October 16, 2018

Salma Waheedi Co-Authors Article on Muslim Family Law Reform


Salma Waheedi, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law at the International Human Rights Clinic and Associate Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change, has co-authored an article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender with Kristen A. Stilt, Professor of Law and Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program, and Swathi Gandhavadi Griffin, practicing attorney. The article, “Ambitions of Muslim Family Law Reform,” examines Islamic legal arguments and strategies used to support family law reform.

The co-authors state:

“Family law in Muslim-majority countries has undergone tremendous change over the past century, and this process continues today with both intensity and controversy. In general, this change has been considered “reform,” defined loosely as the amendment of existing family laws that are based on or justified by Islamic legal rules in an effort to improve the rights of women and children. Advocates seeking to reform family law typically make legal arguments grounded in Islamic law, thus explicitly or implicitly conceding the Islamic characterization of family law. This ‘reform from within’ approach has grown in recent years and the legal arguments have become more ambitious as women’s groups have become more involved and vocal.”

The article identifies and examines the landscape of legal arguments that are used and are needed to support change and analyzes the ambitious, possibilities, and limitations of reform in Muslim family law today.

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October 12, 2018

ACCPI Releases New Resources To Advance Humanitarian Disarmament

Posted by Bonnie Docherty

Experts gathered at Harvard Law School in March 2018 to plan next steps in the field of humanitarian disarmament.

Humanitarian disarmament has become a highly effective and firmly established means of dealing with arms-induced human suffering. This year, it has celebrated many milestones that highlight its achievements. These milestones have also generated forward-looking discussions about how civil society campaigns can best work together to advance humanitarian disarmament’s overarching aim.

In March, Harvard Law School’s Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) assembled 25 humanitarian disarmament leaders from around the world for a two-day conference in which they could reflect on the state of the field and strategize about its future. The ACCPI has produced a summary of the conference and its conclusions in a new 27-page report Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead. It has also launched the website humanitariandisarmament.com, which will serve experts and the public alike.

Humanitarian disarmament seeks to prevent and remediate harm caused by arms and related activities through the establishment of norms. It is a people-centered approach, driven by civil society campaigns, that focuses on human rather than national security.

The past twelve months have marked several key anniversaries for humanitarian disarmament including the twentieth anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty, the tenth of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the fifth of the Arms Trade Treaty, and the first of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Campaigns to address other issues, including fully autonomous weapons, the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, and toxic remnants of war, are underway.

As the summary explains in more detail, conference participants identified three primary goals for the next five years of humanitarian disarmament. They agreed their community should strive to increase its diversity and inclusion, collaborate more efficiently and effectively, and take steps to ensure sustainability and foster a new generation of advocates.

To achieve these goals, participants recommended prioritizing the development of shared messaging, education about the concept of humanitarian disarmament, expansion of the community and its supporters, cross-campaign collaboration, and maximization of limited resources.

The ACCPI created the humanitariandisarmament.org website in response to several of these priorities. The website is designed to increase awareness and improve understanding of humanitarian disarmament. It will also facilitate coordination across campaigns by serving as a hub of information on the topic.

The ACCPI plans to continue its support of humanitarian disarmament by advocating on behalf of the campaigns, cultivating the next generation of leaders, and promoting innovation within the community of practice.

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October 2, 2018

New Book: Human Rights, Democracy, and Legitimacy in a World of Disorder, Edited by Gerald L. Neuman and Silja Voeneky


Gerald L. Neuman, HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law and Silja Voeneky, Co-Director of the Institute for Public Law and Professor of Public International Law, Comparative Law and Ethics of Law at the University of Freiburg and former Visiting Fellow at HRP, have published a new edited volume, Human Rights, Democracy, and Legitimacy in a World of Disorder (Cambridge University Press). The book examines how and why the concepts of human rights, democracy, and legitimacy matter in the conditions of international disorder brought about by the 21st century.

Building from an interdisciplinary symposium organized by Professor Voeneky for HRP in 2016, authors’ perspectives draw from philosophy, history, and legal theory. Their contributions explore the role of human rights, democracy, and legitimacy in addressing such problems as economic inequality, access to health care, mass migration, and the catastrophic risks posed by new technologies.

“Which conceptions of rights can help us find legitimate solutions to the new challenges that social and technological change are raising?  That is the urgent question that we gathered to debate,” said Neuman.

Professor Neuman authored a chapter on “Human Rights, Treaties, and International Legitimacy,” and HRP Co-Director and Clinical Professor of Law Tyler R. Giannini contributed a chapter on, “Political Legitimacy and Private Governance of Human Rights: Community-Business Social Contracts and Constitutional Moments,” which examines how to maximize human rights protection in situations where a functioning State is largely absent.

Additional contributions come from notable academics, such as Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History at Yale University; I. Glenn Cohen, James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law at HLS; Matthias Risse, Professor of Public Policy and Philosophy at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Iris Goldner Lang, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and UNESCO Chair on Free Movement of People, Migration and Inter-cultural Dialogue at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Law.

The book is available now as an e-book and in print from October 11, 2018.

 

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September 26, 2018

Human Rights Watch Releases Brief on Houthi Hostage-Taking in Yemen

International Human Rights Clinic Students Contribute Research

Illustration Credit: Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch released a brief on Tuesday documenting illegal imprisonment and serious abuses by Yemen’s Houthi rebel forces against detainees in their custody.  The brief uses investigative and legal research conducted by students of the International Human Rights Clinic on Houthi practices of hostage-taking and torture, and documents dozens of cases in which Houthis held people unlawfully and profited from their detention since 2014.  It also calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen to investigate and identify those responsible for abuses.

“The Houthis have added profiteering to their long list of abuses and offenses against the people under their control in Yemen,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than treat detainees humanely, some Houthi officials are exploiting their power to turn a profit through detention, torture, and murder.”

International Human Rights Clinic students who contributed to this research include Zeineb Bouraoui, LLM ’18, Danesha Grady (Berkeley) ’JD 18, Tarek Zeidan, HKS MPA ’18, and Canem Ozyildirim, JD ’18.

Read the full brief here: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/09/25/yemen-houthi-hostage-taking.

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September 25, 2018

Fall 2018 Events Lineup

Posted by Dana Walters

Piovesan (center) spoke to a packed room while HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law Gerald L. Neuman moderated. Also pictured: Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Emeritus Henry Steiner.

Each year, the Human Rights Program organizes dozens of events examining critical issues in human rights. These range from talks with activists addressing pressing developments to gatherings with academics engaging in deep scholarship.

So far this semester, we hosted Professor Flávia Piovesan, a commissioner for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who spoke about the impact of and challenges currently facing the Inter-American human rights system. Dr. Piovesan’s talk is one of the first in a series of HRP-hosted events this fall honoring and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also hosted a panel as part of Celebration65, the 65th anniversary of the first women graduates of Harvard Law School, where Clinic alumni and instructors spoke at length about gender justice in human rights clinical training.

In addition, this semester, we have invited a number of notable guests as part of our events series:

On Oct. 22nd, Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, the Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance, will speak about her book, There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia, her new narrative non-fiction account about the rise of paramilitiaries, the cocaine trade, and the resulting violence and turmoil in Colombia.

On Nov. 6th, we will host Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, to talk about his work.

On Nov. 13th, editors and contributors of the book Protecting Migrant Children: In Search of Best Practice, will speak about their contributions to the anthology and the field. This includes editors Mary Crock, Professor of Public Law at Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney, and Lenni B. Benson, Professor of Law, New York Law School, and contributing author, Gerald L. Neuman, HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law.

On Nov. 15th, we will host Henry J. Steiner Visiting Professor in Human Rights Raymond A. Atuguba to discuss his work at the intersection of community lawyering, international human rights, and development. 

Stay tuned as we post more events honoring the UDHR anniversary, including a celebration symposium for the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute, and a panel in October where we will examine accountability litigation in the United States, as well as a co-sponsored film series with the Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change. Keep up to date with our events and goings-on by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Check out our YouTube and SoundCloud accounts for video and audio of events you missed.

Below: On the left, Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor Anna Crowe LLM’12 and Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor Yee Htun spoke about their experience teaching in the International Human Rights Clinic and how they train human rights practitioners with an eye toward gender justice advocacy, and on the right, Fordham University Clinical Professor of Law and Leitner International Human Rights Clinic Director Chi Adanna Mgbako JD’05 spoke in the same panel moderated by Harvard Law’s International Human Rights Clinic Co-Director and Clinical Professor of Law Susan H. Farbstein JD’04. Photo Credit: Martha Stewart.

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September 24, 2018

Sept. 24: The Inter-American Human Rights System: Impact, Challenges, and Perspectives


Sept. 24, 2018

A Talk by Professor Flávia Piovesan

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 3011

Join the Human Rights Program (HRP) for a lunch discussion with Professor Flávia Piovesan, commissioner for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on the impact of and challenges currently facing the Inter-American human rights system. Dr. Piovesan is a professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights at the Catholic University of São Paulo. She also teaches at the University of Buenos Aires and at the Academy on Human Rights at the American University Washington College of Law. Previously, she was a member of the UN High Level Task Force on the implementation of the right to development (2009-2012), and was Special Secretary for Human Rights in Brazil and President of the National Commission for the Eradication of Forced Labor (2016-2017). The talk will be moderated by Professor Gerald L. Neuman, HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International and Comparative Law.

Co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights and the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Lunch will be served.

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September 13, 2018

Clinic Releases Joint Briefing Papers on Refugee Freedom of Movement and Business Documentation in Kakuma, Kenya

Posted by Anna Crowe

The International Human Rights Clinic and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Kenya released two briefing papers today highlighting the importance of freedom of movement and business documentation for refugees living in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp and the associated Kalobeyei settlement. Kakuma and Kalobeyei are home to close to 186,000 refugees, and Kakuma camp itself is one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

Under Kenyan law, all refugees are required to live in and remain within designated refugee camps – to leave a camp without permission is a criminal offence. “Supporting Kakuma’s Refugees: The Importance of Freedom of Movement” explores the ways in which movement restrictions affect the lives and livelihoods of Kakuma’s refugees and limit their opportunities to participate in the local economy and Kenyan society. It seeks to encourage local and national actors to consider alternatives to Kenya’s current encampment policy and rethink existing practices around the temporary movement regime in place in the camps, which refugees described as opaque, arbitrary, and unpredictable.

Formal work and employment opportunities are largely inaccessible to Kakuma’s refugees, and most rely on humanitarian assistance as their primary form of support. Nonetheless, Kakuma has a thriving informal economy and a sizeable number of refugees run informal businesses there, providing goods and services to other refugees, as well as the local community. “Supporting Kakuma’s Refugee Traders: The Importance of Business Documentation in an Informal Economy” focuses on refugees running businesses in the camp and their experiences obtaining mandatory local government-issued business permits. It aims to contribute to ongoing discussions on how to ensure that business permit practices help refugees to safely run businesses and support refugees to exercise their right to work.

The briefing papers are part of a longer-term collaboration with NRC, which in 2017 included examining the documentation challenges refugees living in Nairobi face. Clinic students Haroula Gkotsi JD’19, Niku Jafarnia JD’19, Alexandra Jumper JD‘18, Daniel Levine-Spound JD’19, Julius Mitchell JD’19, and Sara Oh JD’19 worked on the briefing papers, including through desk research and fieldwork.

 

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September 11, 2018

Emily Nagisa Keehn Co-Authors Case Study on Reducing Overcrowding in South African Detention Facility


Emily Nagisa Keehn, Associate Director of the Academic Program, has recently co-authored an article with Ariane Nevin from Sonke Gender Justice on human rights advocacy to reduce overcrowding in South African incarceration facilities and its relationship to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other health outcomes. Part of a research series under the Evidence for HIV Prevention in Southern Africa (EHPSA) initiative, the case study focuses on advocacy and impact litigation directed at Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility, one of South Africa’s most notoriously crowded and inhumane detention facilities and where Nelson Mandela was previously incarcerated and developed tuberculosis. Keehn and Nevin place the attempt to reduce overcrowding within the broader landscape of criminal justice reform in South Africa.

Pollsmoor Remand houses people awaiting trial and sentencing; it has experienced acute overcrowding since the early 2000s, with its occupancy spiking over 300% capacity. As the coauthors state:

“In 2015, after years of lobbying to reduce overcrowding and in the face of inertia on the part of policymakers and legislators, civil society escalated its advocacy and mounted a constitutional challenge in the Western Cape High Court with the case, Sonke Gender Justice v. the Government of South Africa.

In 2016, the judge ruled against the government and made a historic order to reduce occupancy to 150% of its capacity over a six-month period. By February 2017, the Department of Correctional Services…had already taken steps to reduce overcrowding at the facility from 252% to 174%…This case study describes the complex change process that enabled this reform and the contributions of different forms of advocacy by key actors.”

This paper is part of the series Included! How change happened for key populations for HIV prevention, commissioned by EHPSA to Sonke Gender Justice. EHPSA is a multi-country research initiative that examines HIV prevention in incarcerated populations, adolescents, and men who have sex with men. The full series of nine case studies and a discussion paper is available on the EHPSA website.

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September 10, 2018

TODAY, Sept. 11: Human Rights Program Orientation

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 1010

Join us for pizza and an overview of the Human Rights Program and how you can get involved! We’ll give you information on our International Human Rights Clinic; summer funding for human rights internships; post-graduate fellowships; events and conferences; and the larger human rights community at Harvard Law School. Then it’s your turn: mix and mingle with instructors from the Clinic, Visiting Fellows from the Academic Program, as well as representatives from student groups focused on human rights, such as HLS Advocates for Human Rights.

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September 7, 2018

TODAY: Facebook Live Q&A on Myanmar with Professor Tyler Giannini, Lecturer Yee Htun, and Paras Shah, JD’19


Drop by our Facebook today at 2:30 pm EDT for a Facebook Live Q&A with HRP and IHRC Co-Director and Clinical Professor of Law Tyler Giannini and Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor Yee Htun. Clinical student Paras Shah, JD’19, will interview Giannini and Htun on the recent international conversation around Myanmar, focusing on the International Criminal Court ruling yesterday on its jurisdiction over the Rohingya deportations from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

You can find more details on yesterday’s announcement here, and view the full text of the ICC ruling here and here.

Learn more about the Clinic’s previous work on Myanmar here.

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