April 14, 2017
Today, we have the most wonderful news: our beloved Bonnie Docherty has been promoted to Associate Director for Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection! Bonnie has been a leader in the disarmament movement since 2001, working to ban everything from cluster munitions to killer robots to nuclear weapons- and developing a generation of students into advocates along the way.
More on this in an article to come. In the meantime, here she is today, being celebrated by some of her many fans, all of whom raised a plastic glass of Diet Mountain Dew in her honor. Congratulations, Bonnie! You do us proud.
April 12, 2017
We’re very pleased to bring you two compelling events tomorrow, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Please see below.
“The treadmill to somewhere: The experience of a Judge at the European Court of Human Rights”
12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Lunch will be provided
Please join us for a talk by Prof. Dr. iur. Helen Keller, currently a judge of the European Court of Human Rights, who will reflect on the challenges and achievements of serving on the world’s most advanced – and overworked – international human rights court. Judge Keller is also a professor of law at the University of Zurich, a leading scholar of human rights law, and a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee.
“Private Revolutions: Young, Female, Egyptian”
5:00- 7:00 p.m.
Please join us for a screening of “Private Revolutions: Young, Female, Egyptian”, a documentary that chronicles over two years the lives of four young Egyptian women from various social backgrounds who are fighting for their rights and for change after the revolution. The director of the film, Alexandria Schneider, will join us afterwards for a discussion and Q & A.
The screening is the last in a film series presented by Islamic Legal Studies: Law and Social Change about women, rights, and activism in the Muslim world. HRP is co-sponsoring the series, which showcases films that highlight women’s struggles, conflicts, and triumphs across the region.
April 11, 2017
Tomorrow, April 12: Andrzej Rzeplinski, former President of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, on the rule of law in Poland
Our friends in the Working Group on Autocratic Legalism have called to our attention a particularly relevant event: Andrzej Rzeplinski, former president of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, will be discussing the Polish constitutional crisis tomorrow, focusing in on the rule of law.
The Polish government is now the subject of a “rule of law” procedure at the European Commission, accused of having violated the rule of law with its attacks on the Constitutional Tribunal. President Rzeplinski fought off these attacks until the end of his regular term in January 2017, at which point the Court was captured by the government and now no longer challenges the government’s unconstitutional actions.
The conversation between President Rzeplinski and Visiting Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, who focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress, will run from 10:00- 11:30 a.m. in WCC B010.
April 9, 2017
Monday, April 10, 2017
“One year in: Examining Myanmar’s democratic transition”
A talk by Matthew Bugher, JD ’09
12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Please join us for a talk by Matthew Bugher, an HLS alumnus with experience investigating international crimes in Myanmar. He will discuss his work promoting accountability for human rights abuses, and reflect on the possible establishment of an international commission of inquiry for decades of violations in Myanmar.
This talk is part of a two-part series that looks at change in Myanmar since the election of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, and the progress underway to protect human rights, achieve peace, and address the legacy of abuses and conflict in Myanmar dating back to the 1950s.
April 7, 2017
Because we believe that every month should include an International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating it again this month by sharing videos from last month’s official celebration at HLS. Either that, or we got caught up in other things around the Human Rights Program and neglected to post these videos in a timely manner.
If you visit our account on YouTube, you’ll find the following powerful testimonies offered by: Doris Rena-Landaveirde, union leader and member of the HLS custodial staff; our very own Susan Farbstein, Co-Director, International Human Rights Clinic; Aparna Gokhale, JD ’17; Radhika Chitkara, LLM ’17; . and Esme Caramello, Faculty Director, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Deborah Anker, Director, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, also spoke but unfortunately we’re missing that video.
Thanks to the powerhouse women below- Yee Htun, Clinical Advocacy Fellow; Anna Crowe, Clinical Instructor; and Emily Nagisa Keehn, Assistant Director of the Academic Program- for organizing this event that drew more than 100 students, staff and faculty to Belinda Hall on March 8. Thanks also to the women who stood in front of that community and inspired and energized us with their words. And thanks finally to all the women we know- and the billions we do not- who have pushed for change, in whatever way they can, so that we are stronger and more secure and ready to push for MORE.
April 6, 2017
Several weeks ago, Tyler Giannini, Co-Director of the International Human Rights Clinic, and Yee Htun, Clinical Advocacy Fellow, presented a webinar for Harvard Law School alumni on human rights and Myanmar’s transition from military rule. The talk was so popular, the school asked if it could feature it as part of its bicentennial celebration.
Great work, Tyler and Yee.
April 4, 2017
Just days after the historic nuclear ban treaty negotiations at the UN, we were so pleased to welcome two leaders in the disarmament field to HLS: Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and Richard Moyes, managing director of Article 36. They offered their perspectives on the process that led to treaty negotiations; reflected on the opening session in March; and talked about the work still to be done and their hopes for the final outcome.
See below for video of the event, which was moderated by their colleague and ours, Senior Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty.
April 4, 2017
April 4, 2017
“Is there an existential threat to human rights?”
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Please join the Human Rights Program for a discussion with Professors Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein, Co-Directors of the International Human Rights Clinic, who will examine global trends, the changing nature of U.S. exceptionalism, and human rights methods in the post-truth atmosphere. More broadly, they will consider whether there are existential threats facing human rights and the human rights movement. This is the final event in the Human Rights Program’s three-part Shifting Ground series, which reflects on the human rights landscape after the election of President Trump.
April 3, 2017
“Banning nuclear weapons: A milestone for disarmament”
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Please join us for a conversation with two disarmament leaders, who will be coming straight from the UN’s groundbreaking negotiations of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and Richard Moyes, managing director of Article 36, have played significant roles in reframing the nuclear weapons debate as a humanitarian issue rather than a national security one. That shift helped drive the UN General Assembly to break a decades-long stalemate and commit to banning nuclear weapons. Fihn and Moyes will offer a civil society perspective on the process that led to treaty negotiations and reflect on the opening session in March. They will also talk about the work still to be done and their hopes for the final outcome.
March 30, 2017
This opinion piece by Clinical Advocacy Fellow Yee Htun and Tyler Giannini, co-director of the International Human Rights Clinic, appeared in The Irrawaddy on March 29, 2017
UN Investigation Can Help Myanmar Down the Path of Democracy
At first glance, the UN Human Rights Council resolution passed on Myanmar looks like a rebuke of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) government. The resolution calls for an international investigation into “alleged recent human rights violations by the military and security forces,” singling out Rakhine State in particular for scrutiny.
Given her muted public response to the violence, her government’s denials, and the lack of any serious domestic investigation to date, it would be easy to lay a lot of the blame at Aung San Suu Kyi’s door. But the real story remains in plain sight: there are roadblocks that prevent her and the civilian government from investigating and controlling the abuses of security forces. These roadblocks are rooted in the country’s Constitution, adopted by the military in 2008, and until they are removed, domestic and international maneuvering will be necessary to pressure the military to change its violent ways.
This is not the first time that we have seen Myanmar’s Constitution fail its citizens. Despite her party winning the first open elections in a generation, Aung San Suu Kyi herself was denied the presidency under the Constitution. She and her party had to resort to creating a new position – State Counselor – that has made her the de facto leader of the government. It was a creative, and necessary, move to bring a just outcome to the election.
Similarly, the international investigation is a necessary move, given that Myanmar is missing the basic checks that a functioning democracy requires. Since October, the security forces have allegedly killed as many as 1,000 people and forced an estimated 77,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes in northern Rakhine State to Bangladesh. These security forces are legally and factually controlled by the military. Continue Reading…