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April 22, 2013
Posted by Bonnie Docherty
The Boston Marathon has long held a special place in my heart. In an earlier life, I covered the event for three years as a reporter for the Middlesex News, now known as the MetroWest Daily News. My beat at the time encompassed two towns along the route—Hopkinton and Natick.
Beyond combining a challenging assignment and a festive atmosphere, the Marathon provided an annual source of inspiration. In 1996, I stood at the starting line in Hopkinton for the 100th running of the storied race, when record numbers of athletes set off with enthusiasm and determination. The next year marked the 25th anniversary of women’s official participation, and I had the honor of interviewing several of those who helped to break the gender barrier.
I dreamed of running the race myself, and although I never have, reporting on it was one of the highlights of my newspaper career. I think fondly of the Marathon every Patriots Day.
A week ago, uplifting memories from my years as a journalist collided with my current work as a human rights researcher. Over the past 12 years, I have documented the effects of armed conflict on civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Georgia, Libya, and elsewhere.
The news reports of horrific injuries and lost limbs at the Marathon’s finish line immediately conjured up images of war wounds I have seen. Eyewitness accounts echoed those I have heard in far-away conflict zones. And the red sidewalk on Boylston Street brought to mind the bloody ground in Lebanon where a cluster munition dud killed a 12-year-old boy two hours before I arrived.
The weapons that inflicted the injuries in Boston had an unnerving similarity to munitions I have investigated overseas. The ball bearings packed in the homemade bombs closely resembled those used in rocket attacks in the Middle East. I show samples of these steel spheres to my classes when explaining how they serve to maximize bodily harm. Continue Reading…
April 17, 2013
April 17, 2013
“MSI Integrity: A New Business and Human Rights Organization”
Drinks will be served!
Join the International Human Rights Clinic for the launch of the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity, a non-profit organization the Clinic has helped get off the ground. MSI Integrity aims to strengthen the ability of multi-stakeholder initiatives, like Fairtrade and the Kimberley Process, to respect human rights, prevent violations, and remedy abuses.
April 16, 2013
Posted by Bonnie Docherty
Today we released a joint paper with Human Rights Watch advocating for stricter U.S. policy on fully autonomous weapons, sometimes known as “killer robots.” The paper critiques a new U.S. Department of Defense policy on these weapons, which represents a positive step but is not a panacea to the problem.
See below for the press release from Human Rights Watch, and stay tuned for news of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which launches in London next week.
U.S.: Ban Fully Autonomous Weapons
U.S. Policy on Autonomy in Weapons Systems is First in the World
(Washington, DC, April 16, 2013) – Temporary US restrictions on lethal fully autonomous weapons should be strengthened and made permanent. Fully autonomous weapons, sometimes called “killer robots,” would be able to select and attack targets on their own without any human intervention.
In acknowledgement of the challenges such weapons would pose, the US Department of Defense issued a directive on November 21, 2012, that, for now, requires a human being to be “in-the-loop” when decisions are made about using lethal force. This was the department’s first public policy on autonomy in weapons systems and the first policy announcement by any country on fully autonomous weapons.
“This policy shows that the United States shares our concern that fully autonomous weapons could endanger civilians in many ways,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “Humans should never delegate to machines the power to make life-and-death decisions on the battlefield. US policy should lay the basis for a permanent, comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons.”
The briefing paper by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic reviews the content of the new directive and notes that it is a positive step. For up to 10 years, Directive Number 3000.09 generally allows the Department of Defense to develop or use only fully autonomous systems that deliver non-lethal force. In effect, it constitutes the world’s first moratorium on lethal fully autonomous weapons. Continue Reading…
April 10, 2013
April 11, 2013
“Litigating the Right to Health: Comparative Perspectives from Across the Globe”
A Harvard Human Rights Journal Symposium
Wasserstein Hall 3019
Harvard Law School
Come join the Harvard Human Rights Journal and an illustrious group of experts for a symposium on how courts have treated the right to health and how its justiciability has affected access to healthcare and medicine across the globe.
Panelists include Prof. Katharine Young from the Australian National University College of Law, Prof. Julieta Lemaitre from the Universidad de los Andes Law School in Colombia, Prof. Colleen Flood from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Prof. Frederick Abbott from Florida State University College of Law.
More information is available at: http://harvardhrj.com/2013-symposium/
April 9, 2013
by Shane Darcy, Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program
Lecturer in Law, Irish Centre for Human Rights
Over the past several years, the topic of corporate behavior has moved from the periphery of the human rights discussion to become an area of concerted focus for international organizations and human rights NGOs. States and companies are paying closer attention to calls for enhanced accountability for corporate activities that impact on human rights, from child labor to internet censorship.
As a lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, I have been teaching a course on business and human rights for the past few years, focusing on international developments but also exploring how Ireland fits into this trend.
Ireland was recently found to be the world’s third “most globalized economy,” after Singapore and Hong Kong. It is home to the European headquarters of some of the largest multinational corporations, including Apple, Facebook and Google, no strangers to human rights controversies. Shell’s gas pipeline in Mayo has probably been the most notable case recently of corporate activities clashing with community interests in Ireland. And yet, the topic of business and human rights in the country has not been given the attention it deserves.
With that in mind, last month I started a blog, Business and Human Rights in Ireland, which will track and analyze developments from an Irish perspective, with an eye also to the international context. I’ll address legal and policy issues in the blog, as well as highlight human rights concerns from the activities of Irish companies or multinational corporations based in Ireland.
I’ll also use this forum to highlight any developments arising from a 2012 Irish Centre for Human Rights report, ‘Business and Human Rights in Ireland,’ which I co-authored. That report drew on the UN Framework and Guiding Principles and made a list of recommendations for the Irish Government, companies and civil society. I hope that visitors enjoy the blog.
April 5, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
“Women Attorneys Working with International Clients:
Challenges and Advantages”
12- 1 pm
Explore the challenges and advantages of working with international clients as a women attorney with practitioners from both the public and private sectors. Panelists include Susan Farbstein, Clinical Professor in the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic and co-counsel in In re South African Apartheid Litigation; Meeta Anand, an associate in the White & Case LLP project finance group with extensive experience working with Latin American clients, both as an attorney and an investment banker; and Carolina Walther-Meade, a partner in the Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy Project Finance and Latin American Practice Groups who spends a significant amount of time in the firm’s São Paulo office.
The attorneys will discuss issues ranging from the role that gender plays in client interactions, potential problems that may arise, and strategies for addressing these problems. Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain, who has served as expert and consultant to the UN OHCHR and UN WOMEN and for the Office of the UN Secretary-General, will moderate.
Co-sponsored by the Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund
April 3, 2013
Posted by Jeanne Segil, JD '14
Our partners in South Africa, Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), are at a critical point in their ongoing campaign to compel the South African government to establish minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure. The South African Schools Act of 1996 empowered the Minister of Basic Education to set minimum norms and standards for all schools. These regulations were never established and, as a result, many South African schools—particularly those in rural areas and townships—lack basic essentials such as running water, electricity, functioning toilets, libraries, laboratories, computer centers, and perimeter security. Binding norms and standards can help equalize the learning experience in a nation still suffering from the legacy of apartheid.
EE asked Minister Angie Motshekga to issue these regulations for years before eventually filing legal action in March 2012, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, to compel her to act. Last November, Minister Motshekga agreed to a settle the case and, as part of the settlement, to promulgate binding norms and standards. As a first step in this process, in January the Minister published Draft Minimum Norms and Standards for comment from interested parties.
Unfortunately, the draft is disappointingly vague on substance. Any school infrastructure, no matter how problematic, could meet its standards. For example, under the proposed guidelines, it could still be acceptable to have 70 students packed into a single classroom, or to provide three pit latrines and two water taps at a school of 3000 students. Equally troubling, the draft does not establish any timelines for implementation or any mechanisms for reporting or accountability. Continue Reading…
April 2, 2013
April 3, 2013
“Defending Political Prisoners in Belarus”
Maryna Kavaleuskaya, LLM ’13, will discuss her personal and professional experience as an attorney in Belarus, challenging the repressive and corrupt practices of the national judicial and penitentiary system and appealing to the UN Human Rights Committee.
Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program, the Graduate Program, International Legal Studies, and the Harvard National Security & Law Association.
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