September 20, 2019

Fall 2019 Event Series

HRP and Clinic Co-Director and Clinical Professor of Law Tyler Giannini introduces colleagues and HRP to new students and community members at an information session in early September 2019.
HRP and Clinic Co-Director and Clinical Professor of Law Tyler Giannini introduces colleagues and HRP to new students and community members at an information session in early September 2019.

We have an exciting array of events planned this semester! On Thursday, September 12, HRP staff kicked off the season with an information session on everything the program has to offer, from fellowships to the International Human Rights Clinic.

Picture of Cori Wegener spoke on April 16 about her work gathering evidence of destruction of the Mosul Museum in Iraq.
Cori Wegener spoke on April 16 about her work gathering evidence of destruction of the Mosul Museum in Iraq.

In the first substantive talk this Fall, the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative hosted Corine Wegener, Director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, for a discussion of cultural rescue for evidence-gathering after armed conflict. She explored the sad but fascinating world of how art historians record cultural destruction for use in war crimes trials. Interested in other topics ACCPI might be covering? Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow will be here in October 8 to talk about about her work advocating against nuclear weapons.

Want to know more about the interaction between climate change and refugee law? Join us on October 1 for a talk by Jane McAdam, Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, who is also currently visiting faculty at Harvard Law School. Missed UN Independent Expert Victor Madrigal Borloz when he visited HLS last year? He’s back as an HRP Senior Visiting Researcher and will give a public talk on October 17.

Read on to see what else we have planned this semester and stay in the loop through our various social media outlets! Subscribe to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news. And always check our eventspage for up-to-the-moment updates!


Poster for Human Rights Backlash: The Judicial Story with Former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights Andras Sajo, who will speak September 26, 2019 at 12:00 pm in Wasserstein Hall 1019. Lunch will be served.
Design credit: Gigi Kisela JD ’21

Thursday, September 26
Human Rights Backlash: The Judicial Story
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 1019

Please join us for a talk with András Sajó, former judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR has a jurisdiction of 800,000,000 people. It was the first international court where individual human rights complaints were judicially considered, rendering enforceable judgments against sovereign states. The ECHR has changed the law in Europe for the better in many ways. Recently, however, it has been responding to the populist mood that reclaims state sovereignty, and judicial doctrines of the ECHR seem to have moved to deferentialism in the name of “subsidiarity.” The talk will discuss this development within the broader context of human rights fatigue.

András Sajó served at the European Court of Human Rights from 2008 to 2017. He is currently University Professor at Central European University, Budapest where he was the founding dean of the law program in the early nineties. He was educated and lived in Hungary during communism where he was founder of the League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, which was instrumental in the abolition of the death penalty after the collapse of communism. He participated as expert in constitution-drafting in four countries in the transition to democracy period of the early nineties and served as legal counsel for the first freely elected President of Hungary. He has taught extensively in the US (University of Chicago, Cardozo Law School, NYU, Brigham Young). His publications concern constitutional theory and comparative law as well as socio-legal issues. His current research concentrates on the demise of constitutionalism.

Lunch will be served. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Law & Policy, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, the Harvard European Law Association, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal.


October 1 – October 8
Photo Exhibition: From the Atomic Bomb to the Nobel Peace Prize
Where: WCC South Lobby

This photo exhibition will look at the impact of nuclear weapons and recent progress toward their elimination from a humanitarian point of view.  It will focus on the devastation caused by early use and testing of these weapons and civil society’s role in producing the 2017 treaty that bans them.

The exhibition accompanies “A Survivor’s Story,” an October 8 event featuring Setsuko Thurlow, who lived through the Hiroshima bombing and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Organized by the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative, Hibakusha Stories/Youth Arts New York, and HLS Advocates for Human Rights.


Tuesday, October 1
A well-founded fear of being persecuted… but when? A talk by Jane McAdam
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 3016

In refugee law, the meaning of ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’ has been extensively examined by courts and scholars alike. Yet, there has been very little consideration of how far into the future a risk of persecution may extend for protection to be warranted. This lack of guidance on the question of timing has allowed an inappropriate notion of ‘imminence’ to infiltrate refugee decision-making across a range of jurisdictions – at times resulting in people being denied protection. It is especially pertinent to human rights-based claims involving harms that may manifest more gradually over time, such as those relating to the slow-onset impacts of climate change. This paper examines how certain courts have grappled with ‘time’ in a relatively nuanced way, highlighting principles that may be instructive for other contexts.

Jane McAdam is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at University of New South Wales. She is visiting faculty at Harvard Law School for Fall 2019.

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


Monday, October 7
Book Talk: Human Rights & Participatory Politics in Southeast Asia
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 3016

In Human Rights and Participatory Politics in Southeast Asia, Catherine Renshaw recounts an extraordinary period of human rights institution-building in Southeast Asia. She begins her account in 2007, when the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the ASEAN charter, committing members for the first time to principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. In 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights was established with a mandate to uphold internationally recognized human rights standards. In 2013, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration was adopted as a framework for human rights cooperation in the region and a mechanism for ASEAN community building. Renshaw explains why these developments emerged when they did and assesses the impact of these institutions in the first decade of their existence. Read more about the book here.

Dr. Catherine Renshaw is Deputy Head of the Thomas More Law School, based at the North Sydney campus. Her research focuses on international law, international human rights law, particularly in Southeast Asia, and regional systems for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Lunch will be served. Co-sponsored by the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal.


Tuesday, October 8
A Survivor’s Story: From the Atomic Bomb to the Nobel Peace Prize
When: 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Where: WCC B015

Setsuko Thurlow, a native of Hiroshima, will describe her journey from atomic bomb survivor to nuclear disarmament advocate. In 2017, she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which had spearheaded efforts to achieve a treaty banning nuclear weapons. This event accompanies the photo exhibition “From the Atomic Bomb to the Nobel Peace Prize”, which illustrates the impact of nuclear weapons and recent progress toward their elimination from a humanitarian point of view through images.

Bonnie Docherty will provide introductory remarks on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the International Human Rights Clinic’s role in negotiating obligations to assist victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and to remediate contaminated environments. Docherty directs the Clinic’s Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative.

Organized by the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative. Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and HLS Advocates for Human Rights.

Food will be served.


Thursday, October 17
Victor Madrigal Borloz
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 1019

Victor Madrigal Borloz is a Senior Visiting Researcher with the Human Rights Program.

In late 2017 the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Madrigal Borloz as UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three years period starting on 1 January 2018. In this capacity, he assesses the implementation of international human rights law, raises awareness, engages in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, and provides advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building to help address violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity.

Until June 2019 he served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centres with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment until 30 June 2019.

A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica).


Monday, November 4
Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts: An Informal Discussion with ILC Special Rapporteur Dr. Marja Lehto
When: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 2009

In 2013, the International Law Commission decided to include the topic “Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts” in its program of work. Earlier this year, the Drafting Committee provisionally adopted 28 draft principles on first reading. In this informal discussion, Special Rapporteur Dr. Marja Lehto will discuss the impetus for this initiative, outline its current status, highlight some of the key stakes, and raise issues for reflection and consideration.

Light refreshments will be provided. The event will be moderated by Dustin A. Lewis, Senior Researcher, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict.

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict and the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.


Tuesday, November 5
Film Screening: The Long Haul
When: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: WCC 1023

Inspired in the life of the late Nigel Rodley—one of the principal architects of the modern human rights framework— the documentary The Long Haul addresses the current backlash on human rights and how best to respond. The film exploresSir Nigel’s remarkable life story as an inspiration to stand up against wrongdoing and to continue fighting for equality and justice. At the same time, his family history is a reminder of the WWII tragedies that gave birth to the modern human rights regime and what could happen if we fail to honor these basic rights. The struggle for human rights has always been an uphill battle. The current attacks on human rights however ask for joint and urgent action. In The Long Haul, more than 30 renowned experts reflect on history and elaborate over the present-day challenges and the viable strategies (while moving forward and adapting to new realities).The documentary seeks to foster debate on the current backlash and to create a space to think, reflect, and strategize on our future.


Thursday, November 7
Researching Bolivia’s Gas War: The Social Scientist as a Witness to State Violence
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 3016

Confrontations between large-scale protest movements and the governments they challenge are critical events in contemporary politics. Such events—like Bolivia’s 2003 Gas War protests—can be both pinnacle moments in the life of social movements and the crime scenes for severe human rights violations. Over six weeks in September and October 2003, Bolivia experienced both an unprecedented scale of political participation and the deadliest period out of four decades of democratic rule. One in seven Bolivians joined protests demanding the end of neoliberal economic policies, the nationalization of gas resources, a new constitution, and political inclusion of the country’s indigenous majority. However, President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada moved to criminalize longstanding forms of protest, and orchestrated a military response that killed at least 59 civilians. Only when this crackdown failed did Sánchez de Lozada resign his office and seek exile in the United States.

As a cultural anthropologist and oral history researcher, Carwil Bjork-James documented the grassroots protests from the inside out. He later served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in Mamani et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez, the first civil case in United States Federal Court to bring a former head of state to trial for human rights violations. This talk considers what social scientists can contribute to accountability for human rights violations. First, the talk describes how a country’s political culture—including both the right to protest and the socially accepted constraints on violence—matters in movement–state confrontations. Second, it introduces a database of episodes of lethal conflict in Bolivia as a tool for understanding political responsibility, including during major escalations of violence like that which occurred in 2003.

Carwil Bjork-James is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University. His book on twenty-first century protest in Bolivia, entitled The Sovereign Street: Making Revolution in Urban Bolivia, will be published by University of Arizona Press in spring 2020. His research—both ethnographic and historical—concerns disruptive protest, grassroots autonomy, state violence, and indigenous collective rights in South America.


Thursday, November 21
Ben Saul
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 3016

Professor Saul has an international reputation in public international law with particular expertise in anti-terrorism law. He is Professor of International Law and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of Sydney. Ben is internationally recognised as a leading expert on global counter-terrorism law, human rights, the law of war, and international crimes. He has published 10 books, 70 scholarly articles, and hundreds of other publications and presentations, and his research has been used in various national and international courts. Ben has taught law at Oxford, the Hague Academy of International Law and in China, India, Nepal and Cambodia, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. Ben practises as a barrister in international and national courts, has advised various United Nations bodies and foreign governments, has delivered foreign aid projects, and often appears in the media. He has a doctorate in law from Oxford and honours in Arts and Law from Sydney.

Saul’s experience in legal practice includes cases in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Inter-American Court of Human Rights and numerous national legal systems (including matters involving in South Africa, Peru, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Israel, Turkey, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Macedonia, Fiji and the United States). Some of his cases have included the Israel security wall, Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, the Balibo Five war crimes inquest, security deportee Sheikh Mansour Leghaei, and 50 refugees indefinitely detained for security reasons.


Monday, November 25
Is Palestine a State? An Act in Four Stages (1919, 1948, 1988, 2012)
When: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: WCC 3015

Is Palestine a state? And if so, when did it become a state? The question has long perplexed international lawyers, and has been answered unsatisfactorily. Given that Palestine has instituted cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) an answer to this very difficult question is in need of clarity. Victor Kattan, Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore (NUS), will address these questions on Monday, November 25, in a talk that will explore four key stages in the Palestinian people’s long quest to achieve statehood are revisited: (i) 1919 when the Covenant of the League of Nations was adopted. (ii) 1948 when the United Kingdom terminated its mandate over Palestine. (iii)1988 when Jordan recognised the secession of the Palestinian people to establish a state in the territories occupied by Israel in the June 1967 war, and (iv) 2012 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution conferring on Palestine non-member observer state status.

Kattan is also an Associate Fellow at NUS Law and an associate member of Temple Garden Chambers in London. He was a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team during the UN General Assembly’s decision to confer observer statehood on Palestine on 29 November 2012.

Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Program on International Law and Armed Conflict.

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