Rob Atkinson


This Essay considers the applicability of a particular model of legal ethics, neutral partisanship, to American lawyers’ representation of those who violate, or are accused of violating, international human rights. I maintain that neutral partisanship, a deficient model for American lawyers in their domestic practice, is even more problematic when applied in the international arena. The central question is this: are there limits, short of engaging in illegal conduct, that should constrain lawyers in the representation of those who violate international human rights? Neutral partisanship holds that any lawyer may, or, more strongly, must, pursue any legal end for any client by any legal means. I disagree, both in general and with respect to international human rights practice in particular.