the victims
at a hospital in Grenada -- and our most recent case at the
OAS -- defending victims at hospitals in Falluja, Iraq -- underscore
our commitment to doctors, medical staff, patients and war-wounded.
Other direct legal actions have been in United States federal
courts, at the European Court of Human Rights, and at UN bodies.
A major portion of our work is assisting United Nations Special
Rapporteurs (investigators or examiners) mandated with monitoring
violations or with preparing studies and sets of compliance
guidelines in key areas of human rights and humanitarian law.
Since our first work with a United Nations Special Rapporteur
in 1984 on the issue of human rights and disability, we have
assisted in the preparation of studies and guidelines on the
rights of persons with mental illnesses and minimum mental health
care standards; the right to a sound environment as a human
right and guidelines on that topic; the adverse consequences
of economic sanctions on human rights; globalization and human
rights; the illegality of certain weapons, including weapons
containing depleted uranium (DU) and cluster bombs; and human
rights and terrorism and guidelines on counter-terrorism measures.
These efforts help ensure that evolving law and standard-setting
moves in the direction of protecting peoplesí rights rather
than giving governments more leeway to deny or violate rights.
We also present cases to UN Special Rapporteurs working on torture,
summary execution, religious intolerance, and arbitrary detention
and to the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.
While our programs have always included briefings
or hearings at United States Congress, at the invitation of
members of Congress, on such issues as Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan,
the UN sessions, and general humanitarian law and human rights
concerns, we are especially pleased with a new program with
members of Congress to provide a neutral forum for all sides
of the Kashmir situation. This year is our third year of partnering
with the Kashmiri American Council to provide forums at the
US Congress with key leaders from all sides of the situation
in Kashmir. Due to the resounding success of this program we
expect to launch similar programs with members of Congress to
address other conflicts of long duration, especially those in
Sri Lanka and Indonesia/Moluccas.
Our internship program for students has been especially successful,
as most of our interns have gone on to careers involving human
rights and humanitarian law. We usually have between five and
seven researchers or interns per year, some of whom are attorneys,
others law students or paralegals or graduates in political
science or related fields. Most of them accompany us to the
United Nations human rights sessions. We have recently begun
a unique high school internship, taking high school seniors
to these sessions. Our recent interns have come from the United
States, Botswana, Canada, China, France, Germany, Korea, Malta,
Nepal, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the.
For press inquiries, donor requests and information about the
Association's legal work, call (415) 668-2752. Our address is
154 Fifth Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118 USA. For general questions,
please email us at