Blog: Martha Minow
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October 5, 2020
In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo created a highly controversial “Commission on Unalienable Rights” to reexamine the basis of U.S. human rights policy. In August, the Commission published its formal report, arguing for a narrower and more selective approach to human rights. The State Department promoted the report at the UN General Assembly two weeks ago.
On September 17, 2020, the Human Rights Program hosted experts to discuss the report and its implications for U.S. human rights policy and the international human rights system. HRP was joined by:
Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University;
Gerald Neuman, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, and Co-Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School;
Mathias Risse, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration and Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University;
Katharine Young, Professor of Law at Boston College Law School;
The event was moderated by Sushma Raman, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
You can now watch a captioned video of the event below or at this link:
Thanks to our co-sponsors by the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School, and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
October 3, 2014
Posted by Cara Solomon
For the past few years, we’ve kept an eye on a promising addition to the local film scene: the DocYard, which screens documentaries primarily at the much-beloved Brattle Theater. This autumn, we’re pleased to report the series includes three human rights-focused films, including a showing of “Watchers of the Sky” that we’re co-sponsoring in early November.
But first up, this Monday, Oct. 6., is “E-Team,” which focuses on four members of the Emergencies Team, the “boots on the ground” division of Human Rights Watch. A panel discussion will follow with filmmaker Ross Kauffman and Carroll Bogert, Deputy Executive Director of External Relations at Human Rights Watch, moderated by Robb Moss, filmmaker and professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. The documentary starts at 7 p.m.
Next, on Oct. 20, the series features “Return to Homs,” which follows “the journey of two close friends whose lives had been upended by the battle raging in Syria….When the army cracks down and their beloved city of Homs becomes a bombed-out ghost town, these two peaceful protesters finally take up arms and transform into rebel insurgents.” After the screening, Robb Moss will ask questions of filmmaker Talal Derki via Skype.
Lastly, on Nov. 8, the Human Rights Program is co-sponsoring a showing of the award-winning film, “Watchers of the Sky,” which focuses on the life of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jew who created the word “genocide.” Following the screening, HLS Dean Martha Minow will participate in a discussion, along with the film’s director, Edet Belzberg, and HLS professors Alex Whiting and Sam Moyn.
August 22, 2013
Posted by Cara Solomon
This past spring, more than 70 people gathered to celebrate the launch of the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity), a business and human rights organization founded by Clinic alumna Amelia Evans, LLM ’11. It was a momentous occasion: MSI Integrity is one of the first non-profits to come out of the Clinical and Pro-Bono Program at Harvard Law School (HLS). In her comments, HLS Dean Martha Minow described its mission as both essential and exciting.
Recently, we sat down with Amelia to talk about the origins of MSI Integrity, and where it fits into the landscape of business and human rights.
Congratulations on the launch, Amelia. Before we start talking about the work of the organization, tell me a bit about how you get interested in the field of business and human rights in the first place.
Well, back in New Zealand, I was occupying two different worlds — I had dabbled in investment banking and commercial law, but was also an advocate at a domestic violence shelter. I felt really alienated from both of these spaces. At the firms, I felt that everybody was judging me for being part of a feminist collective, and when I was a participant in the collective, everyone was very skeptical of my commercial interests. It was frustrating that these two worlds just couldn’t be bridged, that they didn’t speak to each other in any way. At some point, I realized that the connection between the two was business and human rights, and I wanted to learn more about that.
Through my research, I saw the work that Tyler Giannini had done, so I applied to Harvard Law School hoping to work with him in the Clinic. Clinical education isn’t something that’s offered in New Zealand, and I was very eager to experience it. As soon as I got into HLS, I emailed Tyler to ask about getting involved in the Clinic in the fall, and he told me there were limited spots for LLMs. So I spent a lot of time crafting my application, and once I got in, I just tried to devote as many hours and credits to it as I could. I’m fairly certain no one could have taken more clinical credits than I did….I just loved it so much.
What kind of work did you do in the Clinic?
I was involved in three different business and human rights projects. One was the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. case, at the appellate level, with the legal historians’ amicus brief. The second was a corporate accountability case looking at remediation for survivors of human rights abuses. And the third was about multi-stakeholder initiatives or MSIs, which are these voluntary organizations that address human rights concerns within a given industry. Basically, they bring together different actors—civil society, government, rights holders, and businesses themselves—in an attempt to strengthen human rights within that industry.
The goal of our clinical project was to understand how effective these MSIs were, and to do that by creating ways to evaluate that effectiveness from a human rights perspective.
Why the focus on MSIs?
They’ve become a go-to mechanism for corporate accountability given the governance gap that exists in today’s globalized economy. It’s really difficult to get a treaty developed, or to get legislation passed that applies with extraterritorial effect, so the response has often been, “Let’s try to do something voluntarily.”
Enter MSIs. They’ve exploded in number over the past decade. Name a major global industry, name a geographic area, name a human rights issue, and there’s an MSI that applies. Most consumers have never heard of them, but the fact is that we interact with the work of MSIs on a regular basis. The label that says it’s fair trade, the certification of diamonds as conflict or blood-free — this is all the work of MSIs.
In the Clinic, we saw MSIs as an innovative way to get at business and human rights issues. But the questions were: are they working? Are they leading to improved human rights outcomes? Or are they actually, in some ways, stopping improvement in human rights? Continue Reading…
April 17, 2013
April 17, 2013
“MSI Integrity: A New Business and Human Rights Organization”
Drinks will be served!
Join the International Human Rights Clinic for the launch of the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity, a non-profit organization the Clinic has helped get off the ground. MSI Integrity aims to strengthen the ability of multi-stakeholder initiatives, like Fairtrade and the Kimberley Process, to respect human rights, prevent violations, and remedy abuses.
August 22, 2012
Posted by Harvard Law School Communications
Tyler Giannini, Clinical Professor of Law, and Gerald L. Neuman ’80, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign and Comparative Law, have been appointed co-directors of the Human Rights Program (HRP) at Harvard Law School.
Said HLS Dean Martha Minow: “I’m delighted to announce Gerry Neuman and Tyler Giannini as co-directors of Harvard’s Human Rights Program. Tyler is a pioneer in the development of theories of liability in the field of human rights, and his efforts have guided our path-breaking clinic and he has collaborated with clinical students and superb colleagues in human rights advocacy pursuing all the available tools—investigations, litigation, media, and coalition-building. Gerry’s distinguished scholarship spans human rights, constitutional law, and regulations of immigration and refugees; his immense expertise in international human rights law includes his invaluable contributions and experiences as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Committee. Outstanding as individuals, Tyler and Gerry are an amazing team, and I look forward to the new initiatives emerging through their collaboration and leadership.”
HRP is the central venue for international human rights work at Harvard Law School, offering students a range of opportunities to engage in academic pursuits and to apply theory to practice, both on campus and abroad. By fostering scholarship, engagement with pressing issues, and training in human rights advocacy, HRP’s faculty has worked for decades to educate students who will become leaders of the human rights movement. Now in its 28th year, HRP was founded by Emeritus Professor Henry Steiner ’55.
“I cannot think of two better people than Gerald Neuman and Tyler Giannini to continue to strengthen HRP as one of the premiere human rights programs in the world,” said Lisa Dealy, assistant dean of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. “Having them both at the helm of this joint directorship ensures that the International Human Rights Clinic is closely integrated with the academic Human Rights Program, which is greatly beneficial to both the practice on the ground and the broader study of human rights law.”
“It’s an honor to be part of HRP and its long tradition of excellence,” Giannini said. “HRP represents the very best in the Law School’s efforts to combine scholarship and practice in an academic setting. HRP is a place where scholarship is informed by practice through our International Human Rights Clinic, and just as importantly, the efforts of our Clinic are enriched greatly by HRP’s engagement with intellectual pursuits.”
Said Neuman: “I am excited about continuing the Human Rights Program’s tradition of intellectually rigorous engagement with the field of human rights advocacy and implementation. I also hope to build stronger connections with the wider academic community here at HLS, and in the University more generally.”
May 11, 2012
Susan Farbstein Appointed Assistant Clinical Professor and Co-Director of the International Human Rights Clinic
Posted by Martha Minow, Dean, Harvard Law School, and Tyler Giannini
As a teacher, a mentor, a clinician, and a colleague, Susan Farbstein has already made her mark on the Human Rights Program over the past four years. Today we have the privilege of announcing that she has been appointed as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School and will become a Co-Director of its International Human Rights Clinic. We look forward to many more years of her leadership, both within the Human Rights Program, and in the larger Law School community.
Click here for the full story on the Harvard Law School homepage.
For the many blog posts written by Susan (and about Susan) click here.
November 17, 2011
Posted by Victor Ban, JD '13
Please join us today at noon for a viewing of the ground-breaking film, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today”. As narrative, the film captures a moment in global history that continues to shape international conceptions of justice, war, and genocide. As historical document, the newly restored footage is a testament to the raw power of visual media, a power that certain parties might seek to suppress or manipulate. As creative endeavor, “Nuremberg” is the triumph of a team of filmmakers committed to seeking truth.
The Harvard Law Documentary Studio—a community dedicated to creating and screening original documentaries on social and policy topics —is honored to co-sponsor this event, along with the Human Rights Program, Facing History and Ourselves, and the HLS Office of the Dean.
Victor Ban, JD ’13, is the President of the Harvard Law Documentary Studio (www.facebook.com/harvardlawdocs)
“Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today”
12:00- 2:00 pm
John Chipman Gray
Introductory Remarks by Dean Martha Minow
Special guest Sandra Schulberg, restoration producer & daughter of filmmaker Stuart Schulberg, will discuss the use of motion picture evidence at the trial; the making of “Nuremberg”; and its subsequent suppression by the U.S. government.
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