About the Lawyering Peace Program

Our mission:

Giving exceptional students an opportunity to develop professional skills and substantively engage in peace negotiations, post-conflict constitution drafting, and transitional justice planning as young professionals.

How the program started:

The Lawyering Peace Program was founded in 1998 by Law and International Relations Professor Paul Williams at American University. Professor Williams firmly believes that good lawyers are crucial to developing a durable peace in conflict and post-conflict countries. Given his expertise in international law, Professor Williams was frequently engaged in advising parties to peace negotiations and post-conflict constitution drafting. He realized that working on real-world legal issues was essential in preparing young lawyers who wanted to make a difference in the world, and began engaging them on projects related to questions and challenges his pro bono clients were faced with in the field.

What work will you do?

Each year a class of Research Associates are  chosen from American University’s Washington College of Law and the School of International  Service. The Research Associates work for a period of one year on various research-based projects and draft client-ready memoranda and other legal documents on international legal issues.

Students research everything from strategies for peace negotiations to international best practices for the structure of post-conflict justice mechanisms.

The class of Research Associates are paired on teams with Alumni of the program, and Senior Research Associates, who are previous Research Associates from the Lawyering Peace Program. The Senior Research Associates also act as mentors to the current Research Associates.

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Here are some projects LP students have worked on:

Burma: Students assist in work with civil society organizations to increase support for the peace process.

Kenya: Students provide support to civil society organizations and government institutions in Kenya to address accountability for post-election violence crimes and politically motivated human rights abuses.

Syria: Students support the work of counsel in providing legal assistance to the moderate opposition Syria National Council related to peace negotiations, ceasefire agreements, post-conflict constitution drafting, and transitional justice.

South Sudan: Students work with international organizations to assist civil society and other stakeholders in South Sudan to increase and coordinate their documentation efforts.

Tanzania: Students provide support for civil society and government-led initiatives to counter violent extremism and understand its causes at local levels.

Yemen: Students provide support to civil society groups in building capacity and promoting engagement with the peace process and its implementation.

Iraq: Students provide assistance for projects with local and other international organizations to build the capacity of local Iraqis to document human rights violations.

Sudan: Students provide assistance to the Sudanese peace process.

Sri Lanka: Students work with civil society partners to build capacity for human rights documentation work, transitional justice initiatives, and impact litigation.

Professional development:

Research Associates take Professor Williams’ class, Advanced International Law and Peace Negotiations. The Lawyering Peace Program has a strong professional development component. Research Associates have the opportunity to network with alumni, attend professional development events and panels, as well as events at well-known DC institutions, and practice their negotiating skills in numerous negotiation simulations throughout the year.

Where have our alumni worked?

Our students have access to a network of over 700 alumni, who now work in a wide variety of organizations in the public and private sector.

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Check out our FAQ page for more information.


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