The Human Rights Program organizes dozens of events annually, ranging from formal lectures to brown bag lunches to workshops and panels. Speakers include advocates, scholars, government officials, community leaders, and policymakers. We often collaborate with students groups and other schools and programs on campus to sponsor events.

September 26, 2019

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, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal.

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October 01, 2019

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. For more, visit:

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

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