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 16, 2019
Collecting War Crimes Evidence during Cultural Rescue in Iraq
After ISIS established its “Caliphate” in Mosul in 2014, it intentionally destroyed cultural heritage across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain. When Mosul was liberated in 2017, international cultural organizations offered salvage and stabilization assistance. Faced with scenes of war crimes under the 1954 Hague Convention on cultural property protection, professionals realized they also had to document the destruction properly or risk causing future court cases to fail.
Corine Wegener will describe the development of Mosul Museum Project Zero, which collects evidence of destruction at the museum for use in a possible war crimes trial. Wegener is director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and a board member of the US Committee of the Blue Shield. She is a retired US Army Reserve major and served as a Civil Affairs Arts, Monuments, and Archives Officer in Iraq in 2003-2004.
The event is co-organized by the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative and the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, and co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and HLS Advocates.
Food will be served.
September 26, 2019
Human Rights Backlash: The Judicial Story
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.
October 01, 2019
A well-founded fear of being persecuted… but when? A talk by Jane McAdam
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: https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/11914/McAdam.
Lunch will be served. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal.
October 07, 2019
Book Talk: Human Rights & Participatory Politics in Southeast Asia
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. For more, see: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15927.html
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.
October 08, 2019
A Survivor’s Story: From the Atomic Bomb to the Nobel Peace Prize
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.
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.
October 17, 2019
Victor Madrigal Borloz
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.
Victor Madrigal Borloz, a Costa Rican jurist, will be in residence at Harvard Law School from July 2019 to December 2020. 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).
Mr Madrigal Borloz is a founding member of the Costa Rican Association of International Law (ACODI), a founding Board member of the International Justice Resource Centre (IJRC), and a founding Board member of Synergia-IDH.
November 05, 2019
Film Screening: The Long Haul
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 explores Sir 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.
November 07, 2019
Researching Bolivia’s Gas War: The Social Scientist as a Witness to State Violence
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.
November 21, 2019
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.
Ben’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.