April 28, 2020
Victor Madrigal-Borloz will host “town hall” meetings on pandemic impact
Please join us for a conversation with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE SOGI) and HRP’s Eleanor Roosevelt Senior Visiting Researcher, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the responses given by State and non-State actors, on the everyday life of LGBT and gender diverse persons.
At three meetings on April 30 and May 1, the IE SOGI will start with an introduction of 15-20 minutes, where he will make a presentation of preliminary findings on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our communities and discuss recent exceptional measures taken by States to combat the pandemic after declaring a state of emergency.
The floor will then be open so that the IE SOGI can receive information from participants. Initially, each participant will have a maximum of 3 minutes to present their contributions. If possible, participants might be asked follow-up questions in a second round.
Questions that will guide that discussion will be:
– How do we identify that a measure established by the State is COVID-specific?
– What are the limits to using emergency powers when fighting the pandemic?
– What is the impact of existing inequalities during a state of emergency? Are there any ways to respond to the exacerbation of inequalities during a crisis?
– Are there seemingly neutral measures that are having discriminatory effects in practice?
– How is data being gathered and systematized?
March 31, 2020
Posted by Jasmine Shin JD'21 & Samantha Lint JD'20
HLS Advocates for Human Rights Hosts Event Highlighting Atrocities Against Uyghurs
On March 9, 2020, HLS Advocates for Human Rights hosted a discussion at Harvard Law School on abuses committed by the Chinese government against Uyghur minorities in the Xinjiang region. HLS Advocates is a student practice organization which conducts human rights projects in partnership with NGOs around the world; raises awareness of human rights issues; and builds students’ capacity through trainings.
Speakers for the event included Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Rayhan Asat LLM’16, an alumna of Harvard Law School who is of Uyghur origin. The discussion was moderated by Professor William Alford, the Director of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. The event was co-sponsored by East Asian Legal Studies at HLS, the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Inner Asian and Altaic Studies at Harvard, and the Harvard Muslim Law Students Association.
The Appalling State of Oppression in Xinjiang
The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic minority group who are predominately Muslim. They are one of the two largest groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in Northwest China. Several Uyghur communities also live in neighboring countries in Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
The Uyghurs have been long regarded as potential threats by the Chinese government due to their cultural and ethnic differences from the Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group in China, and demands for a separate state from some members of the Uyghur community.
Richardson emphasized the unparalleled scale of arbitrary detention of Uyghurs today, enabled by surveillance technology and driven by a misguided notion of sinicization. Over the past several years, HRW has documented the use of political re-education camps against Uyghurs by authorities in Xinjiang, where “torture, ill-treatment, denial of access to medical care, and intentional degradation” occur routinely. Richardson also highlighted the Chinese government’s surveillance of the Uyghur community – both as troubling on its own and as facilitating the detention program. For example, the Xinjiang police use an app “that gathers information about what is mostly perfectly legal behavior – how often [one] pray[s], when [one] talk[s] to [one’s] neighbors, whether [one] go[es] in the front or back door of [one’s] house.”
The Chinese government’s abuses against the Uyghurs, Richardson noted, are driven by “[its] mistrust of ethnic minorities” hidden behind a “security claim.” The Belt and Road Initiative may also be an additional motivating factor, as Xinjiang is an important region for the initiative due to its close proximity with countries to the west of China. Overall, the oppression of Uyghurs highlights the dangers of “sinicization – a fixed idea of what a ‘good’ Chinese citizen is – and a desire to produce a dissent-free society enabled by technology and surveillance.”Continue Reading…
March 2, 2020
On February 25, 2020, the Human Rights Program (HRP) at Harvard Law School hosted an expert panel to discuss the International Court of Justice (ICJ) case on genocide in Myanmar. In November 2019, The Gambia filed a case with the ICJ alleging that Myanmar military had violated the Genocide Convention for failing to prevent and protect the Rohingya from genocide. In January of this year, the ICJ granted provisional measures in the case against Myanmar.
To discuss the case, HRP gathered three experts: Philippe Sands QC, the Samuel LL.M. ’55 S.J.D. ’59 and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for the Spring 2020 term; M. Arsalan Suleman ’07, counsel in Foley Hoag’s International Litigation and Arbitration Practice; and Yee Htun, lecturer on law and clinical instructor in the International Human Rights Clinic.
The panel was moderated by HRP’s co-director and clinical professor Tyler Giannini. Sands and Suleman are part of the legal team representing The Gambia in the ICJ case; Htun has years of experience working on gender justice and law reform in Myanmar.
Suleman opened the discussion outlining the origins of case, including the critical role that the Minister of Justice of The Gambia played in initiating the application to the ICJ. Sands discussed the current status of the case as well as the implications of the ICJ’s ruling on provisional measures, commenting for example about the importance of the unanimous ruling and placing the case in the historical context of international jurisprudence. Htun provided insights about the reaction – both positive and negative – within communities from Myanmar. She discussed how the case has been of great importance to the Rohingya community as well as other ethnic nationalities in the country. Htun also highlighted how the ICJ case has brought unprecedented attention to the military in Myanmar.
Watch the full discussion below:
The event was co-sponsored by the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative, the Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at HKS, and the Asia Center at Harvard University.
To learn more about the significance of this case, read Yee Htun’s piece, “International Court of Justice Orders Myanmar to Prevent Further Acts of Genocide” on the HRP blog.
October 21, 2019
On October 17, 2019, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Eleanor Roosevelt Senior Visiting Researcher with the Human Rights Program and the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, spoke to the Harvard Law School community, previewing his October 24 address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Madrigal-Borloz shared findings from his recent report on socio-cultural and economic inclusion for LGBT individuals. The report provides an overview of LGBT access to education, employment, housing, health, public spaces, and religious and political discourse. The talk was organized by the Human Rights Program at HLS and co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights and the Harvard Human Rights Journal.
Watch the full October 17 address above or on the Harvard Law School YouTube site.
You can read more about Mr. Madrigal Borloz’s HLS residency as a senior visiting researcher on the Harvard Law Today website.
September 20, 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.
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!Continue Reading…
November 6, 2018
Last month, we welcomed writer, activist, and lawyer Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno to HRP for a talk about her new book, There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia. As the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Maria is at the helm of the leading U.S. organization fighting to end the war on drugs domestically and beyond. Her new book is a narrative non-fiction account of the rise of paramilitaries in Colombia in the late 1990s. With close ties to the cocaine business, the paramilitaries carried out a violent expansion campaign committing atrocities against thousands of people. The story is told through the perspective of three characters—a fearless activist, a dogged journalist, and relentless investigators—whose lives intersect in the midst of this drug-fueled cycle of terror.
This talk was co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Program, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, and HLS Advocates for Human Rights.
Listen to the full audio of the talk below or on our SoundCloud:
October 30, 2018
HRP has added several exciting events to our fall programming, including a panel on human rights impact litigation, a screening of the film War Don Don, a talk with Raymond Atuguba, and an information session on HRP Summer Fellowships with last year’s fellows.
More on Summer Fellowships
For 1Ls and 2Ls interested in exploring human rights as a career, a summer fellowship is the perfect place to introduce yourself to the field. Advising has already begun. Reach out to Emily Nagisa Keehn to think through placements and swing by the HRP lounge on Nov. 14th to learn more.
Otherwise, read on to learn more about the slate of events upcoming this fall, especially those recently added.
September 25, 2018
Posted by Dana Walters
Each year, the Human Rights Program organizes dozens of events examining critical issues in human rights. These range from talks with activists addressing pressing developments to gatherings with academics engaging in deep scholarship.
So far this semester, we hosted Professor Flávia Piovesan, a commissioner for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who spoke about the impact of and challenges currently facing the Inter-American human rights system. Dr. Piovesan’s talk is one of the first in a series of HRP-hosted events this fall honoring and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also hosted a panel as part of Celebration65, the 65th anniversary of the first women graduates of Harvard Law School, where Clinic alumni and instructors spoke at length about gender justice in human rights clinical training. Continue Reading…
September 24, 2018
Sept. 24, 2018
A Talk by Professor Flávia Piovesan
12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Join the Human Rights Program (HRP) for a lunch discussion with Professor Flávia Piovesan, commissioner for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on the impact of and challenges currently facing the Inter-American human rights system. Dr. Piovesan is a professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights at the Catholic University of São Paulo. She also teaches at the University of Buenos Aires and at the Academy on Human Rights at the American University Washington College of Law. Previously, she was a member of the UN High Level Task Force on the implementation of the right to development (2009-2012), and was Special Secretary for Human Rights in Brazil and President of the National Commission for the Eradication of Forced Labor (2016-2017). The talk will be moderated by Professor Gerald L. Neuman, HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International and Comparative Law.
Co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights and the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Lunch will be served.
September 10, 2018
12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Join us for pizza and an overview of the Human Rights Program and how you can get involved! We’ll give you information on our International Human Rights Clinic; summer funding for human rights internships; post-graduate fellowships; events and conferences; and the larger human rights community at Harvard Law School. Then it’s your turn: mix and mingle with instructors from the Clinic, Visiting Fellows from the Academic Program, as well as representatives from student groups focused on human rights, such as HLS Advocates for Human Rights.