Sunday, January 26, 2020

Beyond Law? Undergraduates and Human Rights Advocacy

Young people are looking for ways to change the world.  Movement leaders include the Stoneman Douglas students affected by gun violence in Florida, the plaintiffs in the Juliana case out of Oregon, Greta Thunberg and her allies . . . and their activism gives all of us hope for the future.  

A new (2018) organization, the University Network for Human Rights (UNHR), aims to give more young people the tools to use human rights as one of their strategies for social change.  Founded by veteran law professor James Cavallaro and human rights lawyer Ruhan Nagra, the project focuses on training undergraduates in human rights approaches.  Initially piloted in Stanford, the project now operates out of Wesleyan University, but engages with undergraduates from around the country and the world through partnerships and its summer intensive training program. 

Importantly, the UNHR's project selection prioritizes human rights matters that involve the United States or in which the U.S. is implicated.   For example, one of its projects focuses on environmental racism in Louisiana, while another looks at the U.S. role in air bombing in Yemen. 

As the program expands to other universities (currently Cavallaro offers a human rights seminar at both Wesleyan and Amherst, with more in the works), expect an injection of new energy and new perspectives into the "bringing human rights home" movement.  As the UNHR's statement of belief sets out, "We believe that the human rights field is excessively legalized, that expertise from a range of disciplines is necessary to enhance the reach and effectiveness of human rights advocacy, and that young people do not need years of formal legal or academic training to be effective human rights advocates." 

January 26, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

US Does Not Make The Top Ten Countries For Raising Children

US News and World Report announced its listing of the best countries to raise children.  The US is not among the top ten.  The report names Denmark won the #1 slot, in part to its commitment to human rights. "The country ranked tops for raising children thanks to high rankings in human rights, green living and overall quality of life."  The United States, on the other hand, ranked 17th. 

"The United States performed poorly on rankings of safety, gender equality, human rights, green living, and family-friendly legislation, CNN reports. The U.S. came in 32nd for safety, which heavily impacted its family-friendliness, Deidre McPhillips, the senior data editor at U.S. News & World Report, told CNN. "

"The U.S. hit a record low for trust in 2020, scoring only 16 on the 100 point scale — a 50% drop from its trust rating just five years ago in 2016, according to CNN.  The report also cited increased racial divides, firearm deaths, income disparities, debt, and political polarization as reasons why the U.S. didn’t rank higher."

January 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

US Court Dismisses Children's Human Rights Lawsuit

Juliana v US is a lawsuit brought by 21 youth claiming violations by the US government of their right to a clean environment.  Specifically, the lawsuit claimed violations of the right to a safe climate.   The 9th circuit court of appeals dismissed the suit but not without recognizing the severity of the climate crisis.  The court acknowledged that young people are the most likely to suffer because of rising temperatures.  The opinion was decided 2-1 with the majority stating that the legislature must act to implement environmental protections.  

Our Children's Trust supported the Plaintiffs in their lawsuit.  In their statement, they noted that the decision was two to one with the dissent noting that "Judge Staton would hold that the youth plaintiffs have the standing to challenge the government’s conduct, have articulated claims under the Constitution, and have presented sufficient evidence to press those claims at trial. "

Counsel for the youth will ask the Court for a review.

The decision fails to acknowledge the human right to a healthy climate and the state's role in creating environmental damage and taking responsibility for the damage.

January 22, 2020 in Environment, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Call for Inputs on Privatization and the Human RIghts to Water and Sanitation

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation will focus his 2020 report on privatization.  The Special Rapporteur is seeking inputs from state and non-state actors via a questionnaire on the issue.  For more information and to access the questionnaire, click here.  The deadline for submitting input is January 31, 2020.   

The Special Rapporteur will present his thematic report on water and sanitation privatization to the UN General Assembly on October 2020.

January 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 20, 2020

US Moving Backwards on Human Rights

Not surprisingly, the Human Rights Watch's 2020 report on human rights in the United States reads as an indictment of our nation's current policy directions and basic commitment to fundamental values.  Here are the first two paragraphs of the report:

"In 2019, the United States continued to move backwards on rights. The Trump administration rolled out inhumane immigration policies and promoted false narratives that perpetuate racism and discrimination; did not do nearly enough to address mass incarceration; undermined the rights of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people; further weakened the ability of Americans to obtain adequate health care; and deregulated industries that put people’s health and safety at risk.

In its foreign policy, the Trump administration made little use of its diminishing leverage to promote human rights abroad; continued to undermine multilateral institutions; and flouted international human rights and humanitarian law as it partnered with abusive governments—though it did sanction some individuals and governments for committing human rights abuses."

The complete U.S. section of HRW's 30th annual World Report -- which includes sections on criminal law, juvenile justice, race, poverty and inequality, and women's rights, among others -- is available here

January 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Amicus Brief filed by Members of Congress invites the Supreme Court to Overrule Roe and Casey, What Is Really Making The Court’s Abortion Precedent “Unworkable”?

EdiBy  Cindy Soohoo

Image1Last week over 200 federal lawmakers filed an amicus brief inviting the Supreme Court to overrule its 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which recognized woman’s fundamental right to access abortion. The brief, signed by roughly 80% of Republicans in Congress and 2 Democratic House Members, takes the position that the “undue burden” standard that the Court applies to determine if abortion restrictions are constitutional is “unworkable” and so “vague and opaque” that the Court should not only reconsider the undue burden standard but the right to abortion itself.

The brief was filed in June Medical Services v. Gee which addresses the constitutionality of a Louisiana law requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles from where the procedure is performed and will be argued before the Court in early March. The brief’s extraordinary request is not surprising given that it was written by Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion public interest law firm that has led the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade since the 1970s. But the brief’s argument is ironic given strong evidence that to the degree that Roe and Casey can be deemed unworkable what has made it so is the staunch refusal of anti-choice activists to accept the decisions and the extreme politicization of abortion so that changes in the Supreme Court’s composition raise expectations that states and lower courts need not follow the law.

The refusal to accept Roe’s core holding, despite repeated reaffirmance by the Supreme Court, is illustrated by the claim made in the Legislators’ Brief that “Roe did not actually hold that abortion was a ‘fundamental’ constitutional right, but only implied it.” Not only have AUL and other anti-abortion groups refused to accept Roe, since the 1970s, they have consistently churned out model bills creating different types of abortion restrictions designed to undermine access to abortion and test the limits of Roe. After Casey allowed states to adopt pre-viability restrictions on abortion to protect women’s health as long as the restrictions do not impose an undue burden on abortion access, AUL encouraged states to pass new health regulations specifically targeting the provision of abortion. Known as TRAP laws, these laws do not prohibit abortions, but they impose regulatory requirements that make it difficult or impossible for the doctors who provide abortions to stay in business, raising the question of whether TRAP laws can create an unconstitutional undue burden.

This is the question that the 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt resolved. In doing so, the Supreme Court clarified that courts applying the undue burden standard should determine whether a challenged law advances the state’s purported interest and then balance the laws’ benefits with the burden it imposes on abortion access. After applying the standard, the Supreme Court held that an admitting privilege law that is virtually identical to the law challenged in June Medical Services was unconstitutional because the law provided no health benefit and imposed numerous obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.

Contrary to claims that the undue burden standard is “unworkable,” in 2016 and early 2017, courts had no problem applying the standard, especially in cases involving admitting privileges. After Whole Woman’s Health, the Supreme Court declined to hear cases challenging decisions striking down admitting privilege laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi.  Alabama’s Attorney General dropped an appeal of an admitting privilege case, stating that “There is no good faith argument that Alabama’s law remains constitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.” Tennessee dropped a challenge to an admitting privileges law, and where states refused to drop cases, courts struck down admitting privilege laws.

But application of the undue burden standard and respect for Roe and Casey shifted when the Supreme Court’s composition changed.  After Justice Kavanaugh joined the Court in late 2018, legislatures rushed to pass even more extreme laws that go to the heart of Roe’s core holding that a woman has a right to choose an abortion prior to fetal viability. These laws included a total abortion ban in Alabama and multiple state bans on abortion just a few weeks into pregnancy. Illustrating just how cavalier states became about complying with Supreme Court precedent, in 2019 Ohio passed a 6 week abortion ban despite the fact that an identical bill had been vetoed the year before by its former Governor John Kasich, an anti-choice Republican, because the law was unconstitutional.

Even though lower courts have struck down the extreme abortion bans laws, states have become more aggressive in continuing legal challenges, perhaps in hopes that the cases will work their way up to the reconstituted Supreme Court. This leads us back to June Medical Services and the argument in the Legislators’ Brief that the Supreme Court should reconsider its precedents because the undue burden standard has become unworkable. As recognized by dissenting Fifth Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham, who was part of the Fifth Circuit panel that heard June Medical Services belowthe application of the undue burden standard after Whole Woman’s Health is “straightforward.” What is making it unworkable is the expectation that the newly constituted Roberts court will be open to the invitation to overturn Roe and Casey. Hopefully, the invitation will be declined.

Editors' Note: This post was originally published on the Reproductive Rights Blog.

January 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Human Rights Art Competition # Tell The World

The US Human Rights Network is promoting a Human Rights Art Competition:

Below is the information:

This is a reminder that the submissions deadline for our creative arts competition -- #TellTheWorld -- is coming up on January 21, 2020. Participate in the art competition to bring your human rights activism to life through visual storytelling!

The theme of the #TellTheWorld competition is: Human rights and community activism. 

Guiding questions: What violations of human rights and human dignity are happening in your community? What is your community doing in response? What do you imagine your community being like when human dignity and human rights are secured? 

Examples of human rights violations: Forcible evictions; deliberate poisoning of a water supply; discrimination in access to medical care, work, housing, education; failing to provide basic health care facilities; school or housing in such poor condition that it poses a risk to safety.

Winning artwork will be featured in the US Human Rights Network annual human rights report card, to be released in early spring 2020, as well as on USHRN social media channels. 

All submitted artwork will be included in a video compilation which we will present at key consultations and meetings with embassies and permanent missions as part of our ongoing advocacy around the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United States.

We’ll be accepting visual arts submissions via this online portal until January 21, 2020.

Your submission can be any kind of original visual art, including but not limited to:

  • Photography
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Mixed media 
  • Zine or comic
  • Collage

To participate in the visual storytelling project, #TellTheWorld, please follow the instructions below:

  1. Identify a human rights violation or ongoing activism in your community that you want to #TellTheWorld about.
  2. Capture this violation (or, community activism/resistance to it), with a unique photo or visual art piece that you create.
  3. Submit your final visual artwork via this link with a caption/description explaining the rights in violation and/or the ongoing resistance work in your community (maximum 500 words).

Guidelines and requirements for participation:

  • Anyone residing within the United States may submit a photo - you do not need to have submitted a UPR stakeholder report in order to participate. 
  • The photo/artwork you submit must be your original work. Do not submit photos/artwork acquired online.

If you have any questions about the competition, please contact USHRN Chief of Strategy and Programming Whitney Yang at wyang@ushrnetwork.org and/or UPR Task Force Co-Chairs Joshua Cooper at joshuacooperhawaii@gmail.com and Mary Gerisch at marygerisch@gmail.com

:

 

This is a reminder that the submissions deadline for our creative arts competition -- #TellTheWorld -- is coming up on January 21, 2020. Participate in the art competition to bring your human rights activism to life through visual storytelling!

The theme of the #TellTheWorld competition is: Human rights and community activism. 

Guiding questions: What violations of human rights and human dignity are happening in your community? What is your community doing in response? What do you imagine your community being like when human dignity and human rights are secured? 

Examples of human rights violations: Forcible evictions; deliberate poisoning of a water supply; discrimination in access to medical care, work, housing, education; failing to provide basic health care facilities; school or housing in such poor condition that it poses a risk to safety.

Winning artwork will be featured in the US Human Rights Network annual human rights report card, to be released in early spring 2020, as well as on USHRN social media channels. 

All submitted artwork will be included in a video compilation which we will present at key consultations and meetings with embassies and permanent missions as part of our ongoing advocacy around the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United States.

We’ll be accepting visual arts submissions via this online portal until January 21, 2020.

Your submission can be any kind of original visual art, including but not limited to:

  • Photography
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Mixed media 
  • Zine or comic
  • Collage

To participate in the visual storytelling project, #TellTheWorld, please follow the instructions below:

  1. Identify a human rights violation or ongoing activism in your community that you want to #TellTheWorld about.
  2. Capture this violation (or, community activism/resistance to it), with a unique photo or visual art piece that you create.
  3. Submit your final visual artwork via this link with a caption/description explaining the rights in violation and/or the ongoing resistance work in your community (maximum 500 words).

Guidelines and requirements for participation:

  • Anyone residing within the United States may submit a photo - you do not need to have submitted a UPR stakeholder report in order to participate. 
  • The photo/artwork you submit must be your original work. Do not submit photos/artwork acquired online.

If you have any questions about the competition, please contact USHRN Chief of Strategy and Programming Whitney Yang at wyang@ushrnetwork.org and/or UPR Task Force Co-Chairs Joshua Cooper at joshuacooperhawaii@gmail.com and Mary Gerisch at marygerisch@gmail.com

January 16, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Beyond War Crimes

Last week, President Trump repeatedly threatened to commit war crimes by targeting Iran's cultural sites for destruction until, after the Department of Defense refused to go along, he backed off, at least for now.  These threatened war crimes would also violate US human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.  The U.S. is one of four countries that have signed but not ratified this Covenant, which has been ratified by 170 countries worldwide.

Article 15 of the ICESCR explicitly addresses culture, providing that parties to the Convention "recognize the right of everyone . . . to take part in cultural life."  Parties to the Covenant further agree that "the steps to be taken  . . . to achieve full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development, and the diffusion of science and culture." 

While the United States is not a party to the Convention, as a signatory it is obligated under international law to refrain from defeating the object and purpose of the treaty.  Clearly, intentional destruction by the U.S. of Iran's cultural sites would defeat the treaty's purpose with regard to cultural conservation and preservation. 

After last week's course reversal, it seems that President Trump is not ready to overtly commit international war crimes.  But surely, we deserve a President who is also serious about not violating international human rights just to distract from his domestic political troubles.

January 15, 2020 in Martha F. Davis | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bad Law Goes Into Effect

 

by Prof. Justine Dunlap


Image1At the beginning of a year, many states see new laws going into effect. One that deserves special mention is SB 212 in Texas. Passed last summer and becoming effective on January 1, 2020, this law mandates that if any non-student employee of a postsecondary educational institution becomes aware of any incident of dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment or stalking, that employee must report the incident to their institutions’ Title IX coordinator. If an employee fails to comply with this requirement, he or she can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. Further, the failure to comply will result in the employee being fired.

The law has received both praise and pushback. The organization “Help Save our Sons” calls it a terrible law. Survivor groups oppose it as well. A Forbes magazine opinion piece calls it “the worst of both worlds.”  The law likely had its origins in a Baylor University Title IX investigation that was beyond inadequate.  Although perhaps well-intentioned, this law heaps further trauma on a victim, as it requires reporting sexual assault (and allegations of a similar nature) even if the victim/accuser does not want that to happen. Making an official report further removes control and violates the autonomy of a person who has already been subjected to a violation of autonomy and loss of control. There are good ways to help survivors and demonstrate that a university is committed to combatting sexual assault. Sadly, this law is not one of those good ways. It is a bad law that should not be copied by other states.

January 14, 2020 in Gender Violence, Justine Dunlap | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Victory for Military Members Living With HIV!

On Friday the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld an injunction prohibiting implementation of a policy preventing the deployment of Air Force members living with HIV.  The case of Roe and Voe v. United States Department of Defense was argued for Plaintiffs by Scott Schoettes of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and others.   The decision prevents the discharge of the Plaintiffs and other similarly situated Air Force members.

Quoting the lower court the addressed the vulnerability of those living with HIV and the need to include similarly situated members in the protections ordered by the court:

 "Because of the longstanding stigma and discrimination facing those living with HIV, it may be difficult to identify potential plaintiffs in a case of this nature. Granting relief to all similarly situated servicemembers is thus the only way to ensure uniform, fair, rational treatment of individuals who       belong to a vulnerable, and often invisible, class."

Importantly, the court addressed the failure of policy to incorporate medical advances.

A ban on deployment may have been justified at a time when HIV treatment was less effective  at managing the virus and reducing transmission risks. But any understanding of HIV that could justify this ban is outmoded and at odds with current science.  Such obsolete understandings cannot justify this ban, even under a deferential standard of review and even according appropriate deference to the military's professional judgments."

Addressing the current state of science is desperately needed in legal opinions involving HIV.  Laws criminalizing HIV are not based upon science but on the fear of contraction common among those unfamiliar with medical advances.  Perhaps state courts will follow and find spitting laws, unprotected sex laws and other statutes based on fear, not science. no longer serving any public interest and instead discriminating against a vulnerable population.

         

           

January 13, 2020 in Gender Oppression, LGBT, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Trauma of Trump's Family Separation

Jonathan Todres has co-authored an important article on the trauma inflicted by the Trump administration's policy of separating parents and children at the southwest border.  The Trauma of Trump's Family Separation and Child Detention Actions: A Children's Rights Perspective.  The authors explore the traumatic, long-term impact on children due to separation from their parents and explore potential responses.   

Here is the abstract:

In April 2018, the Trump Administration publicly announced a new zero-tolerance policy for illegal entries at the U.S. border. This action kicked off a wave of family separations that made headlines and drew criticism from around the globe. Despite resounding condemnation of these actions, the Trump Administration defended its family separation policy as a “tough deterrent.” At least 2,600 families were torn apart in the ensuing months. And as of 2019, reports—from both government and others—have detailed widespread abuses of and substandard conditions for children held in detention centers. The consequences of these separations and the maltreatment of children in detention are pronounced. The trauma that children have endured has potentially lifelong ramifications. This Article provides an in-depth, children’s rights-based analysis of the Trump Administration’s family separation and child detention policies and actions. A children’s rights perspective has several critical insights. First, children’s rights are rooted in a legal mandate. Second, examining the Trump Administration’s actions from a children’s rights perspective reveals the breadth of rights violations occurring. This more nuanced understanding of the events can help in devising appropriate strategies to respond to such violations. Third, a children’s rights perspective helps place the Trump Administration’s actions in their historical context to better understand the gravity of these actions. Children’s rights law is as close to universally accepted as any human rights law, and thus any departures from such widely embraced standards are particularly revealing. Finally, the authors discuss the implications of this children’s rights assessment, urging action on several fronts to address this harm and prevent violations of children’s rights in the future.

January 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

BorderX

BorderX is a project that incorporates artists from around the world in documenting crisis around the world.  Artists are working at the southwest border documenting the plight of immigrants. The BorderX website says:

"The BORDERx Anthology Project has attracted artists from around the world. Argentina, Egypt, South Africa, The United Kingdom and of course the U.S.A. We are artists and writers united who are willing to stand in the face of oppression and to denounce it in words and pictures. We use comix as our medium and we have partnered with many other organizations to put the current policies on record. By diving deep into the details, we seek to bring context and depth beyond the headlines. The collected works will be assembled and published in both digital and paper volumes and are available through our crowdfunding initiative we are raising funds for the South Texas Human Rights Center who provide water stations, search and rescue as well as forensic recovery for migrants who take the treacherous journey to cross the border in search of a better life. We have also partnered with Project Amplify and Asylum Seekers Advocacy Program (ASAP) to bring sworn testimonies from migrants to the page."

January 9, 2020 in Immigrants, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Is It Time For Local Governments To Engage With CEDAW'S Substantive Guidance?

Prof. Mary Hansel of UC Irvine School of Law sends this post from the students in the International Justice Clinic.

Is it Time for Local Governments to Engage with CEDAW’s Substantive Guidance — and Is Such Guidance Relevant to the Current Gender Equity Discourse?

Previous posts on the Human Rights at Home Blog have reported successes in passing U.S. local resolutions and ordinances affirming and upholding “the principles underlying” the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). These measures have brought about remarkable strides in gender equity and helped promote human rights awareness at the local level. But what about the detailed substance of the treaty — beyond its foundational principles? In crafting gender equity policies and programs, could local governments benefit from more robust engagement with CEDAW’s substantive guidance? Does such engagement have the potential to enhance gender equity for local residents?

In thinking through these questions, a threshold matter is whether the substance of CEDAW is even relevant to gender equity initiatives in the #MeToo zeitgeist. Indeed, the plain text of the treaty drafted four decades ago, may seem inapposite to today’s gender discourse. The rich substance of CEDAW, however, is found in the interpretive statements and jurisprudence issued by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the UN body of experts on the treaty.

The Committee maintains the treaty’s relevance by continuously applying its standards to novel challenges in light of developing norms. The Committee explained this process in General Recommendation No. 25, as follows:

The Convention is a dynamic instrument. Since the adoption of the Convention in 1979, the Committee, as well as other actors at the national and international levels, have contributed through progressive thinking to the clarification and understanding of the substantive content of the Convention's articles and the specific nature of discrimination against women and the instruments for combating such discrimination.

Accordingly, the Committee keeps pace with evolving notions of gender equity.

For example, the Committee has addressed the following array of timely issues:

  • Intersectionality as fundamental to gender equity. The Committee prioritizes intersectionality as “a basic concept for understanding the scope of the general obligations” and calls upon governments to “legally recognize such intersecting forms of discrimination and their compounded negative impact on the women concerned and prohibit them.” (General Recommendation No. 28.)

 

  • Challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ communities.  The Committee acknowledges the "intersecting forms of discrimination faced by lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women and intersex persons" and lays out the specific issue areas requiring governmental support, including harmful stereotypes, school bullying, hate crimes and employment discrimination. (Concluding observations, DEDAW/C/MUS//CO/8,12 November 2018; General Recommendation No. 36)

   

          Protections for migrant women, including trafficking survivors. The Committee condemns the mistreatment             of female migrant workers, asylum seekers and trafficking survivors, emphasizing governmental roles in protecting                     these marginalized groups from harm and providing support services. (General Recommendation No. 26;  (General                 Recommendation   No. 32.)

 

  • Sexual assault and harassment. The Committee has called for zero-tolerance policies in addressing gender-based violence in the public and private spheres, as well as governmental reporting “on sexual harassment, and on measures to protect women from sexual harassment and other forms of violence of coercion in the workplace.” (General Recommendation No. 19; X and Y v. Georgia, CEDAW/C/61/D/24/2009, 13 July 2015.)

 

  • Access to comprehensive healthcare, including reproductive care. Under CEDAW, governments are urged to implement strategies to promote women’s health, including “interventions aimed at both the prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions affecting women, as well as . . . ensur[ing] universal access for all women to a full range of high-quality and affordable health care, including sexual and reproductive health services.” (General Recommendation No. 24.)

 

  • De facto equality in education and work settings. The Committee has underscored governmental “obligations to ensure the universal right to high-quality education and to create an enabling environment that allows girls and women to become agents of change,” as well as the need for income equality, paid parental leave and other measures to ensure equitable working conditions. (General Recommendation No. 31; General Recommendation No. 13; Concluding observations, CEDAW/C/AUS/CO/8, 20 July 2018.)

 

  • The gender dimensions of climate change. Recognizing that climate change particularly impacts women and girls and tends to exacerbate gender inequalities, the Committee recommends the inclusion of gender equity initiatives in environmental policies and programs. (General Recommendation No. 37.)

 

  • Online safety challenges. The Committee addresses gender issues arising from the ubiquity of the Internet and social media, including cyberbullying, digital privacy violations and the proliferation of harmful stereotypes. (General Recommendation No. 36; General Recommendation No. 35.)

The Committee’s treatment of such topical issues demonstrates the continued relevance of the treaty for current gender equity initiatives. Accordingly, local governments may wish to consider the extensive guidance offered by the Committee. Might the next step in local CEDAW implementation involve greater engagement with the treaty’s detailed substance, in addition to its underlying principles?

Research by Kelsey Goldman, Cheyenne Hunt-Majer and Correy Miller, students of the International Justice Clinic, UC Irvine School of Law, supervised by Profs. David Kaye and Mary Hansel.

January 8, 2020 in CEDAW | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Human Rights Heroes

Need a jolt of inspiration?  Check out the profile of Maria Foscarinis, Eric Tars, and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in the current  issue of Human Rights, the publication of the American Bar Association's Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. With legal savvy, boundless energy, and determined optimism, these Human Rights Heroes work -- often behind the scenes -- to make a difference for their clients while creating a vibrant and effective model for other domestic human rights advocates.

While you're at it, take a look at the entire issue of this current magazine, which focuses on economic justice.  Articles examine  he UDHR, justiciability issues, and more.  It's great to see the ABA integrating human rights into its analyses of economic justice issues -- in no small part due to the work of Foscarinis and Tars.

January 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Human Right many in the US take for granted . . .

An unusual monument to human rights sits in a corner of the Boston Public Garden in downtown Boston. 

The 40-foot-tall Ether Monument,installed in 1868, is the oldest monument in the garden.  It commemorates the first use of ether as an anesthetic, a pivotal moment in medical history.  A few blocks away from the monument, across the Boston Common and downhill toward the Boston harbor, the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia was conducted in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846.   Boston dentist William Thomas Green Morton administered the ether, and doctor John Collins Warren then removed a tumor from an unconscious patient. 

The Ether Monument depicts this breakthrough through the imagery of two connected figures: the Good Samaritan, holding in his arms an injured stranger he met on the road.

This past human rights day, December 2019, the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists invited its members to submit essays considering the question:  Is anesthesia a human right?

The doctors who responded linked anesthesia not only to the human right to health but also to human dignity.

One doctor working in India wrote: "If healthcare is a human right does that mean anesthesia for surgery is also a human right?"  She concluded that "[a]ll of us have the right to life, liberty, and security but we also have the right to safe surgery which is only possible with the provision of safe anesthesia."  Another physician, practicing in Burkina Faso, observed that "[a]naesthesia makes it possible to eliminate pain, respect the patient’s dignity and facilitate adequate care."

In the U.S. today, many of us are accustomed to living with little or no pain, and if we do experience pain, we expect it to be addressed.  Pain-relieving substances of all kinds are readily available, and medical personnel are often eager to help patients by offering prescriptions.  Too much pain relief can be a bad thing if it's not needed, or if it has addictive qualities.  But the Ether Monument reminds us how debilitating pain can be, what a momentous event it was when the pain-relieving properties of ether were successfully tested, and how lucky those of us with adequate health care are to have access to the human right to pain relief.

January 6, 2020 in Health, Martha F. Davis | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Human Right to Water Comes to Cleveland

In late December, the NAACP LDEF filed a federal class action lawsuit under the Fair Housing Act, the 14th Amendment, the Ohio Constitution, and the Ohio Civil Rights Act challenging Cleveland with racial bias in its practices of denying hearings, shutting off water, and converting water debt to tax liens.   LDF reports that this is the first Fair Housing Act lawsuit to challenge a city’s practice of placing liens on residents’ properties due to overdue water bills.  According to the complaint, the water department placed significantly more water liens in majority-Black Census blocks than in majority-white blocks in the county, even when comparing neighborhoods with the same median income.

“For years, black Clevelanders have been plagued by excessively high water bills, service shutoffs, and the risk of losing their homes due to water liens,” said Coty Montag, the lead attorney on the lawsuit for LDF. "Cleveland Water must change its practices to ensure that all residents have access to clean, affordable water, a basic human right.”  

For more resources on the human right to water in the U.S. context, see Defending the Human Right to WaterTapped Out: Threats to the Human Right to Water in the Urban U.S., LDF's own report titled Water/Color, and The Human Right to Water in the U.S.: A Primer for Lawyers and Activists.

 

January 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Another R…Rest, Reflection, and Resolve

Prof. Justine Dunlap leads us into the New Year with this reflective piece.

Image1After joining HRAH blog for some rest and reflection at the year’s close, I start the new year with resolve.  I resolve to pay attention to and make note of acknowledgments of connection and dignity, wherever they be found. There is much in the world that concerns advocates and threatens the vulnerable; it can, therefore, both surprise and delight when human values are affirmed in seemingly unlikely places. Thus, I was surprised and delighted when I noticed that a national commercial gym declares “you belong.”  Any place that honors inclusion over exclusion is on the right track in my book.  (and this is not the YMCA or YWCA, which have long had a community focus.)

Noticing this message of acceptance and inclusion led me to recall another pop culture reference that has stuck with me for awhile. Readers of Michael Connelly’s fiction are familiar with L.A. Detective Harry Bosch, who has appeared in many Connelly novels. The books are gritty, as is Bosch. Bosch’s relentless detecting is fueled by this motto: Everyone counts or no one counts. That reaffirming of each person’s worth and dignity is worth noting wherever and whenever it appears. So although there is much to dismay us, let us not be consumed by that but rather take note of the places where dignity and humanity are elevated. This year I resolve to look for – and be surprised and delighted by – messages appearing in every day life that honor inclusion, acceptance, and the value of all.  Can I get an Amen?

January 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Time to Reflect and Regroup for 2020

 

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Human rights advocates in the US have had a challenging year, with more sure to come in 2020. 

We applaud the many activists, advocates, and those most affected by human rights abuses who have continued to press for progress despite the challenges.  While taking a pause is a luxury that not all can afford, for those who can, year-end is a good time to reflect and regroup.  That is exactly what we will be doing at the Human Rights at Home blog from now until January 2, when we will return to start a new decade with renewed energy, ideas, and human rights at home reporting.  Meanwhile, best wishes to all for rest and rejuvenation at the turn of the year. 

December 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 23, 2019

Congress Passes Ban The Box!

In an amazing bi-partisan collaboration, last week Congress passed Ban The Box legislation.  Under The Fair Chance To Compete For Jobs Act of 2019, the federal government and private employers contracting with the federal government will be unable to ask about a candidate's conviction history on a job application.  These employers will be unable to inquire regarding criminal records until after a conditional offer has been made. Hundreds of thousands of formerly incarcerated people will have a chance of being hired under the new act. 

Downside:  The law will not take effect until two years from when the law takes effect, presumably the day when the President signs the bill into law. 

 

December 23, 2019 in Incarcerated, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Urgenda Decision sets a Precedent for Other Courts

On Friday, December 20, the Netherlands Supreme Court ruled in Urgenda v. the Netherlands that human rights obligations mandate that the Dutch government reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 1990 levels and that it must meet that goal within the next year.

According to Dennis van Berkel, legal counsel for Urgenda, it was the first time any court in the world had rested its decision on the human rights implications of climate change.  In particular, the court cited the government's obligations to protect the environment under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights involving the right to life and the right to a private and family life.  Said van Berkel, “The court was very clear. Human rights protect people against the impacts of climate change and the government and parliament have to respect those human rights when defining their policies. That’s why this is a case for the courts to decide, because the dangers of climate change are so massive that they are human rights issues.” 

In the U.S., an earlier ruling in the Urgenda case was cited with approval by the federal district court in Juliana v. United States, a challenge to US government environmental inaction under a constitutional public trust theory.  The new Urgenda decision provides additional guideposts for U.S. courts considering climate litigation.  Analogous to the European Convention, Articles 6 and 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifically provide for protection of the rights to life, and to a private and family life, respectively; the U.S is a party to the ICCPR. Likewise, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (while a Declaration rather than a treaty) protects the rights to life and to privacy in Articles I and V.  Beyond federal litigation, state courts examining the meaning of their unique state constitutional protections may be particularly interested in learning about the Urgenda court's interpretations of privacy and the fundamental right to life.  

The Urgenda Court's decision lays down a marker that other courts around the world will have to grapple with, and as Justice Breyer has repeatedly urged, U.S. judges should be open to learning about how other jurists, particularly in the world's high courts, have boldly dealt with these shared challenges.

December 22, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)