- Page 1 of 1
May 27, 2021
Posted by Bonnie Docherty
On May 27, 2021, we said goodbye to Harvard Law School Class of 2021. In lieu of an in-person celebration, graduating students of the International Human Rights Clinic joined clinicians and staff on May 26, 2021 via Zoom to celebrate each other and bid adieu. Read a tribute written by Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection, below.
’Twas a year after COVID, and to our surprise,
Commencement online, Harvard Law must reprise.
But you should still celebrate your graduation day,
And we are prepared to send you off on your way.
It’s been an odd time with all learning remote,
But your achievements are no less deserving of note.
You’ve been such good sports throughout the pandemic.
You’ve given your heart, soul, and humor to the Human Rights Clinic.
Each week you came to your Clinic Zoom room
To address violence, injustice, and things that go boom.
You survived “trips” to Geneva no matter the hour,
Greeting 4 a.m. meetings without being dour.
You spotlighted weapons and their human cost
Making sure victims’ voices did not get lost.
Incendiaries, nukes, arms trade, robots, EWIPA
For each HD issue you’ve made a tangible difference.
Impunity in Gambia and within the UN,
Through research and law, you sought to end.
After years of hard work, you saw victory,
For Bolivian plaintiffs in the case Mamani.
On the environment front, you fought the good fight,
Showing climate, water, and lead all affect human rights.
And last but not least you examined privacy
And abuses faced by Syrian refugees.
You’ve inspired your peers and your clinicians
With your work, fortitude, and true dedication.
You all should be proud of what you have done,
The people you’ve helped, the respect you have won.
We’ll miss you but know great things you will do,
Whatever area of the law you decide to pursue.
Congrats and best wishes to HLS ’21.
Keep in touch and come back to see us in person!
May 25, 2021
To the Class of 2021:
Congratulations! You are now law school graduates—always a tremendous accomplishment, but even more so in the midst of this ongoing pandemic. The last fourteen months have tested you in ways none of us could have anticipated. You persisted with compassion and commitment, through unprecedented challenges, to reach this milestone.
After you pause to celebrate the moment, we urge you to continue to look ahead. The pandemic has both laid bare and exacerbated many preexisting divides. Hundreds of millions of lives have been turned upside down, not only through the loss of loved ones but through lost health, lost education, lost opportunities, lost support networks, lost jobs, and lost income. The brunt of the pandemic has been borne by those already living at the margins or in dire circumstances. The elderly, people with disabilities, women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, frontline workers, and those who rely on the informal economy have been especially hard hit. In less than a year, progress on gender equality was rolled back decades. Extreme poverty is on the rise for the first time in a generation. Young people are struggling, not only to access education but also to access the connections and the community needed to thrive. In some countries, the pandemic has provided pretext to crush opposition, subvert electoral processes, and crack down on human rights defenders, journalists, and activists. Worldwide vaccination efforts to date have been woefully unequal, and the virus continues to rampage across the global south.
While all of this was unfolding, we have watched in awe as you excelled in our clinic, supporting each other and persevering with extraordinary determination, intelligence, resilience, and courage. Now, as you venture out to launch your careers, you will face a new and challenging world. Solidarity and collaboration will be necessary not only to overcome the pandemic, but to meet the many human rights challenges of our time—from poverty and inequality, to climate change, to the resurgence of authoritarianism, extremism, and nationalism. Your creativity, leadership, and dedication to social justice are urgently needed.
It is daunting, but you are ready. You know how to build to community, how to lead with kindness and empathy, and how to create space for diverse voices and perspectives. We have seen you do it in our clinic, and we look forward to seeing what you will do throughout your careers. As we send you off to continue this important work, remember that you will always have a home here. We look forward to welcoming you back to the clinic, in person, one day soon.
For today, we extended our heartfelt congratulations to you, Harvard Law School’s Class of 2021!
- Page 1 of 1