James J. Silk
Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights; Director, Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights
(on leave, spring 2023)
James J. Silk is the Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights at Yale Law School, where he directs the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. He is also director of the Law School’s Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights.FULL BIOGRAPHY
- Room L39
Education & Curriculum Vitae
J.D., Yale Law School, 1989
M.A., University of Chicago, 1981
A.B., University of Michigan, 1969
- Human Rights Workshop
- Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic
James J. Silk is the Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights at Yale Law School, where he teaches the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. He is director of the Law School’s Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights. He founded and directs the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights in Yale College. In the 2016-2017 academic year, he initiated and directed JUNCTURE: Explorations in Art and Human Rights, a year-long program of collaborations with artists; a multidisciplinary graduate seminar; fellowships for Yale School of Art MFA students; a public lecture series; and a symposium. He was formerly the director of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in Washington, D.C. After completing law school, he was an attorney at the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter, where his pro bono work included representing a Virginia death-row inmate in his appeals. Before attending law school, Professor Silk taught English in Shanghai, China, for a year and then was editor, policy analyst, and senior writer for the U.S. Committee for Refugees. Professor Silk has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from Yale.
(Clockwise from top left): Antoine De Spiegeleir ’22, Eleanor Runde ’23, Lorand Laskai ’22, and Simon Engler ’23 participated in the two-week Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Four Law Students Selected as Salzburg Cutler Fellows
Four Yale Law School students were selected to participate in the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program to explore the future of public and private international law.
Connecticut's only supermax prison, Northern Correctional Institution, closed on July 1, 2021, after years of work by the Lowenstein Clinic.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Tackling Human Rights at Home and Across the Globe
An in-depth look at the work of the Orville H. Schell Center for International Human Rights — a hub for human rights activities at Yale Law School and a home for students preparing for human rights careers. Photo courtesy Kelan Lyons/CT Mirror
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
What Do We Really Talk About When We Talk About Human Rights? — A Commentary by James J. Silk
Open Global Rights
James J. Silk is the Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights at Yale Law School.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
World’s tropical forests and people imperiled by legal rollbacks under COVID-19
Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights James J. Silk ’89 is quoted in a Reuters story about threats against indigenous people and rainforests during the coronavirus pandemic as governments roll back social and environmental safeguards.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Yale Professor Urges Kosovo to Stop Attempts to Expel American Human Rights Lawyer
Exit Albania reports on a letter from Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights James Silk ’89 to the Albanian prime minister regarding that government’s attempt to deport an American citizen and human rights lawyer.
Yale Law School participants in the 2019 Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program (Credit: Salzburg Global Seminar/Maggie Spiller)
Friday, March 15, 2019
Students Delve Into International Law at Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program
Five students and a faculty member attended the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program on international law in Washington, D.C.
Professor Jim Silk ’89 accepts the M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). Photo by Kyle Encar.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Professor James Silk ’89 Receives Human Rights Award
Professor James J. Silk ’89 was awarded the M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award by the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) on January 4, 2019.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
20th Anniversary Bernstein Symposium Will Reunite Former Fellows
On April 12-13, 2018, the Schell Center for International Human Rights will host the annual Bernstein International Human Rights Symposium.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Lowenstein Report on Myanmar Genocide Cited by New York Times
A Lowenstein Clinic paper analyzing whether genocide is occurring in Myanmar has been cited my numerous media outlets and human rights organizations.
Aksjon mot oljeboring i Arktis” (“Action Against Oil Drilling in the Arctic”) by Anna Olerud/Natur og Ungdom is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Clinic Brief Urges Norwegian Court to Affirm Rights of Future Generations
A brief filed on October 31, 2017, in the Oslo District Court argued that new licenses for oil drilling in the Arctic issued by the government of Norway in June 2016 are inconsistent with the country’s obligations under international law.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
What’s the difference between genocide and ethnic cleansing?
PBS News Hour
Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights James Silk ’89 and Tasnim Motala ’16 are quoted in a story about the differences between genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Professor Silk to Give Binger Inaugural Lecture on October 16
Professor James Silk will deliver his inaugural lecture as the first Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 127.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Capstone Symposium Held for Human Rights Students
Yale College’s Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights (MAPHR) convened its first annual Senior Capstone Symposium on Monday, May 1, 2017.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Top Human Rights Lawyers’ Views on Trump’s Human Rights Record
Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights and director of the Schell Center for International Human Rights Jim Silk ’89 and Kenneth Roth ’80 are quoted in an article about responses to President Trump’s human rights record.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Yale’s Invitation to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame Obscures His Human Rights Abuses—A Commentary by Elizabeth Leiserson ’17, Hope Metcalf ’00, James Silk, and Alyssa Yamamoto ’18
The Huffington Post
Jim Silk is a Clinical Professor of Law and director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School; Hope Metcalf ’00 is an Associate Research Scholar in Law and executive director of the Schell Center at Yale Law School; and Elizabeth Leiserson ’17 and Alyssa Yamamoto ’18 are Yale Law School students.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Bernstein Symposium, April 7–8, to Focus on Art and Human Rights
The Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Symposium will be held April 7–8, 2016. This year’s event is part of JUNCTURE: Explorations in Art and Human Rights.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Lowenstein Clinic Assists Brothers Stranded in Afghan Prison
On January 23, 2016, students in the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic gathered around the phone to speak with their clients, Sa’id Jamaluddin and Abdul Fatah, held at the Afghan National Detention Facility. The call was the first contact the two brothers have had with anyone outside of Afghanistan since they were captured by U.S. forces in 2009.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Artist Alfredo Jaar Gives JUNCTURE Initiative Talk on Feb. 3
Alfredo Jaar, a Chilean-born artist, architect, and filmmaker based in New York, will give a lecture titled “It Is Difficult” on February 3, 2016.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
YLS Team Makes Final Round in Human Rights Competition
In December 2015, a team of Yale Law School students advanced to the final round of the 2015 Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Clinic Study Finds Evidence of Genocide in Myanmar
In a legal analysis of the human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School has found strong evidence of genocide against the Rohingya population.
Monday, October 26, 2015
‘Strong Evdence’ of Genocide in Myanmar, finds Al Jazeera investigation
Al Jazeera America
Al Jazeera America reports that findings by its investigative reporters, and corroborated by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic, indicate the Myanmar government may be orchestrating violence against resident Muslims.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Human Rights Center Announces JUNCTURE, Yearlong Initiative on Art and Human Rights
Seeking to foster new and creative cross-disciplinary approaches to the study and practice of human rights and the arts, the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School has launched a new initiative called JUNCTURE.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Lowenstein Clinic and European Human Rights Advocacy Clinic Collaborating on Research
The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre at Middlesex University in London are collaborating in research on human rights abuses in the Ukraine.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
EHRAC partners with Yale on human rights work
Middlesex University London
Clinical Professor of Law Jim Silk ’89 is quoted in an announcement that the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic will partner with its European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Lowenstein Clinic Releases Report on Child Marriage in Sierra Leone
The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and Plan UK, a global charity working with children and communities to ensure children’s rights, recently published a report, “Before Their Time: Challenges to Implementing the Prohibition Against Child Marriage in Sierra Leone.”
Monday, April 8, 2013
Bernstein Symposium April 11-12 to Examine Human Rights and Corporate Liability
The Bernstein Symposium will cover corporate liability in the 21st century and take place on Thursday, April 11, 2013, and Friday, April 12, 2013, at Yale Law School.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Enough Project Co-founder and Human Rights Activist John Prendergast to Share His Experiences With Yale Community
Enough Project co-founder and human rights activist John Prendergast will be at Yale in October and November speaking about his efforts to end genocide and promote peace.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Report from Yale Human Rights Team Finds Cambodian Garment Factories Use Short-Term Employment Contracts to Exploit Workers
The Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School has released a report finding that Cambodian garment factories use short-term employment contracts to exploit workers.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic to Work with Legal Team Supporting Victims of Khmer Rouge Atrocities
Members of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic have joined the legal team for the survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide seeking justice at the trial next year of four former senior Khmer Rouge leaders.
Monday, October 12, 2009
SELA Participants Gather in Paraguay to Examine Law and Sexuality
Nearly 100 lawyers and legal scholars from North and South America gathered in Asunción, Paraguay, this past June for the 2009 SELA meeting.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Schell Human Rights Center to Hold Panel on Sudan Crisis
The Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School is holding a panel discussion on the ongoing genocide in Sudan on Tuesday, November 30, from 6-7:30 p.m. in Room 127 at the Sterling Law Building, 127 Wall Street.
Friday, November 23, 2001
Schell Center Human Rights Workshop: A Forum for Practitioners, Activists, Scholars--and Students
The formula is as pure as any educational enterprise can be: a location, students, and teachers. Laptops aren't necessary, nor is an Ethernet connection or audio-visual equipment--because the Human Rights Workshop at YLS centers on discussion. The presence of a table heaped with snacks and drinks may help boost attendance a little, but everyone is most interested in the consumption of ideas and information.