Blog: Mindy Roseman

November 27, 2013

Call for Applications: The HRP Visiting Fellows Program

Posted by Mindy Roseman

The Human Rights Program invites applications from advocates and/or practitioners to be in residence for a period of one or two semesters, to take a step back and conduct a serious scholarly inquiry into the field of human rights. Our fellows come from all around the world: Africa, Europe, Latin America, and occasionally the US and beyond. They are usually scholars with a substantial background in human rights, or experienced activists.

For the academic year 2014-15, we are particularly – though not exclusively – interested in applications from scholars and practitioners interested in producing scholarship related to the UN treaty bodies: the ten committees and the treaties they monitor.

A residential appointment at the Human Rights Program offers considerable benefits to scholars and practitioners. We provide shared office space and access to a computer and wireless network. Visiting Fellows have full access to the extensive research and library resources of Harvard University. Fellows may audit classes and interact and engage with faculty as well as with other visiting scholars in fellows programs across the university.

Visiting Fellows are expected to participate in a number of activities, the most important of which is the bi-monthly visiting fellows colloquium. Attendance is required of Visiting Fellows. Chaired by the Human Rights Program’s Co- Director, Professor Gerald Neuman, the colloquia offer Visiting Fellows the opportunity to share their work among colleagues, Harvard Law faculty, law (LLM) students, and the occasional visitors.

The deadline for applications is February 13, 2014.


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November 5, 2013

This Thursday, Nov. 7: Reproductive Rights Around the Globe

Event Notice


“Reproductive Rights around the Globe: A Panel Discussion”

12:00-1:00 p.m.
WCC 1023

Please join us for a discussion of selected topics in the field of international reproductive rights. Expert panelists will address a range of issues, including:

-In gamete donor identifiability v. anonymity (I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Faculty co-Director, Petrie-Flom Center)

-The politics of evidence and expertise in domestic and international abortion litigation (Aziza Ahmed, Associate Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, and Visiting Scholar, Petrie-Flom Center, Spring 2014)

-The use of international fora, including courts and treaty bodies, to advance reproductive rights (Mindy Jane Roseman, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School, and Academic Director, Human Rights Program)

The panel will be moderated by Elizabeth Bartholet, Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School.

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October 26, 2012

Announced at HRP Event: UN to Investigate Civilian Deaths from Drone Strikes

Posted by Cara Solomon

At a packed event co-sponsored by HRP and the Harvard National Security and Law Association, Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, announced a UN investigation yesterday into civilian deaths from drone attacks, as well as other forms of targeted killings conducted during counter-terrorism operations.

In his remarks, Emmerson took aim at the Obama administration for neither confirming nor denying the existence of the U.S. drone program- while publicly trying to justify the legality of drone strikes.

“In reality the administration is holding its finger in the dam of public accountability,” he said, according to the prepared remarks. “There are now a large number of law suits, in different parts of the world, including in the UK, Pakistan and in the US itself, through which pressure for investigation and accountability is building.”

He pointed to figures from the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism that suggest at least 474 civilians have been killed in Pakistan alone, and that 176 children are reported among the deaths. (For more on civilian deaths from drones, here is a joint report recently released from Stanford University and New York University, “Living Under Drones.”)

Emmerson also delved into the U.S. presidential elections, particularly around the issue of waterboarding, which Obama believes is torture. Mitt Romney has said he does not believe it is torture.

“Let us be clear on this,” Emmerson said. “Secret detention is unlawful as a matter of international law.  Water-boarding is always torture.  Torture is an international crime of universal jurisdiction. The torturer, like the pirate before him, is regarded in international law as the enemy of all mankind.  There is, therefore, a duty on States to investigate and to prosecute acts of torture.”

Mindy Roseman, Academic Director for HRP, said she was struck by the substance of his speech. The event has already made international news.

“Emmerson’s announcement is bold and courageous, and at the very least should renew interest in holding the US government accountable for military actions, such as drone strikes, ostensibly undertaken to stop terrorism,” she said.

Here is a selection of media coverage of Emmerson’s speech:

The Guardian
The Washington Post
The Harvard Crimson
Common Dreams

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September 28, 2012

Performance Art (and Other Pictures from HRP Orientation)

Posted by Cara Solomon

Here’s a Friday afternoon treat for you: an iconic image from the law school experience.

a textbook, a bare candy wrapper, and some pens sit at a desk. in front of the desk there is a tent card that reads, "please do not remove my stuff. I am in the next class. thank you"

When Fernando spotted this display at our recent HRP Orientation, he rightly described it as a piece of performance art—except, of course, that it wasn’t.

Below are some other images from the event. Apologies in advance for the poor picture quality, and a belated thanks to all who came, learned, and ate. We were so happy to have you there.

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August 22, 2012

Giannini and Neuman appointed co-directors of the Human Rights Program

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.”

HRP cultivates coursework and student participation in human rights activities through its summer fellowships, clinical work, Visiting Fellows program, speaker series, applied research, scholarship, including books, and collaborations with student and professional human rights organizations in the United States and abroad. Under the leadership of Neuman and HRP’s Academic Director, Mindy Roseman, the program’s affiliates also plan and direct international conferences and roundtables on human rights issues, and publish regular reports and scholarship resulting from these events.

Led by Giannini and Assistant Clinical Professor Susan Farbstein, the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC), an independent arm of HRP, mentors and trains students through practical education across the spectrum of human rights issues. Clinical students draft reports and briefs, conduct legal analyses, undertake fact-finding trips, litigate, work with concerned citizens, and advocate for policy change. Areas of faculty specialty include: Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigation, criminal justice in Latin America, weapons, sexual and reproductive health, civilian protection during times of armed conflict, corporate accountability, protest and assembly rights, and environment and human rights. Clinicians also specialize in geographic areas such as Brazil, Burma, South Africa, and the United States.

“One of the great parts of HRP is being able to work with a community of practitioners and scholars each day on pressing human rights questions,” Giannini said. “In addition to [senior leadership], HRP has another dozen clinical instructors, visiting scholars and fellows each year along with scores of active students involved in human rights research and practice. This creates a vibrant human rights community at the Law School.”

About Tyler Giannini

Headshot of a man wearing glasses, a black blazer, and a yellow shirt.
Clinical Professor of Law Tyler Giannini

Giannini’s upcoming clinical work, teaching and research activities will focus on the areas of business and human rights, human rights and community lawyering, human rights and the changes occurring in Burma, and human rights clinical pedagogy.

A specialist on Burma, Southeast Asia, and South Africa, Giannini joined HLS as a clinical advocacy fellow at HRP in 2004. He was appointed as a lecturer on law in 2006, became director of IHRC in 2007 and was appointed as a clinical professor of law in 2010.

Giannini’s theories of tort liability have played a significant role in holding corporations responsible for the human rights ramifications of their enterprise activities. For the past 17 years, he has been a leading ATS litigator.

Recently, for example, in 2012, Giannini and Farbstein filed two amicus curiae briefs before the Supreme Court on behalf of legal historians in the case Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. The case, one of the most significant human rights cases to be heard by the Supreme Court in recent years, has attracted international attention, the Harvard Gazette recently reported. Brought by 12 Nigerians, the case alleges that the oil company was complicit in torture, extrajudicial executions, and other crimes against humanity during the 1990s.

As one of the architects of the Doe v. Unocal litigation, Giannini helped develop the concept of corporate ATS litigation, one of the most important vehicles for modern international human rights law reform. This precedent-setting ATS litigation concerning the Yadana gas pipeline in Burma resulted in a confidential settlement that is reported to be one of the largest ever in an ATS case.

He also teaches and practices law at the intersection of human rights and the environment. Prior to joining HLS, he co-founded and co-directed EarthRights International (ERI) for a decade in Thailand. ERI is a non-profit NGO at the forefront of innovative efforts to link human rights and environmental protection. Giannini has continued this effort at IHRC, undertaking work related to dams, mining, and climate change.

Giannini’s work has also focused on Burma and South Africa. He has written several reports with clinical students on human rights abuses in Burma, including one in 2009 that was influential in bringing attention to potential war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country. He has traveled to South Africa more than a dozen times with clinical students, and co-authored the book, “Prosecuting Apartheid-Era Crimes? A South African Dialogue on Justice” (Harvard University Press, 2009) with Farbstein.

He has led clinical students on numerous fact-finding, case-development, and advocacy missions to Bolivia, Canada, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand/Burma, South Africa, and South Korea.

Giannini is a cum laude graduate of the College of William and Mary, where he majored in history and government with an emphasis on international relations. He holds a Master of Arts in foreign affairs and a law degree from University of Virginia, where he served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review.

About Gerald Neuman

Headshot of a man with gray hair wearing a blue button down and tie.
Professor Gerald L. Neuman ’80

Neuman is an expert on international human rights law, comparative constitutional law, and immigration and nationality law. In the next few years, his teaching will concentrate specifically on the areas of international human rights, and immigration and nationality law.

In 2011, he was elected to the Human Rights Committee, a body of 18 independent experts who assess and critique countries’ records on civil and political rights. The premier treaty body in the UN human rights system, the committee monitors compliance by 167 states parties with their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is part of the “International Bill of Rights.” The committee is composed of 18 independent members from 18 different countries with recognized expertise in the field of human rights. The members are elected to four-year terms by state parties.

Three times a year, in three-week sessions in either Geneva or New York, the committee takes on matters of human rights by examining the records of several different countries; by elaborating on the meaning of provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in the context of the current state of human rights and international law; and by reviewing cases where someone’s rights were allegedly violated—a defendant who has been tortured into confessing a crime, for instance, or a family trying to find justice for a “disappeared” person. The committee publishes its findings and reports them annually to the U.N. General Assembly.

Neuman’s nomination to the Human Rights Committee originated in the State Department, and was based on his long history of scholarship and advocacy on human rights issues, including amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court for Guantánamo detainees in 2004 (Rasul v. Bush) and 2008 (Boumediene v. Bush).

Those briefs grew out of two strands of Neuman’s work: An examination of the extraterritorial application of constitutional rights, including the rights of Haitian refugees housed at Guantánamo during the 1990s, and his study of the habeas corpus rights of foreign nationals in the immigration process.

In 2010, Neuman was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is the co-author of the casebook “Human Rights” (Foundation Press 2nd ed. 2009) with Louis Henkin, Sarah Cleveland and Laurence R. Helfer, and the author of the book “Strangers to the Constitution: Immigrants, Borders and Fundamental Law” (1996), an analysis of the role of location and status in defining constitutional rights.

His most recent articles include “The Brakes that Failed: Constitutional Restriction of International Agreements in France” (Cornell International Law Journal, 2012), “The External Reception of Inter-American Human Rights Law” (Quebec Journal of International Law, 2011) and “Anti-Ashwander: Constitutional Litigation as a First Resort in France” (New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, 2010).

Neuman joined the HLS faculty in 2006 from Columbia Law School, where he had taught since 1992. In addition to a J.D. from HLS, he holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an A.B. from Harvard College.

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July 31, 2012

The Day After Victory: More Work Needed to Protect Rights of Namibian Women Living with HIV

Posted by Mindy Roseman

Yesterday the Namibian High Court issued its ruling in LM&MI&NH vs. The Government of the Republic of Namibia, finding that the three plaintiffs had been coercively sterilized. Shortly after Judge Elton Hoff read his decision from the bench, women’s rights advocates praised the outcome, which they said could herald a settlement in many more cases of forcible sterilization.

Certainly the ruling is a welcome result; however, the judge denied the plaintiffs’ contention that they had been sterilized because of their HIV-positive status.  He found no evidence supporting that claim.

And yet, in a report we released at the International AIDS Conference last week, “At the Hospital There Are No Human Rights,” our International Human Rights Clinic, the Namibian Women’s Health Network, and Northeastern University School of Law detail widespread instances of discrimination against women living with HIV in Namibia: segregation in health facilities, neglect during labor and delivery, inadequate counseling about HIV testing, and coerced consent to sterilization procedures.  In meetings and interviews in Namibia, we were told both by public health care providers and former patients that a government protocol authorized the sterilization of women living with HIV.

It was clear from our research that forced and coerced sterilizations arose out of a larger context of discrimination against women living with HIV.  Unless and until this discrimination is recognized by the Namibian executive, the legislature, and the courts, the necessary policy and programmatic steps to address it will fall short.

Our report offers a range of recommendations to the Government of Namibia, donors, and civil society to address the sexual and reproductive rights violations of women living with HIV. Specifically, we:

–      Urge the Government of Namibia to act immediately to stop ongoing forced and coerced sterilization, including holding accountable those who have committed such acts and issuing guidelines to ensure informed consent is obtained before the performance of any sexual and reproductive health care test or treatment.

–      Call on donors to provide financial and technical support to grassroots efforts, especially organizations of women living with HIV, in advocating for and monitoring legal, policy, and programmatic reforms.

–      Encourage civil society to build capacity to document discrimination against women living with HIV in Namibia, with a particular focus on recognizing and investigating violations of sexual and reproductive rights, especially forced and coerced sterilization.

The Namibian court’s decision opens a new and encouraging chapter in the struggle to protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women living with HIV.  Yet there remain many challenges ahead—not only in ensuring that the judgment makes the three plaintiffs whole, but also in addressing the ongoing stigma, discrimination, and other rights violations facing women living with HIV.  There are many pages to turn before this chapter is closed.

May 16, 2012

Supporting Public Interest Litigation in Mongolia

Posted by Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash, LLM ’08, Special Assistant to the President of Mongolia

A few weeks ago, the Office of the President of Mongolia and Open Society Foundation—Mongolia held a conference on public interest litigation.  In many countries, public interest litigation is commonly used to advance legal and social policy, but here in Mongolia, the concept is rather novel to most NGOs and lawyers alike.  There is growing interest in public interest litigation by our NGO sector, with human rights groups filing an increasing number of cases on environmental rights, but there are also significant challenges to gaining momentum.

A conference in Mongolia depicts an ornate room. Tables with satin white tablecloths circle the room and people wear suits around the rectangle. A poster hangs on the wall.
The April 2012 conference on supporting public interest litigation in Mongolia.

We reached out to Harvard Law School—and in particular, to Mindy Roseman, Academic Director of the Human Rights Program—to bring a comparative and engaged perspective on using courts to advance the public interest, and to support those in Mongolia who are working to expand the use and effectiveness of public international law.

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March 12, 2012

Where in the World is the Human Rights Program?

Posted by Susan Farbstein

This week is spring break at the law school, but folks around HRP won’t be sitting on a beach in Florida.  Seven clinicians and 18 clinical students will be on field missions in five foreign countries and right here at home.

Fernando and Deborah will be in Brazil with their team, as well as Celina Beatriz Mendes de Almeida, LLM ’10, presenting a briefing paper about prosecution of dictatorship-era crimes at a workshop with federal prosecutors.

Later in the week, Deborah will return to Massachusetts and, with another team, conduct interviews related to Occupy Boston for a multi-clinic report examining freedom of expression and assembly in the United States.

Mindy and her team will be in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, investigating access to sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, and the effect on women’s lives.

Meera and a student will be in Israel and the West Bank, presenting research from last semester and meeting with human rights organizations to develop new clinical projects.

She’s still waiting for the visas to come through, but Bonnie plans to have a team in Libya researching the humanitarian effects of abandoned arms, which have proliferated widely in the wake of the recent conflict there and have the potential to harm civilians as well as destabilize the country.

And Tyler and I, along with six students, will be conducting interviews in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border, examining human rights violations committed by the Burmese military against villagers.

Here’s wishing everyone a productive “break”!

September 26, 2011

Panel Tomorrow, Sept. 27: Can Courts Bring More Justice to Health?

September 27, 2011

“Litigating Health Rights”

12:00-1:15 pm

Hauser 101

Please join us tomorrow for the launch of Litigating Health Rights, the latest book from the Human Rights Program.  This event will feature a panel discussion with Alicia Ely Yamin, co-editor of the book and Director of the Program on the Health Rights of Women and Children, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University; Norman Daniels, Professor of Population Ethics and Professor of Ethics and Population Health at the Harvard School of Public Health; Namita Wahi, SJD candidate and co-author of a chapter in the book; and Mindy Roseman, Academic Director of the Human Rights Program.

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August 16, 2011

News Story on the Forced Sterilization of Women Living with HIV

Posted by Mindy Roseman

Yesterday we came across this CNN story on the forced sterilization of HIV-positive women in Namibia. It’s a strong piece, and it features one of our partners, Jennifer Gatsi-Mallet, and the critical work of the Namibian Women’s Health Network (NWHN) and the International Council of Women Living with HIV and AIDS.

Our own report on the violations of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV in Namibia—undertaken by students in the International Human Rights Clinic, with NWHN and the support of Aziza Ahmed, now at Northeastern Law School—will be published this fall.


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