The Neelan Tiruchelvam Memorial Fellowship, administered jointly by the Human Rights Program and Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School, provides opportunities for outstanding legal scholars and practitioners of Sri Lankan background to undertake research, writing, and scholarly engagement on themes related to human rights in Sri Lanka and South Asia.

We welcome applications from established and emerging academics, as well as experienced practicing lawyers in relevant fields. Fellows may spend from one month up to one academic semester in residence at Harvard Law School working on an independent project. We seek applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds, academic traditions, and scholarly interests.

How to Apply

To apply for a Tiruchelvam Fellowship for 2024–2025, please submit the following materials via the online application form:

  • a curriculum vitae
  • a recent publication or a writing sample (approximately 25 pages in length). All publications or writing samples should be in English.
  • a research statement, not to exceed 1000 words, that: 1) describes the proposed work during the fellowship period. The proposal should outline a specific research project that can be accomplished during the Fellow’s residence at Harvard Law School; and 2) sets forth a specific work output for the completed project (e.g., book, article, database/website entries).
  • Disclosure of background information: candidates are required to disclose all criminal offenses and administrative, professional, academic violations at the time of application by answering the questions on the application form. If any of the answers change after the candidate has submitted their application, they must update the Program as soon as possible.

You will be asked to arrange that TWO letters of recommendation be submitted directly from your referees via our online portal. The application form includes a separate link for you to provide your referees. If more than two letters are sent, there is no guarantee that all letters will be read.

Application Deadline

All applications must be received no later than February 2, 2024 via the online application. Letters of recommendation should be sent directly from the referee to the Program via the online system. Late applications will not be considered.

Please note: When you access the application form, you should be ready to enter all requested information and to upload all supporting documents (CV, research proposal, and publication/writing sample), as the form cannot be saved.

Additional Information

Funding and Facilities

Fellows will receive a stipend of up to $5,000 per month. The host Programs will pay the monthly Law School appointment fee for the duration of a Fellow’s stay at Harvard Law School, which will ensure, among other things, access to all Harvard University libraries, access to University recreational facilities (for an additional fee), an email account at the Law School, membership in the Faculty Club, and free admission to University museums. Tiruchelvam Fellows receive access to a shared Fellow’s office in the Human Rights Program suite.

Terms of Appointment

Tiruchelvam Fellowship terms are variable, from a minimum of one month to a maximum of one semester. We do not accept visitors during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Residence Requirements

With exceptions for a limited amount of personal and professional travel, Tiruchelvam Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard Law School throughout the term of their appointment in order to foster an intellectual community, share ideas, and contribute to events and relevant program engagements.

Concurrent Appointments

Visiting Fellows must consult with the Program before accepting any additional concurrent academic or research fellowship, appointment, or affiliation during the term of their Visiting Fellowship.


We do not provide housing. Accepted fellows are encouraged to seek outside housing several months before arriving in Cambridge, preferably in person. Please consult the Harvard International Office website for more information on housing in the area.

Health Insurance

All Visiting Fellows must show proof of having adequate health insurance. Those who do not already possess such insurance can access information on obtaining Harvard Affiliate Health Insurance at the Harvard University Health Services website. A less expensive plan, available by the month, has been negotiated by Harvard’s International Office for international scholars.


Visiting Fellows may audit one course in any unit at Harvard University on a non-credit basis per semester, with permission of the instructor. There is no tuition charge for auditing courses. Visiting Fellows do not have faculty status. Appointment as a Visiting Fellow does not entitle the individual to participation in any Harvard degree program.

Faculty Club

Fellows are allowed access to the Harvard Faculty Club. The Club serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Friday.


Fellows may take advantage of a wealth of cultural and academic extra-curricular offerings available to the Harvard community on a daily basis. Visiting fellows should come prepared to share their professional experience and expertise, and will have opportunities to meet other scholars through functions organized by numerous groups and programs at Harvard Law School and other parts of the University.

For any questions or for further information, please address queries to Kai Mueller, HRP’s Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or +1.617.495.9362.

About Neelan Tiruchelvam

Tiruchelvam in Bellagio, Italy, in 1999.

Neelan Tiruchelvam (1944-1999) was a Sri Lankan peace and human rights activist, lawyer, scholar and politician. Recognized nationally and internationally for his unyielding commitment to social justice and his efforts to end the Sri Lankan Civil War, Neelan Tiruchelvam was also a pioneering scholar of constitutional theory and minority rights. His illustrious career encompassed stations as Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament, Founding Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, and Chair of the Council of Minority Rights Group International. One month before he was scheduled to join Harvard Law School as a Visiting Professor, Tiruchelvam was assassinated in Sri Lanka on July 29, 1999.

During his life, Tiruchelvam had built deep connections with Harvard Law School, where he obtained his LL.M. in 1970 and completed his S.J.D. in 1973. He returned to Cambridge in 1986 as one of the first Visiting Fellows at the Human Rights Program (HRP), which had been created just two years before. While at HRP, Tiruchelvam delivered the Edward A. Smith Lecture about human rights in the context of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

On September 17, 1999, HRP organized a memorial service for Neelan Tiruchelvam at Harvard Law School. The memorial service proceedings are available on the HRP website.