Zooming Out, Then Zooming In: Using International Law to Advance Justice

13 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2017 Last revised: 24 Apr 2017

See all articles by Benjamin Hoffman

Benjamin Hoffman

Columbia Law School - Human Rights Clinic; EarthRights International

Date Written: Spring 2017


The article shares the struggles and voices of social movement leaders resisting the Conga mining project in the Cajamarca region of Peru. It zooms out to situate those struggles within global legal, socio-political, and economic structural forces, and then zooms back in to describe how students in the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic worked to create spaces in the halls of global power where the voices of local leaders would be heard and have impact. The article encourages lawyers and law students to resist the capture of international law and to work collaboratively to restructure global power imbalances, by ensuring that the content, interpretation, and application of international law are defined by the communities and individuals that most strongly feel its consequences. The article was adapted from keynote remarks delivered at the Columbia Society of International Law Faculty Honors Award Reception at Columbia Law School, on April 20, 2016.

Keywords: International Law, Human Rights, Environment, Extractive Industries, Mining, Collaborative Lawyering

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Benjamin and Hoffman, Benjamin, Zooming Out, Then Zooming In: Using International Law to Advance Justice (Spring 2017). Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 2, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2951769

Benjamin Hoffman (Contact Author)

EarthRights International ( email )

United States

Columbia Law School - Human Rights Clinic ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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