Human Rights Competition

About the Competition

The Virginia Law Human Rights Student Scholars Writing Competition (HRSSWC) is sponsored by the University of Virginia School of Law’s Human Rights Program and the Virginia Journal of International Law. This global competition is designed to encourage student scholarly inquiry into human rights topics and afford emerging student scholars an opportunity to develop their research and contributions by interacting with Virginia’s preeminent international law faculty.

The HRSSWC welcomes all student papers relating to human rights law from current J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D. students from the United States and abroad. May 2014 graduates may also submit papers written as part of their law school curriculum. Entrants are encouraged to view this topic broadly, submitting any work that furthers understanding of a substantive area of human rights law.

The student author of the top paper will receive a cash prize of $500 and expedited consideration for publication in the Virginia Journal of International Law. Additionally, the winning author will be invited to present his or her paper at a special Human Rights Student Scholars Workshop involving Virginia's international law faculty, VJIL editors, and Virginia law students.

Papers will be judged on quality of analysis and writing. The judging committee will include members of Virginia’s law faculty and VJIL editors.


Sixth Annual HRSSWC Details:

Deadline: June 27, 2014

Please submit entries to: See the HRSSWC guidelines for submission instructions and additional information about the competition.


Current Winner

Fifth Annual HRSSWC:

Kendra L. Wergin, University of Virginia School of Law & Sciences Po Paris École de Droit
“Problematic Precedents: The Conflicting Legacies in the Genocide Jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia”
Kendra Wergin is a 2014 J.D. candidate at the University of Virginia School of Law and a Master of Economic Law candidate at Sciences Po Paris. As a Croatian American, Kendra has long had an interest in the former Yugoslavia, but it was her experience volunteering in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia in 2011 that solidified her interest in post-conflict justice in the region. As an intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia during the summer of 2012, Kendra assisted with the prosecution of Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladić and focused particularly on analyzing evidence of genocide committed in the Bosnian municipalities. She was surprised to learn that no prior prosecutions of that particular genocide charge had been successful, and she was selected as a Cutler Fellow (in partnership with the Salzburg Global Seminar) to investigate these outcomes. While completing this research on the ICTY's genocide jurisprudence, Kendra also observed the genocide trial of former president José Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala during April 2013, and she served as one of the principal authors of the trial report issued by the National Lawyers Guild. She is a member of the Law and Public Service Program at the University of Virginia and served as an Articles Editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law.


Previous Winners

Fourth Annual HRSSWC:

Clare M. Boronow, University of Virginia School of Law

“Silencing the Media in Sri Lanka: How the Sri Lankan Constitution Fuels Self-Censorship and Hinders Reconciliation”


Third Annual HRSSWC:

Clare M. Boronow, University of Virginia School of Law

“Closing the Accountability Gap for Indian and Alaska Native Tribes: Balancing the Right to Self Determination with the Right to a Remedy”


Second Annual HRSSWC:

Andrew Herman, New York University School of Law

“Reassessing the Role of Supplier Codes of Conduct: Closing the Gap Between Aspiration and Reality”


First Annual HRSSWC:

Alyssa Bell, New York University School of Law

“Torturous Intent: Refoulement of Haitian Nationals and U.S. Obligations Under the Convention Against Torture”


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Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged inits activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization which is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts or omissions.