Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Civic Space Litigation Surgery 2018 (Fully-funded to Dakar, Senegal)

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Civic Space Litigation Surgery 2018 (Fully-funded to Dakar, Senegal)

Deadline: March 16, 2018

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is calling for applications from lawyers and civil society organizations based in Africa to participate in a forthcoming litigation surgery on the protection of civic space. The litigation surgery will be held in Dakar on 10 – 11 May 2018. All applicants are required to submit a current or potential case involving the protection of civic space for discussion and workshopping.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights was founded in 1968 to carry on the unfinished work of Bobby Kennedy in partnership with the leaders of social movements in the United States and around the world. Our advocacy and litigation team is currently litigating over three-dozen high-impact cases before the Inter-American, African, and United Nations human rights systems with a focus on protecting civic space and fostering civic participation.

Objectives of the litigation surgery: 

  • To identify high-impact cases to submit before the African human rights system (i.e. the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, and East African Court of Justice) to address key areas in the protection of civic space.
  • To confidentially workshop cases among participants and experienced litigants in the African and Inter-American Human Rights System, receiving feedback and cross-regional advice on litigation and advocacy strategies.
  • To identify resources, partnerships, and ongoing support needed to facilitate the filing of cases and accompanying advocacy strategies.


The following non-exhaustive list of themes are a guide for the types of cases that could be submitted with the application:

  • Suppression of peaceful protests
  • Burdensome regulatory restrictions on civil society organizations
  • Suppression of the media and access to information
  • Abuse of laws or policies in the context of countering terrorism
  • Impunity for threats, violence, and arbitrary detention


Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will cover the costs of airfare, visas, transportation, accommodations, and a reasonable per diem for expenses not otherwise covered for up to 8 selected participants.


  • The litigation surgery is open to lawyers and civil society representatives of the African Union.
  • The participants must be involved in, or considering, litigating a case or cases that address the deletion of civic space involving a violation of the rights of expression, assembly, and / or association. With their application, they must submit that they are litigating or taking care of the disease.

Whereas all of them will be considered, we encourage them to consider that they have an intersection with the following:

  • Cases that highlight the role of multinational corporations and the suppression of civic space;
  • Cases that link the deletion of civic space to economic, social, and cultural rights – in particular environmental rights;
  • Cases that demonstrate the removal of civic space uniquely affects women, sexual minorities, persons with disabilities, or refugees and internally displaced persons;
  • Cases that address the link between the suppression of civic space and corruption.
  • The working languages for the litigation surgery will be English and French.


If you have any questions regarding the litigation surgery or the application process, please email [email protected].

Click here to apply.

For more information, visit Civic Space Litigation Surgery.