The Program for Medical Professionals, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: A Skirball Foundation Initiative

Project Overview:

The Program for Medical Professionals, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is a seven-year project concerning health professionals and human rights and humanitarian law standards in the context of counter terrorism and national security. Sponsored by the Skirball Foundation, the program aims to develop and promote human rights-based legal norms and to pursue legal actions to hold health professionals to account for their conduct in advising on interrogations and the conditions of detention, as well as forced feeding.

From left: Joyce Wagner of Iraq Veterans Against the War, X, and Y at a May 2013 workshop to share findings from the initiative.

From left: Joyce Wagner of Iraq Veterans Against the War, X, and Y at a May 2013 workshop to share findings from the initiative.

The Program initially convened a series of interdisciplinary workshops which explored: the institutional and structural pressures operating on such professionals; the role of individual agency and responsibility in various institutional settings; the identification of gaps and conflicts around relevant laws and ethical norms; and the development of useful interventions to strengthen awareness and adherence to legal and ethical frameworks, as well as to remedy ongoing and past violations.

By relying on expertise from diverse disciplinary and professional perspectives (e.g., law, medicine, public health, sociology, political science, history), this Program created synergies among workshop participants and served as a catalyst for critical reflection, comparative analysis and relevant collaborative scholarship. The ideas generated by this multidisciplinary approach fed directly into policy and advocacy activities, including projects with the International Human Rights Clinic under the supervision of Deborah Popowski, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law. Read more about her work on counterterrorism and human rights here.

For more information on this Program, please contact: Mindy Jane Roseman, Academic Director, Human Rights Program, or Deborah Popowski, Clinical Instructor, and former Skirball Fellow.

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