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April 30, 2019
Posted by Bonnie Docherty
As countries engage in national debates about joining the 2017 treaty banning nuclear weapons, they should focus on the treaty’s humanitarian and disarmament benefits.
To inform these discussions, the International Human Rights Clinic has released a new briefing paper and two government submissions that highlight the advantages of ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and seek to alleviate concerns some states may have.
Countries affected by nuclear weapon use and testing have much to gain from the TPNW’s provisions on victim assistance and environmental remediation. In a 9-page paper, the Clinic presents 10 myths and realities regarding the TPNW’s so-called “positive obligations.” It aims to raise awareness of these provisions and correct misconceptions and misrepresentations about their content.
The briefing paper explains how the TPNW spreads responsibility for assisting victims and remediating contaminated areas across states parties. While affected states should take the lead for practical and legal reasons, other states parties should support their efforts with technical, material, or financial assistance.
The paper also shows how the positive obligations can be effectively implemented and make a tangible difference, despite the devastating effects of nuclear weapons.
In recent government submissions, the Clinic has addressed the situation of countries that are members of or partners with NATO. It has called on Iceland and Sweden in particular to join the TPNW, but the arguments apply to any states in a comparable position.
Ratifying the TPNW would further these countries’ long-standing support of nuclear disarmament and promote compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. At the same time, members or partners of NATO or a similar alliance should not face legal obstacles to joining the TPNW. While a state party to the TPNW would have to renounce its nuclear umbrella status, it could continue to participate in joint military operations with nuclear-armed states.
As of April 30, 2019, the TPNW had 70 signatories and 23 states parties. It will enter into force when 50 states have become party.
Clinical students Molly Brown JD ’19, Maria Manghi JD ’20, and Ben Montgomery JD ’20 worked on these publications under the supervision of Bonnie Docherty, associate director of armed conflict and civilian protection.
April 8, 2019
The International Human Rights Clinic is seeking a Clinical Instructor to supervise law students in the Clinic and support Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights. Applications will only be accepted through Harvard University Human Resources. The full ad is below. Applications due May 5, 2019.
Position: Clinical Instructor – International Human Rights Clinic
Duties & Responsibilities
The International Human Rights Clinic (“the Clinic”), which is part of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, is inviting applications for a Clinical Instructor. The Clinical Instructor’s time will be allocated 50% to supervising law students enrolled for credit in the Clinic, and 50% to liaising with and supporting Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights (“Advocates”), the student practice organization affiliated with the Clinic.
The Clinic offers 2L and 3L students, as well as LLM students, the opportunity to work for academic credit on a variety of timely and complex human rights issues in partnership with clients, civil society organizations, and affected communities around the world, including in the United States. Through supervised practice and intense in-house mentorship, clinical students develop a range of skills necessary to become thoughtful, critical, creative, strategic, and effective human rights advocates. The Clinical Instructor will design, oversee, and execute clinical projects, and supervise and manage student teams. Clinical projects deploy a variety of strategies and methodologies and may include fact-finding investigations and advocacy efforts, human rights reporting, legislative drafting, litigation in national and international fora, media advocacy, policy initiatives, coalition building, and negotiating treaty provisions.
As a student practice organization, Advocates offers law students, including 1Ls and LLMs, the opportunity to gain practical legal experience from the start of law school. Advocates operates according to an externship model in which students work on projects from Cambridge, under the supervision of licensed attorneys at various partner organizations. Advocates is run by a student board, with 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLMs assuming leadership and project management responsibilities. While students do not receive academic credit for their work, their hours can count towards the law school’s pro bono graduation requirement. Advocates also organizes on-campus events, programming, and trainings. The Clinical Instructor will be the bridge between Advocates and the Clinic. This individual will liaise and work with Advocates around all aspects of its operations, including supporting student leaders as they build relationships with partner organizations, develop and manage projects, interact with supervising attorneys and student teams, address potential conflicts of interest and other risk management concerns, facilitate the annual transition between incoming and outgoing student leadership to offer continuity, and help maintain institutional memory.
The Clinical Instructor will be a legally-trained practitioner with at least five years of demonstrated experience in, and commitment to, human rights, including experience training, teaching, or mentoring law students. This individual will join a vibrant community of human rights practitioners and scholars at Harvard Law School.
*Duties and Responsibilities continued in Additional Information Section*
April 2, 2019
This week, the International Human Rights Clinic published “Interpreting The Arms Trade Treaty: International Human Rights Law and Gender-Based Violence in Article 7 Risk Assessments” with Clinic partner Control Arms. Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law Anna Crowe LLM ’12 presented the paper in Geneva today at a preliminary meeting of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty.
The paper takes a close look at the human rights risk assessment Article 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty requires States Parties to undertake whenever an arms export is proposed. Article 7 requires States Parties to assess the potential that any proposed exports could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international human rights law, including serious acts of gender-based violence (GBV). Within that assessment, States Parties must also consider the potential that the weapons would contribute to or undermine peace and security. If there is an overriding risk of harm, the export must be denied.
The paper provides interpretive guidance on a number of key terms in the Arms Trade Treaty with a focus on considering gender and risks of GBV in each part of the Article 7 risk assessment, particularly with respect to serious violations of international human rights law.
Clinical students Radhika Kapoor LLM ’19 and Terry Flyte LLM ’19 joined Crowe in Geneva. Jillian Rafferty JD ’20, Natalie Gallon JD ’20, and Elise Baranouski JD ’20 are co-authors of the paper, along with Kapoor.
March 29, 2019
Posted by Thomas Becker JD'08, Julia Wenck JD'20, and Fabiola Alvelais JD'20
For women, Bolivia is a land of paradoxes. The Bolivian government has enacted some of the world’s most progressive legislation to advance women’s rights. It was one of the first countries to criminalize femicide − the killing of women because they are women – and maintains strict protocols to combat gender violence. Yet despite these efforts, violence against women remains a pervasive problem. Bolivia’s femicide rate is the second highest in South America and one of the highest in the world.
In April 2018, Mujeres Creando, a Bolivian feminist collective, asked the International Human Rights Clinic to examine femicide in Bolivia. Throughout this academic year, clinical students Fabiola Alvelais JD ’20, Isabel Pitaro JD ’20, and Julia Wenck JD ’20 have worked on this issue under the supervision of Clinical Instructor Thomas Becker JD ’08, conducting extensive desk research and traveling to Bolivia to interview families of femicide victims, activists, and government officials involved in the investigation and adjudication of femicide cases.
Last Friday, the Clinic released its report, “ ‘No Justice for Me’: Femicide and Impunity in Bolivia.” Becker and Alvelais presented the report at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz. Family members of femicide victims, academics, and the former Human Rights Ombudsman of Bolivia (and current Chancellor of the University) participated in the presentation before an overflow crowd of roughly one thousand people.
“No Justice for Me” identifies three key areas that have hindered the government’s efforts to prevent femicide and hold perpetrators accountable: (1) investigative barriers, (2) judicial barriers, and (3) institutional discrimination. The report calls on actors in the Bolivian government and civil society to address these obstacles, adhere to the country’s own progressive legislation on femicide, and work together to address the pervasiveness of femicide and impunity in the country.
Helen Alvarez, whose daughter Andrea Aramayo was killed by her boyfriend in 2015, was interviewed for the report and remains concerned about the prevalence of femicide. “All women can be victims of femicide in Bolivia,” she noted. “Unfortunately, impunity sends a signal to men that they can get away with killing women.”
Though Alvarez recognizes that preventing femicide and holding perpetrators accountable will continue to be difficult, she is hopeful that the Clinic’s report can be a powerful tool in this struggle and ultimately bring her daughter’s case one step closer to justice.
The clinical team shared its report with the public, conducting dozens of radio, print, and television interviews. “I was genuinely moved by the widespread interest in battling femicide in Bolivia,” Alvelais reflected.
Becker and Alvelais also met with high level members of the Bolivian government, including the President of the Senate, the Vice-President of Congress, the President of the Justice Commission of Congress, and the Director General of the Plurinational Service for Women and Depatriarchalization, to discuss the report.
To Becker, these meetings signaled a sincere effort to confront the problem of femicide. “We had a unique opportunity to sit down with members of the government, who showed a genuine interest in collaborating to eradicate femicide in the country,” he explained. “We are optimistic about the possibilities for meaningful change.”
March 19, 2019
The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School seeks an experienced practitioner for a consultancy to support an exciting new women’s leadership initiative. The purpose of this new initiative is to innovate and experiment with programming and training that: (1) better prepares women graduates of our Clinic to become successful leaders in human rights, thereby increasing the share of leadership positions in human rights that are occupied by women, and (2) better prepares all graduates of our Clinic to engage with tough questions and conversations around gender, equity, and leadership in the workplace.
Although the Clinic has historically worked on numerous women’s rights issues, we have not grappled with how to best develop our own students into leaders who can advance workplace equity and improve workplace culture. This initiative will examine the role of women as leaders in the human rights movement to date—both their successes and challenges—and will also seek to build students’ leadership skills, support the Clinic as an environment that nurtures women’s achievement, and engage human rights organizations and institutions to better enable women to fulfill their potential. Continue Reading…
March 13, 2019
By Susan Farbstein
We’re thrilled to share this happy news: in honor of International Women’s Day 2019, the Clinic’s very own Yee Htun has been selected by the Harvard Women’s Law Association as a “Women Inspiring Change.” To say this honor is well deserved would be an understatement.
Since joining the Clinic in 2016, Yee has guided teams of students as they engage with some of the gravest and most pressing human rights issues facing her native Myanmar: ending violence against women and girls, decriminalizing sodomy laws and enshrining LGBTQI rights, repealing or revising laws that encroach on freedom of expression, documenting hate speech and designing strategies to promote tolerance, spearheading coordination between local and international organizations seeking accountability for atrocities, and improving land rights for the rural poor.
Yee’s personal story is also inspiring. Yee fled Myanmar as a young child in the late 1980s, following the military junta’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. After five years in a Thai refugee camp with her mother and sisters, the family emigrated to Canada as government-sponsored refugees. Yee would go on to earn a J.D. specialized in international law, to be selected by the Nobel Women’s Initiative to lead the first-ever international campaign to stop rape and sexual violence in conflict, and to serve as the inaugural director of the Myanmar Program at Justice Trust.
But Yee’s dazzling resume, strategic judgment, and legal accomplishments pale in comparison to who she is as a person. She earns your respect and admiration without an ounce of ego. Students are in awe of Yee without being intimidated by her. She’s a hug and a shot of adrenaline, all rolled into one.
My co-director, Tyler Giannini, echoes this sentiment: “There are people who just naturally connect with others and inspire them to action—Yee is one of them. She has a tremendous ability to bring people together, which is so critical in a place like Myanmar where the military has tried to divide people for so long. She leads with her energy, which is contagious. And she leads with her commitment to justice, which is unwavering.”
I have watched, again and again, as clinical teams working with Yee are transformed by the experience—discovering not just their passion for human rights but also the confidence to act, speak, and lead in ways that they might never have imagined without her support and mentorship.
So it comes as no surprise that Yee’s students nominated her for this recognition, singling out her “courage, empathy, and tenacity” as particularly inspiring. Describing a recent trip to Myanmar, the students emphasized her incomparable “optimism and relentless advocacy” as she balanced strategizing with local partners, drafting human rights reports, and leading workshops, all while mentoring and training them.
I first met Yee at a staff meeting when I returned from a semester of leave and was immediately drawn in by her confidence, sincerity, and good humor. As she discussed the work that she and her students had undertaken that term, I was overwhelmed by how much she had accomplished, and energized by her warmth and enthusiasm. I still feel that way every time we speak—impressed, inspired, and invigorated.
Yee, thank you for giving so much of yourself to your students and your work. Thank you for being not only a generous colleague, but also a friend and a true role model. Thank you for motivating us all to rise to your level.
March 7, 2019
Title: Community and Ally Outreach Coordinator
Location: Based in Berkeley, CA (with extensive domestic and international travel)
Start Date: Late Spring 2019 (Flexible)
The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity are seeking an experienced coordinator and facilitator to work on an extended consultancy to support an ambitious new community-driven human rights and economic justice initiative. Communities understand what threatens their rights and have much to contribute to processes that would better protect their rights and livelihoods. Communities should be able to claim their place at the table whenever their economic resources and livelihood are at stake, and especially for discussions about the development and implementation of business and human rights frameworks.
The consultancy will help facilitate a global process with three aims: 1) supporting communities through local workshops and assisting them with tools to advance their rights and power, 2) nurturing a network of allies to support communities, and 3) over the long term, assist local communities develop their own global set of business and human rights principles and a framework for economic justice. It is hoped these community-developed principles will complement existing business and human rights frameworks, and ultimately operate as guidelines and/or as an approach to ensure that community voices and perspectives are included in decisions and activities that affect them. Continue Reading…
March 4, 2019
Advice for Prospective Post-Graduate Fellows From IHRC Senior Clinical Fellow Nicolette Waldman JD’13
International Human Rights Clinic Senior Clinical Fellow Nicolette Waldman JD’13 recently shared some advice for prospective post-graduate fellows, including tips for preparing your application and lessons learned for how to make the most of your year abroad. As a Satter Fellow in Human Rights in 2013-2014, Nicolette worked as a field researcher with Center for Civilians in Conflict in Somalia, the Philippines, and Syria, focusing on civilian experiences in armed conflict. In the video below, Nicolette also traces her career trajectory back to this fellowship, as it gave her the field experience and independence required for her later work with Amnesty International and others.
For more on how to apply to post, visit our fellowships page. For the 2019-2020 cycle, applications for the Henigson and Satter Fellowships will only be accepted online (through one portal). Applications are due March 15, 2019 and prospective applicants should meet with an advisor before applying.
February 6, 2019
With the semester already off to a great start, we’d like to extend the warmest welcome to our new spring staff! We have two new members of the International Human Rights Clinic. Read below to learn more about them and make sure to stop by and introduce yourself.
Nicolette Waldman, Senior Clinical Fellow
Nicolette Waldman is a Senior Clinical Fellow for the Spring 2019 term. Previously, she was a researcher on Iraq and Syria for Amnesty International; a researcher for the Center for Civilians in Conflict, covering Gaza, Somalia, Libya and Bosnia; a legal fellow at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul; a program manager for Save the Children in the West Bank and Gaza; a Fulbright scholar in Jordan; and a senior associate in the legal and policy division at Human Rights Watch in New York. Waldman has a B.A. in International Affairs and English Literature from Lewis & Clark College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and is a member of the State Bar of New York.
Jim Wormington, Clinical Instructor
Jim Wormington is a Clinical Instructor for the Spring 2019 term. He is also a researcher at Human Rights Watch in the Africa Division, where he covers West Africa. He was previously an attorney at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, where he conducted research to inform rule of law and human rights development programs, and implemented programs in West and Central Africa. Wormington has also worked at the International Crisis Group and the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is an English-trained barrister, an associate member of QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers, and was educated at Cambridge University (MA) and New York University School of Law (LLM). He is fluent in French.
January 30, 2019
On Jan. 11-12, dozens of experts convened at Harvard Law School to provide commentary on draft articles for a future convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. In a post for the Harvard International Law Journal blog, Gerald Neuman, HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, explained the importance of establishing more clarity on the definition of “crimes against humanity” following the Rome Statute.
“A key issue in establishing state obligations to prosecute international crimes involves the choice of a definition that is appropriate to the obligations that are being imposed,” Neuman says. “The notion of ‘crimes against humanity’ has a long history, but its definition has evolved over the years. The definition negotiated for the Rome Statute, which created the ICC—an international tribunal with a limited capacity to prosecute and adjudicate—may not provide the right definition for an obligatory system of consistent national prosecution.”
Establishing a convention on crimes against humanity would give clarity to states’ obligations to enforce the prohibition against crimes against humanity, among other benefits. Read the full post on the International Law Journal website.
The Crimes Against Humanity workshop was organized by the Human Rights Program and led by Professor Neuman and Sean Murphy, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law at The George Washington University School of Law and Special Rapporteur for Crimes Against Humanity at the International Law Commission.
Professor Murphy will visit the Human Rights Program on April 4th for a public talk about the draft articles. Stay tuned to our events page for more.
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