Volunteer Page

International Human Rights Monitoring Bodies
& International Criminal Law
by Professor Joanna Harrington

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC ) is a volunteer-run non-government organization (NGO). LRWC is a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders who, in cooperation with other NGOs, promotes international human rights law (IHRL) and the rule of law globally through advocacy, education and legal research. Volunteers contribute to advocacy on behalf of human rights defenders in jeopardy because of their advocacy and people denied fair trial rights. Dangers faced by these victims include: arbitrary detention, torture, disappearance, injury and death. The work of LRWC volunteers is critical to ensuring legal protections for victims of grave rights violations. Volunteers must be: a/ a member of LRWC; b/ committed to promoting and protection human rights; and, c/ capable of working virtually, cooperatively and independently. The work of volunteers is reviewed by the Executive Director or other LRWC Director(s) before publication.

If you see a topic of interest below please email lrwc@lrwc.org and someone will provide further direction.


The job of LRWC Country Monitors is to a/ monitor the situation of human rights defenders in the particular country; b/ respond to human rights violations against human rights defenders and/or people denied fair trial rights with a written communication that accurately sets out the facts and identifies the remedy required by IHRL; and, c/ monitor the situation; and, d/ advise LRWC of additional action needed. LRWC Country Monitors also contribute to oral and written statements to the United Nations, reports to international human rights monitoring bodies and intervention briefs to domestic or international tribunals. See Monitor Guidelines for more information.

Monitor or Co-Monitors are needed for:

  1. Bahrain
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Cameroon
  4. China
  5. Egypt
  6. Guatemala
  7. Honduras
  8. Israel
  9. Malaysia
  10. Mexico
  11. Pakistan
  12. The Philippines
  13. Saudi Arabia
  14. Singapore
  15. Sudan
  16. Turkey
  17. United States


Most LRWC advocacy commences with a letter on behalf of the victim of reported human rights violations. Letters can be powerful tools to achieve  A well written and timely letter can focus attention on the abuse, promote protection for and give hope to the victim(s). Most letter contain recitations of the relevant IHRL drawn from LRWC publications. See Letter Writing Guide for more information. Volunteers draft letters which are reviewed and approved by the Executive Director of other Director. The Monitor decides whether to affix her/his name to the letter.


LRWC legal research identifies the international human rights law provisions and their interpretation, purpose and application as determined by the jurisprudence. This research forms the basis of letters, intervention briefs to domestic and international tribunals, reports to monitoring bodies of the United Nations and the Organization of American States and oral and written statements to UN and other bodies. LRWC publishes guides on specific rights. LRWC is done by volunteers who do not received a wage or honorarium except when production of a publication is supported by a grant. None of the topics listed have grant money attached. Researchers must be able to: a/ work independently; b/ research thoroughly; c/ record accurately; d/ footnotes properly; and, e/ work cooperatively. See Research Guide for links to international human rights law jurisprudence.  For an example LRWC publication see the LIBRARY.

  1. Memo on elections to the UN Human Rights Council: what spaces are vacant and  coming vacant; what states have applied; letters of candidature
  2. Report for the Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain
  3. Summary on the Universal Periodic Reviews of China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan with respect to specific issues.

  1. Rule of Law under the United Nations, OAS, AU and EU human rights systems
  2. Right to Trial by Civilian Courts – Update
  3. Freedom from Incommunicado Detention – Update
  4. Rights to Counsel as a Non-Derogable Right under Emergency Measures – Update
  5. Widespread and systematic attacks against human rights defenders resulting in loss of liberty as a crime against humanity
  6. Right and responsibility to engage in human rights advocacy in relation to these questions: when does a duty to advocate for rights arise; acknowledgement of activism to address climate change as human rights advocacy;  how is civil disobedience defined in international law jurisprudence and when is civil disobedience protected.
  7. When is civil disobedience a legitimate exercise of rights to engage in human rights advocacy
  8. Legitimacy of prerogative powers and limits on the use of discretionary powers  under rule of law based systems
  9. Propaganda and Public Relations
  10. The right to earn a living: what constitutes legitimate restrictions and exile as an illegitimate restriction
  11.  The right to manifest religious belief and the requirement of legitimate restrictions with particular attention to whether a ban on wearing religious symbols in public can be a legitimate restriction
  12.  Post 2016 update on the right to manifest religious belief
  13.  Research on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties


Regarding cases in

  1. China
  2. Saudi Arabia
  3. Bahrain
  4. Viet Nam
  5. Turkey


Assistant to the International Criminal Court Committee: review news, track current ICC events and prepare monthly memos


LRWC needs volunteers to:

  • Identify viable non-government funding options for LRWC;
  • Draft funding proposals


LRWC need volunteers to assist with production of written materials by editing and providing advice regarding methods of publication and distribution to maximize accessibility of the materials.


LRWC needs volunteers to develop a media strategy generally and for specific countries.