Thursday, May 26, 2016
The international Human Rights Cities movement will mark at least two landmarks this summer and, depending on how you count, maybe more. First, the 6th annual World Human Rights Cities Forum will be held in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 21 - 24. Five hundred city leaders and activists are expected to attend and to share strategies and plans for promoting human rights implementation at the local level. More information on the Forum is available here.
Second, the first book-length scholarly treatment of Human Rights Cities will be published in June by Cambridge University Press. The book, titled Global Urban Justice: The Rise of Human Rights Cities, is edited by Barbara Oomen, Martha Davis and Michele Grigolo. It includes a number of contributions that address US human rights on the municipal level, including chapters by JoAnn Kamuf Ward on US mayoral leadership, a case study of Eugene, Oregon's human rights initiative by Kenneth Neubeck, and a more general overview and analysis of the movement by Cynthia Soohoo. Of particular note is the interdisciplinary and international nature of the work, which includes perspectives from sociology and anthropology as well as law, and contributors from a mix of countries all addressing the role of local human rights implementation. A book launch is planned at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund Sweden, on June 13, from 10:15 - 11:45 a.m., with a panel including Oomen, Davis, and contributing author Klaus Starl of the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights. More information is available at http://rwi.lu.se/.
Human rights cities are also getting increased attention in the US. Human rights cities were discussed at the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law, with remarks from Tara Melish, Emily Murase and William Bell. On May 26 and 27, several human rights city organizations are hosting a workshop in Washington, D.C. to discuss the US movement. One of the convening organizations, the American Friends Service Committee, prepared a 2015 Report on the State of Human Rights in Washington, DC, identified as a human rights city, available here. Michele Grigolo, one of the editors of Global Urban Justice, will also speak at this workshop. And the US is by no means alone in realizing the importance of local human rights -- a similar workshop was held in York in January 2016 with participants from Europe and the UK, to discuss human rights cities linkages there.