October 31, 2017

Tomorrow, Nov. 1: Conversation with Dr. Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A conversation with Dr. Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Austin 111

Please join us for a talk by Dr. Agnès Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who will discuss her recent report on a gender-sensitive approach to the topic of arbitrary killings. In addition to Dr. Callamard’s mandate from the United Nations, she is the director of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression initiative. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Article 19, the founder of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, and the Chef de Cabinet for the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

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October 30, 2017

Tomorrow, Oct. 30: A conversation with Dr. Yanghee Lee, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar


Monday, October 30, 2017

A Conversation with Dr. Yanghee Lee, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 2009

Please join us for a conversation with Dr. Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who will discuss the Rohingya crisis and more broadly, the country’s transition to democratic rule. Dr. Lee will share her insights on key challenges facing Myanmar, including the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities. She will also offer her recommendations for consolidating peace in Myanmar and creating a culture of human rights.

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October 26, 2017

Staff Reflection: Remembering Someone I Never Knew

Posted by Bonnie Docherty


Carl Thorne-Thomsen with high school friend Linda Jones Docherty, mother of the author. Photo from the 1964 Lake Forest High School yearbook, courtesy of Linda Docherty.

Although I never met Carl Thorne-Thomsen, I’ve known about him for as long as I can remember.

I distinctly recall driving down the road to my grandparents’ home in Lake Forest, IL, as my mother told me about her close high school friend who had died in Vietnam. Carl had opposed the war, she explained, but he felt it was unjust for him to be sheltered from the draft while others with less privilege were sent to fight in Southeast Asia. In a quiet act of protest, he withdrew from Harvard College during his junior year and was drafted in April 1967. Two months after arriving in Vietnam, and 50 years ago this week, he was killed in combat.

Although I was in elementary school at the time of this conversation, Carl’s decision to live—and die—by his principles made a vivid impression on me. Decades later, having spent most of my career on issues of armed conflict, I still find myself compelled. The 50th anniversary of his death motivated me to track down more information through archives and interviews and to write a Vita for Harvard Magazine’s September/October issue.

Thorne-Thomsen (fourth from the left) with his crew teammates. Photo courtesy of Harvard University Archives.

Carl’s story demonstrates the power of an individual to have a lasting impact. Virtually everyone I interviewed used the word “special” to describe him. Crew teammates and fellow soldiers alike cited the strength of character Carl showed in standing up against the inequity of the draft. On the battlefield, his bravery as a radio operator saved lives. Several Harvard classmates said they had sought out Carl’s name on the Vietnam Wall, and for decades, his commanding officer carried with him a letter Carl’s mother sent after she received the news of his death. An unexpected reward of doing my story was to share with his still grieving family how others remembered him.

My own admiration for Carl has only grown as I have done more research and talked with people who knew him personally. He made sacrifices for his principles yet did so in private way. Many of his classmates and comrades-in-arms did not know until recently how a Harvard student ended up as an enlisted man in Vietnam. Carl hated injustice, and whether on campus or in a combat zone, he treated everyone with the same respect. In the end, he left a legacy of courage and character that remains an inspiration.

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October 25, 2017

This Week: HRP Participates in “HLS in the World” Bicentennial Celebration


This week Harvard Law School celebrates its bicentennial with a two-day event, “HLS in the World.” For those who are registered and planning to attend, the Human Rights Program hopes to see you at the two events we are hosting, both on Friday, Oct. 27. Details below.

 

How Does International Human Rights Law Make a Difference in the World?

9:00 – 10:30 am

At this panel discussion, experts with a range of experiences and perspectives will discuss whether and how international human rights law has real-world effects on preventing and redressing human rights abuses. The panel will include HLS graduates with experience in government, international organizations, advocacy, and academia, as well as a political scientist who studies the question empirically.

Gerald L. Neuman, Co-Director of HRP and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include: Harold Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School; Viviana Krsticevic, LLM ‘93, Executive Director, Center for Justice and International Law; Makau Mutua, LLM ‘85, SJD ’87, Distinguished Professor; Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar, University at Buffalo, School of Law; Tyler Giannini, Co-Director of HRP and the International Human Rights Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law; and Kathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

 

Conversations with the Human Rights Program

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Jarvis Field, the Hub

 

This is a lunchtime meet and greet with HRP’s faculty, staff, fellows, and students.  In a casual setting, we will share some of the exciting work our Academic Program and International Human Rights Clinic are doing to tackle pressing human rights challenges while working with students in a pedagogically innovative environment. Come learn about our work in Myanmar, efforts to ban nuclear weapons, litigation to hold human rights abusers accountable in the United States, and an upcoming conference about how populist movements are affecting human rights.

To learn more, please visit the website for “HLS in the World” here.

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October 17, 2017

Tomorrow, Oct. 18: “In Search of a Better World”


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“In Search of a Better World”

A book talk by Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law, McGill University

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 3019

Please join us for a book talk by Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, a member of the International Court of Arbitration, and a former UN prosecutor at The Hague. In his book, “In Search of a Better World,” he argues that deceptive utopias, political cynicism, and public apathy have given rise to major human rights abuses: from the religious persecution of Iranian Bahá’ís that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and the rise of contemporary phenomena such as the Islamic State. Payam also argues for an empathy based approach to human rights that gives primacy to the experience of survivors and acknowledges our inextricable interdependence as a global society.

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October 16, 2017

Tomorrow, Oct. 17: Paving the Way for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017

“Humanization of Arms Control: Paving the Way for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons”

A book talk by Daniel Rietiker, Senior Lawyer, European Court of Human Rights

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 3007

Lunch will be served

 

 

 

Please join us for a talk with Daniel Rietiker to discuss his recent book, “Humanization of Arms Control: Paving the Way for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” in which he argues for putting human beings, rather than state security, at the center of disarmament law. After laying out the history of this approach in previous treaties, he will examine how it has played out in the negotiations and text of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Dr. Rietiker, a former Visiting Fellow with the Human Rights Program, is a senior lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights, an adjunct professor of public international law at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), and a member of adjunct faculty at Suffolk University Law School.

This event is part of the International Human Rights Clinic’s work on armed conflict and civilian protection.

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October 13, 2017

UPDATED: New Information Conflicts with Syrian Human Rights Filmmaker’s Reported Assassination Attempt


UPDATE:  Since we posted this statement, new information has come to light which appears to contradict the widely reported story that Muhammad Bayazid was stabbed in an assassination attempt. More on that in The Guardian and the BBC

The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School is shocked and saddened by news of the reported assassination attempt on Syrian filmmaker Muhammad Bayazid, whom we hosted – along with his wife and partner in filmmaking, Samah Safi Bayazid – only days earlier for a discussion with our students. They were here in conjunction with a co-sponsored screening of two of their award-winning short films, “Fireplace” and “Orshena.” Bayazid was stabbed in the chest in Turkey on Tuesday night, as he sought funds for his new film project detailing Assad regime’s abuses at notorious Tadmur prison.

“When we chose this life we knew what it meant, because we aren’t from places like America where we can express our opinions,” Samah Safi Bayazid told the Guardian Newspaper. “It’s very hard if you’re an Arab to fight against oppression, your life is always in danger. He was stabbed and I nearly had a stroke just because we wanted to do a film on human rights.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Muhammad, Samah, and their family and we wish him a speedy recovery.  We would also like to express our support of his work in exposing human rights violations and shedding light on the devastating humanitarian cost of the Syrian crisis, and urge a full and proper investigation of this incident.

The attempt on Muhammad Bayazid’s life was the latest in a series of attacks that took place in Turkey targeting outspoken supporters of the Syrian opposition.  Last month, prominent Syrian opposition activist Orouba Barakat and her journalist daughter Hala Barakat were stabbed to death in Istanbul.  Other victims in the past two years include Syrian journalists and anti-Isis activists Naji Jarf and Zaher Al-Shurqat.

For more details on the incident, read this article in The Guardian or this piece on the BBC.

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October 12, 2017

Today, Oct. 12: A Conversation with Sana Mustafa, Syrian Refugee and Refugee Rights Activist


Thursday, October 12, 2017

“Putting a Face on the Numbers”

A talk by Sana Mustafa, Syrian Refugee and Refugee Rights Activist

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 2004

Please join us for a talk by Sana Mustafa, a Syrian refugee and advocate for refugee rights who will share her story of growing up in Syria, revolting against the Assad regime, fleeing the horrors of war, and starting a new life in the US. She will also speak about her new path as an activist and advocate for the rights of Syrian refugees worldwide. A refugee since 2013, Mustafa is now a consultant to various US and international institutions on designing engagement projects related to refugee integration and protecting the rights of victims of the Syrian humanitarian crisis.

This event is being sponsored by the Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change, Criminal Justice Program, and the Human Rights Program. Vegan lunch will be served.

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October 6, 2017

Clinic’s Partner in Negotiations of Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Bonnie Docherty

We are thrilled to announce that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with which we collaborated during the negotiations of a nuclear weapon ban treaty, received the Nobel Peace Prize today. The honor reflects international recognition of the humanitarian approach to disarmament, a movement that strives to minimize civilian suffering from inhumane weapons.

Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, president of the negotiations, and Setsuko Thorlow, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, embrace after adoption of the nuclear weapon ban treaty.

Over the past decade, ICAN has changed the course of nuclear disarmament by shifting the focus from national security to the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences these weapons cause.  Their work and the invaluable advocacy of survivors of nuclear weapons use in conflict and testing helped lead to an international ban on the weapons this summer.

The International Human Rights Clinic joined ICAN and UK-based disarmament organization Article 36 in the efforts for the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Supervisors Bonnie Docherty and Anna Crowe, along with a team of four students, provided legal support to the campaign during the treaty negotiations at the United Nations in New York.  They also advocated successfully for the inclusion of obligations to assist victims and remediate the environment harmed.

More than 120 countries adopted the treaty in July. Fifty-three have signed the treaty since it opened for signature last month. In so doing, those countries have committed to abiding by the object and purpose of the instrument.

Civil society will now turn its attention to urging more states to sign and ratify the ban treaty. The Clinic in particular will work for strong interpretation and implementation of its provisions.

In their statement announcing the award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wrote, “It is [our] firm conviction . . .  that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour.”

The committee also praised ICAN for filling a legal gap. Before the treaty, the other weapons of mass destruction—chemical and biological weapons—as well as several indiscriminate conventional weapons had been banned. Yet there were no global restrictions on the use of the world’s deadliest arms.

Although the nuclear weapons states and most of NATO boycotted the negotiations, the treaty and the Nobel Peace Prize highlight the value of declaring nuclear weapons to be illegal as well as immoral.  They also increase the stigma against the weapons and show that progress in nuclear disarmament is possible.

The “positive obligations” advocacy team, including IHRC students and supervisors, moments after adoption of the nuclear weapon ban treaty on July 7, 2017.

The Clinic has long been involved with humanitarian disarmament.  It contributed to the negotiations of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and is currently working to ban or strengthen international law on fully autonomous weapons, incendiary weapons, and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

At a time of heightened tensions between nuclear powers, ICAN’s well-deserved recognition reinforces our conviction that humanitarian disarmament is more essential and achievable than ever. We look forward to continuing this vital work.

 

The Clinic team consisted of Bonnie Docherty, associate director of armed conflict and civilian protection, Clinical Instructor Anna Crowe, Carina Bentata Gryting, JD ’18, Molly Doggett, JD ’17, Lan Mei, JD ’17, and Alice Osman, LLM ’17. For the students’ impressions of the negotiations, see this post.

 

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October 4, 2017

Tomorrow, Oct. 5: The Origins and Evolution of the Health & Human Rights Movement


Thursday, October 5, 2017

“The Origins and Evolution of the Health & Human Rights Movement”

A talk by Alicia Ely Yamin, Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and Andrés Constantin, Global Health Law Scholar, Georgetown University Law Center

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 3016

 

Please join us for a discussion with Alicia Ely Yamin, Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and Andrés Constantin, Global Health Law Scholar and LL.M. Candidate in Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center, on the topic of human rights advocacy within the context of health. The application of human rights frameworks to the study of health has had critical implications: it has extended the bounds of human and governmental agency; helped re-interpret norms in light of gendered and other experiences; demonstrated the porousness and arbitrariness of divides between the public and private, and political and economic realms; as well as created institutional frameworks and procedures at national and international levels. Throughout this history, the most significant source of human rights consciousness and energy has come from the diverse people who have been affected by, and collectively struggled against “pathologies of power.”

 

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