Thursday, February 28, 2019

CALLS FOR PAPERS AND CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENTS

International Law Grrls posted a call for papers for the 3rd annual Revisiting the Role of International Law in National Security workshop. "Many conversations in the U.S. about situations of armed conflict - within civil society , academia and the US government- center on "national security law", often drawing primarily from domestic law and military perspectives, International law is sometimes set aside in these discussions.  The workshop aims to draw the international legal aspects of armed conflicts to the forefront of national security discussion. The workshop will be held on June 18th at Cardozo Law School.  Please send submissions with your name, current affiliation and paper proposal to Tracey Begley at trbegley@icrc.org by April 1st.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara University School of Law announces it International Law Journal's Symposium on Immigration Under Trump: US and International Policy Shifts.  The symposium will be held on March 8 from 8:50 a.m. to 1 pm.  The website states: After making immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, President Donald Trump has implemented sweeping changes to the US immigration system. These high-profile policy shifts have been coupled with more subtle adjustments across federal agencies that serve and immigration role.  Many of these measures have affected immigrants, their families, employers and the communities in which they reside. The symposium will be held to reflect on the consequential and far-reaching shifts, both domestically and internationally,

You may register here.

 

February 28, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Is US Funding for the IACHR in Jeopardy?

Responding to reports that the Trump Administration is considering cutting US funding for the InterAmerican Commission on Human  Rights, Democratic leaders have released a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for continued support for this critical human rights institution.   This letter follows another from former US IACHR members -- including President Trump's own nominee to the Commission -- that also calls for continued support.  The controversy began when  nine US senators urged withdrawal of funding because of their concerns about the IACHR's position on women's reproductive rights.

Just three years ago, the IACHR came through a serious financial crisis that threatened its basic operations.  The IACHR recovered, but since the new Administration took office, the US government has failed to show up for several IACHR sessions that concerned US policies.   Perhaps not coincidentally, in recent weeks, the IACHR has been active in scrutinizing the treatment of human rights defenders at the US-Mexico border and has called on the US to take steps to address the issue.

February 27, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Cities Rising

The UN Association of Dane County, Wisconsin, has launched an effort to get Madison, Wisconsin to join the roster of CEDAW cities in the U.S. 

According to the campaign organizers:

"Getting individual cities to adopt the principles of CEDAW has been an increasingly popular strategy since 1998 when San Francisco became the first city in the US to adopt the principles of CEDAW. This strategy emerged because the US Senate, despite debating CEDAW five times, has never ratified the treaty, which President Jimmy Carter signed in 1980. Without being ratified, the treaty is not binding on or in the US. So far, 40 cities have adopted resolutions reflecting the principles of CEDAW.  UNA Dane County wants Madison to become the 41st.

The direct action campaign involves circulating petitions in support of the adoption of a resolution by the Madison City Council, drafting the resolution, and filling the galleries of the council chamber while the resolution is being considered."

Meanwhile, on a national scale, the National Human Rights Alliance Steering Committee has announced an event focused on human rights cities: Building and Sustaining Human Rights Cities: Together in the South, in Atlanta GA --- April 26-28, 2019.  According to the organizers, "the multi-day event will promote understanding of human rights cities/communities and to advance ideas and models for local human rights practice."  More information and registration materials will be available soon.

February 26, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Who Will Re-Write The History Books?

Reflecting on Black History Month in the US, the most common sentence I heard from whites was "I didn't know that!"  

This is the month when we learn more of the rich history of men and women of color who have shaped our world and failed to receive recognition for their accomplishments nor compensation for their suffering.  During February we have an abundance of lectures and films setting us straight on the past and present mistreatment of African Americans.  Mainstream movies are bringing light to the history of mistreatment of African Americans in the US.  "If Beale Street Could Talk" and "Black KkKlansman" are two of the movies that inform us of the modern history of the inhumane and degrading treatment people of color.   "Twelve Years A Slave" revealed the abhorrent treatment of blacks by those who trafficked Africans and their descendants during the years when slavery was legal.  "Green Book" addresses prior forms of discrimination - but from a white perspective-  lulling some viewers into believing bias no longer exists.  Only if that same audience would embrace the harsh historical lessons of the other movies as well.  Spike Lee has pointed out that we very much need to accept the reality of current abuses of power.

All to raise the question:  Who will re-write the history textbooks used in public education?  Race has been a divisive issue in this country since the founding.  Yet we ignore it's teaching with poor excuses and falsehoods.  We say the race issue is in our past - why drag it up?- it makes us uncomfortable to discuss race ... and on and on.  If teachers are not voluntarily having in-depth discussions on race - or are prohibited from doing so because of mandatory use of materials that limit its discussion, the question becomes, who is going to re-write the history books? And when are school administrators and parents going to demand that history courses include the underbelly of US history?  Colonialism, human slave trafficking, the refusal to acknowledge not only the mistreatment of African Americans but the many ways in which we made sure their success was limited and that those successes remained hidden.  

While waiting for textbook adoption and re-writing to transform readers understanding of racial disparity, perhaps the entire month of February should be devoted to teaching only black history, and  without the excuses made on behalf of embarrassed or uncomfortable whites. 

And then, let us move onto US genocide of indigenous people and the shaming of women and others. 

 

February 25, 2019 in aboriginal, Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Reviewing "Human Rights in Global Health"

By Jennifer Lea Huer, Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University, guest contributor

Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World, published by Oxford University Press, and edited by Benjamin Mason Meier and Lawrence O. Gostin, examines the ways in which access to health (including public health) has been framed (or, in some cases, not framed) as a human rights issue across the globe. The majority of the book focuses on efforts by the United Nations, but also includes chapters devoted to health-related priorities and activities by the World Bank, World Trade Organization, and other development programs.

When looking at global health governance, the editors and authors assess how organizations (both state- and non-state-based organizations) set priorities, draft and disseminate policies and other guidance documents, set and spend budgets, hire staff, implement programs, and partner with other organizations as ways to advocate for public health goals, particularly in instances where the public health aspect of broader human rights goal(s) is not as explicit. While many of the chapters in the book discuss the concept of “health” and related policies, much of the focus is specifically on public health, which inherently and historically includes social (or structural) determinants of health (political, economic, social, and cultural), a key concept to address when thinking about human rights and many of the underlying issues communities face in the struggle to achieve equity and prosperity.

The focus on public health also serves as a link to human rights and state accountability in a way that a focus solely on (medical) health would not. According to the editors, “[b]y addressing public health harms as human rights violations, international law has offered global standards by which to frame government responsibilities and evaluate health policies, shifting the global health debate from political aspiration to legal accountability under the ‘rights-based approach’ to health” (21). In doing so, the editors and authors also make a strong case for the ethical duty that falls on the shoulders of the global community to be more proactive and purposeful in developing, supporting, implementing, and enforcing health policies within governance structures. Outside of public health emergencies, though certainly most strongly reinforced by such emergencies, public health concerns know no borders and have the ability to impact international policy in a way that requires a collaborative and global approach.

The book is highly technical and rigorously researched, offering an in-depth look at the evolution of various human rights covenants that guide international human rights law and policy. Several chapters include insights into the negotiations between various state parties as covenants, treaties, laws, and guidance documents were developed over time. As one can imagine, there was often disagreement, not only surrounding the underpinning values and definitions of key terms (e.g., freedom, rights, health, standard of living), but also whether state actors would be required to act, and if so, in which instances. It is one thing to ask a state to enforce its own values, but another thing entirely to ask that state to enforce and advocate for another state’s values, which may not align well with its own (collective v. individual rights and responsibilities). Even the United States, when it has signed on to human rights documents, has been hesitant to articulate specific obligations and corresponding enforcement mechanisms for ensuring the “right to health.”

This lack of consensus has resulted in heavy reliance on the UN, and similar organizations, to act as the model and leader in achieving consistency, accountability, and action from its various partners. The book highlights the many achievements of the UN in pursuing a rights-based approach to health, but does not shy away from identifying areas in which the UN has not pushed hard or far enough to see real transformative and sustainable action. With so many competing interests across the globe, the UN and its associated agencies have not always been successful in reaching consensus and continuity within its own leadership in terms of human rights policies and priorities, including the extent to which they focus on health. As an example, tracing the leadership priorities of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (“OHCHR”), the book emphasizes the policy trends (and related budgetary and staffing models) of each High Commissioner to depict the intensity with which each focused on health. That chapter explains that “[t]he leadership of the OHCHR, however, has not consistently championed economic and social rights generally or the right to health in particular” (477). When they did focus on health, policies were often developed insofar as they also related to other programmatic priorities and population-based trends, which has resulted in greater focus on women’s health (i.e., reproductive health), the HIV/AIDS crisis, and sustainable development goals.

The major takeaway from Human Rights in Global Health is the need to understand the history, process, attitudes, and struggles that have either been overcome or continue to act as barriers to full integration of health policies in international law. It nicely sets a context for better understanding the push for a global right to health situated within a human rights framework. In order for states to be accountable for ensuring access to health, they need to agree and commit to seeing health as a human right (politically, judicially, administratively, socially), which in turn requires appropriate funding, devotion of resources, enforcement, and a sustainable strategy for all populations, especially a state’s most vulnerable population(s).

 

February 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Human Rights Conferences of Interest

The National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program will take place in Washington D.C. from March 13-15. The conference website states:

" Leaders from various sectors will engage in 3 days of free exchange of ideas and approaches to achieving environmental justice. These interactive training sessions will feature voices of experience, research, discussions, and thought-provoking dialogue. The program format will feature the needs and challenges of communities, governments, municipalities, tribes, faith-based organizations, and others with an interest in environmental justice. It will highlight programs and collaborations that work, as well as initiatives that have not proven successful. Program speakers will feature representatives from Federal and state agencies, local governments, tribes, community groups, business and industry, public interest groups, academia, and other entities. This interactive forum will give conference participants the opportunity to network with a variety of interests from diverse quarters. All conference participants will realize informative and productive resources that can support their individual program goals and objectives. Conference participants will also see examples of approaches that produce positive results through innovation and collaboration."  You may register here.

Various upcoming conferences for human rights funders may be found here.

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy will take place in Geneva on March 26.  The website informs:

"On the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main annual session, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy assembles each year hundreds of courageous dissidents and human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders to shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention. This conference builds on the success and momentum of the previous gatherings, which have been widely acclaimed in the international human rights community. "           

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Water and Sanitation Rights Round-up

As an initial matter, PHLUSH -- "Public Hygiene Lets us Stay Human" -- should perhaps get an award for most creative acronym! 

Founded in 2016, the Oregon-based group advocates for public toilets, arguing that "toilet availability is a human right."   In late January, the PHLUSH blog ran a useful roundup on the status of water rights in the U.S., available here.

PHLUSH has also developed a public toilet advocacy toolkit and provides information on ecological sanitation options.  Check it out!

 

February 20, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Hot off the Presses: New Scholarship on Human Rights Cities

Professor Michele Grigolo, a leading scholar of urban human rights, has a new book forthcoming later this week (February 21) that will be of great interest to US scholars and activists, titled:  The Human Rights City: New York, San Francisco, Barcelona.  You can pre-order the book here.

The publisher's blurb reads:

"We are used to thinking of human rights as a matter for states to deal with. Much less investigated is the question of what cities do with them, even though urban communities and municipalities have been discussing human rights for quite some time.

In this volume Grigolo borrows the concept of `the human rights city' to invite us to think about a new urban utopia: a place where human rights strive to guide urban life. By turning the question of the meaning and use of human rights in cities into the object of critical investigation, this book tracks the genesis, institutionalisation and implementation of human rights in cities; focusing on New York, San Francisco and Barcelona.

Touching also upon matters such as women's rights, LGBT rights and migrant rights, The Human Rights City emphasises how human rights can serve urban justice but also a neoliberal practice of the city. This book is a useful resource for scholars and students interested in fields such as Sociology of Human Rights, Sociology of Law, Urban Sociology, Political Sociology and Social Policies."

 

February 19, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Seeks Input

The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women  is celebrating 25 years of the mandate by stepping back and reflecting on the state of gender-based violence. 

She posts the following questions for input from States, National Human Rights Institutions, Non-governmental organizations, and members of academia:

  • As we look to the future, please indicate what are the main challenges to addressing violence against women in its various forms; e.g. the institutional and substantive disconnect between the different international instruments; a lack of understanding of the provisions in international law that link gender equality and violence against women; inadequate judicial protocol or recourse and/or legal framework; impunity of perpetrators; stereotypes and the social stigma associated with reporting etc.?
  • As the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women enters its 25th year, please provide a brief analysis of what your perceptions of the mandate are, highlighting any particular instances where you believe the Special Rapporteur has contributed to the empowerment of women in addressing gender based violence.
  • Given the changed landscape of women’s rights and the current global challenges in this regard, please indicate what specific measures should be taken to further strengthen the role of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur to accelerate prevention and elimination of violence against women
  • Please indicate what steps should be taken to ensure that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur can  effectively contribute to ensuring better institutional coordination across the various international and regional violence against women and gender equality mechanisms for the elimination of violence against women
  • Please specify what measures should be taken to support the initiative of the Special Rapporteur to encourage States to establish femicide watch and/ or observatories
  • Please indicate what are the opportunities and challenges for strengthening and using the mandate of the Special Rapporteur under the international and regional frameworks to eradicate violence against women and girls, and to accelerate that elimination.

Please feel free to respond to one or more questions. 

All submissions should be sent to vaw@ohchr.org by 28 February and will be used to inform the forthcoming report of the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council in June 2019.  Submissions in English, French or Spanish.

February 18, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Notes From The Border

Prof. Hillary Farber is spending her sabbatical at the Southwest Border.  She sends us the first of her reflections on work with detained immigrants.

Image1Just a bit of background: I have always thought of being a lawyer as a tool to help people. I went to law school to be a public defender and thought I would do that work for a very long time. Opportunities eventually took me in a different direction and, over the years of my teaching career, I have felt this tool becoming blunt. After this last presidential election, it became clear to me that my sabbatical was a moment in time to dive back into the fight for justice that motivated my whole legal career.

I was compelled to go where the need is great and the resources for legal assistance are scarce which led me to this fabulous organization – The Florence Immigrant Refugee and Representation Project. https://firrp.org. The Florence Project provides free legal and social services to detained adults and unaccompanied children facing removal proceedings in immigration court in Arizona. Here, smart and dedicated people are speaking truth to power, and pursuing every legal avenue to seek justice for their clients. They are on the front lines of the family separation crisis and provide legal orientations for thousands of men, women and kids in detention.

I am not an immigration lawyer, and before coming here I was not schooled in immigration law. What I often tell people is that I know how to argue to get people out of jail. I also feel very comfortable in a courtroom, and going in and out of jails and prisons to work with my clients. So there are some transferable skills but my learning curve is huge. It humbles me and reminds me daily of the path my students are on, learning the law and trying it out for the first time.

These past four weeks have exceeded my expectations. My commitment to bring humanity to this migration struggle has deepened, as has my admiration for all the people here and around the country doing this work every day. I am here bearing witness and diving in to advocate for those whose voices and stories need to be told. Whether it is the family waiting at the border in Mexico to come into the United States or the young man who heroically fled his native country from gang violence and extortion only to be detained by ICE and held in a detention facility without bond – these stories need to be told and people’s voices heard.

So I am not leaving here until my tools are sharpened and I have helped as many people as time will allow. My resolve is strong and the opportunities are abundant.

 

February 17, 2019 in Immigrants, Immigration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Ending AIDS by 2030

In a rare (these days) positive exchange between the UN and the U.S., UNAIDS welcomed the pledge made by President Trump in his annual State of the Union speech to end AIDS by 2030.  However, noted Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, it cannot be done without a strong human rights component.   Said Sidibé, “I commend the President’s commitment to end AIDS in the United States, which will require a response grounded in human rights to reach all people living with and at risk of HIV, including the most marginalized.”  More reactions from advocacy groups that focus on AIDS, HIV, and health issues are here.  A joint statement issued by 22 HIV/AIDS groups echoed the UNAID's observation that the Trump plan cannot be effective without "valuing the dignity and rights of vulnerable populations (LGBT community, people of color, immigrants)."  Unfortunately, the negative reaction of the Administration to the 2018 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty suggests an unwillingness to confront this reality.  We hope that the Administration will prove us wrong . . . .

February 14, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Virginia Dilemma Is Not Singular

When photos of Virginia Governor Northam either in blackface or a KKK outfit, the nation was once again divided.  Many called for his resignation while the governor has refused to do so.  Unfortunately, the governor's dialogue has ended there, except for an admission of earlier in his life using a "small amount"  of blackface because everyone knows how difficult it is to get black shoe polish off the face.  (Actually, most of us don't.)  

Once again, the nation is at an impasse.  Are resigning or not the only options?   Why hasn't Governor Northam talked with members of the African American community regarding their thoughts on his personal rehabilitation and political remediation?  Were there restorative measures that could create change in both the Governor's perspective on race while benefiting the community?  Given the widespread calls for his resignation, probably not - particularly given the Governor's failure to make a sincere apology that includes remedial steps both for himself and the African Americans that have been further harmed.  His most recent reference to slaves as "indentured servants" evidences Northam's deep racism and his rigid commitment to those beliefs.

Think of the opportunities missed.  In a moving opinion piece in the Washington Post, Reverend William Barber II envisions different outcomes.   He suggests that the Governor and others who have committed racist acts could begin by asking  “How are the people who have been harmed by my actions asking to change the policies and practices of our society?”  While the expansion of voting rights, providing health care for all and committing to a living wage are national issues that the Governor could endorse and foster, Reverend Barber suggests specific local measures that would immediately improve African American lives.  "In Virginia, it means stopping the environmental racism of the pipeline and natural gas compressor station Dominion Energy intends to build in Union Hill, a neighborhood founded by emancipated slaves and other free African Americans."  

In an age when apologies are presumed to be accepted no matter how untimely or insincere, the Governor needs to find a path to actual reparations whether he continues as Governor or not.   The Governor's failure to do so says more about his personal failures than anything else.

 

February 13, 2019 in Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The LGBTQ State of the Union

Actor Billy Porter gave his State of the Union address discussing successes and failures of LGBTQ individuals over the past year.

Porter began and ended on a hopeful note.  “While our rights are under threat and the sanctity of our identities is in peril, let me be clear,” Porter said, “The state of our union is strong.” 

Porter catalogued the many indignities experienced by the community over the past twelve months. Addressing statistics compiled by Human Rights Watch and  the Anti-Violence Project, Porter said that the rise in hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community is the highest it has been in years, particularly against transgender women.  While the address was primarily intended for US residents Porter addressed the violent anti-queer attacks happening in Chechnya and the increase in violence in Brazil following the election of President Bolsonaro. 

Porter concluded that “While our rights are under threat and the sanctity of our identities is in peril, let me be clear,the state of our union is strong.”

 

 

February 12, 2019 in LGBT, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Scary Technologies: The Government Expands Its Human Databases

In what is viewed by many as a huge step forward in stripping privacy rights the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center and other groups sent a letter to House Democrats who  proposed the installation of hi-tech surveillance devices on the southwest border.  This proposal was suggested as an alternative to President Trump's border wall.  Technology in the name of border security is prelude to general use of facial recognition systems throughout the country.  

"We know that the border is often a testing ground for surveillance technology that is later deployed throughout the United States. Ubiquitous surveillance poses a serious threat to human rights and constitutional liberties."

In prisons across the country two additional databases are being created.  The first is an expanded DNA database where some incarcerated people are not being released unless they agree to  give blood samples.  In addition, prisons are collecting voice print databases.  Refusal to cooperate is met with threats from losing phone privileges to solitary confinement.

"In New York and other states across the country, authorities are acquiring technology to extract and digitize the voices of incarcerated people into unique biometric signatures, known as voice prints."   Some prisons are collecting voices of outside call recipients as well.

1984 is here. 

February 11, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

NY’s Reproductive Health Act Is Not Radical; It Simply Recognizes That The Lives And Dignity Of Pregnant People Count Too

by Cindy Soohoo

Image1Not surprisingly, President Trump’s attack on New York’s Reproductive Health Act during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address blatantly mischaracterized the RHA. But it also underscores a glaring gap in anti-abortion advocates’ pro-life views -- the right to life and dignity of people who are pregnant.

The RHA continues to recognize a state interest in fetal life and prohibits abortions after 24 weeks in almost all circumstances. However, the law also recognizes that in some situations, denying a pregnant person the ability to end a pregnancy imposes serious and irreparable harm on her, including situations where the pregnancy endangers her life and health. And in those situations, the state cannot force the pregnant woman to continue the pregnancy against her will. This is consistent with current Supreme Court jurisprudence and international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Committee made this explicit in a recent General Comment clarifying that while states can regulate abortions, they should not do so in a manner that violates the right to life of the pregnant person or her fundamental human rights.

The RHA does no more than protect the human rights of pregnant people. The law only allows abortions post-24 weeks in two situations. First, abortions are allowed where the fetus will not survive outside of the womb. The RHA recognizes that a woman should not be forced to continue what was often a wanted pregnancy -- knowing that the fetus will not survive -- against her will. In such cases, the state’s interest in protecting a viable fetus is not at issue, and human rights experts have held that denying a woman access to an abortion in these circumstances is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  

Second, the RHA allows a woman to have an abortion where continuing the pregnancy endangers her life or health. Some women may choose to continue pregnancies in these circumstances. But the RHA acknowledges that the pregnant person must be allowed to make her own choice taking into account the risk that she faces and the impact her death or disability would have on her family and community.

In both situations covered by the RHA, human rights experts have held that state denial of an abortion violates the human rights of the pregnant person. In fact, concern over state prohibition of abortions in those circumstances led UN human rights experts to write to the U.S. to encourage passage of laws like the Reproductive Health Act. This is not a radical position. It is merely the recognition of the value of the life and dignity of pregnant people. The failure of critics of the RHA to understand this is a glaring gap in their “pro-life” views.

Editors Note: This piece is cross-posted with the Reproductive Rights Blog

February 10, 2019 in Cindy Soohoo, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

UN Office Seeks Input on Local Governments and Human Rights -- Deadline Feb. 15

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has issued a call for input on local governments' initiatives to promote and protect human rights.  The deadline for submissions is February 15.   The United Cities and Local Governments organization (UCLG) has developed a template to guide local governments in preparing their submissions.  The OHCHR invites input from civil society as well as other stakeholders.

This call for input follows on the Human  Rights Council's Resolution 39/7, which directed the OHCHR to prepare a report for the Human Rights Council on "effective methods to foster cooperation between local government and local stakeholders" to further human rights implementation, including the SDGs, identifying challenges as well as best practices.  

The OHCHR's report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in July 2019.

February 7, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hunger: The Politics of Food

On March 22, 2019, from 9 a.m. - 12 noon, Kean University will host its annual Human Rights Conference, this year titled:  Hunger: The Politics of Food.  Check out the speakers, including chef Tom Colicchio, and register for the event, here.

As the conference announcement says:

Hunger is no game. 

The devastating truth of the global hunger crisis is evident in the numbers:

  • More than one billion people worldwide don't know when they will have their next meal; 20 million of these people are at immediate risk of dying from malnutrition.
     
  • In the United States, 14 percent of the population relies on food banks, soup kitchens and similar services to feed themselves and their families.
     
  • Here in New Jersey – the Garden State – 300,000 children go to bed hungry every night.

Despite worldwide economic recovery and growth, an increase in sustainable agriculture and declining food prices, food insecurity continues to grow. Factors include climate change, natural disaster, conflict and global food policy.

February 6, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Force-Feeding Déjà vu

When this blog was still a new kid on the block, in 2014, we ran an extended series on hunger strikes and force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoners.  Now, nearly five years later, the issue has come around again, as the AP and other news outlets report (and ICE confirms) that a number of immigration detainees in the US, staging hunger strikes to protest their treatment, are being forcibly fed by ICE.  Human Rights Watch provides a human rights analysis of this assault on human dignity.  And in 2015, the AMA Journal of Ethics published a case study explaining why force-feeding violates medical ethics and is, quite  plainly, wrong.  Physicians for Human Rights applies these general ethical principles to the specific facts of today and concurs, writing in a press release on February 4:

“Force-feeding is unethical, cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and – in some cases – the practice can amount to torture. These detainees are hunger striking to protest their conditions of confinement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. courts must recognize hunger strikes as political protest and respond to their concerns, not shackle and force-feed them. Doctors must not be forced to violate their professional obligation to respect the informed decisions of a competent patient."

February 5, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 4, 2019

US Leaves UNESCO - Again

The US has never had a faithful relationship with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).  When the UNESCO was young, the US wanted a voice in the education in Germany and other Axis countries to ensure that the history of World War II was taught accurately.  Beyond a desire to influence education, the US never viewed UNESCO as an organization of influence.  

During the Reagan administration, the US left UNESCO and then rejoined during the George W. Bust administration when in post-911 efforts to ensure the support of other nations, UNESCO was seen as a way to accomplish US goals.  As more and more countries joined UNESCO the US's vote carried little influence while the US claims to be paying a disproportionately portion of the UNESCO budget.  

US Funding for UNESCO was halted during the Obama administration because of the organization's recognition of the Palestinian state in 2011.  At this point the US has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues.  While the Trump administration announced the withdrawal in 2017, formal withdrawal happened last week.  The Trump administration added claims that UNESCO has an anti-Israeli bias to the reasons for US withdrawal.  

 

February 4, 2019 in Margaret Drew, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

FBI: KKK Are Victims

The Guardian reports that the FBI investigated a California advocacy group as a "domestic terrorism" organization that "may" have conspired against the rights of neo-Nazis.  The investigation of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) began after members were among those who marched against neo-Nazi's in 2016.  At that Sacramento white supremacy rally, one of BAMN's members was stabbed by a neo-Nazi. Neo-Nazis were suspected of stabbing at least 7 people, some with life-threatening injuries.  Yet, the FBI chose to investigate BAMN. 

And what was the evidence of terrorism? The FBI cited BAMN's advocacy against rape and sexual assault and police brutality as evidence of terrorism.   At the same time, the FBI minimized the actions of the KKK, describing the group as having members that "some perceive" as supporting white supremacist goals.  

The report was obtained by Property of the People, a government transparency organization.   According to the Guardian, one former FBI agent with experience with right wing supremacist groups commented:  The report ignored "100 years of Klan terrorism that has killed thousands of Americans and continues using violence right up to the present day."  The former agent said "This description of the KKK should be an embarrassment to FBI leadership."  But of course in 2016, the Bureau was headed by James Comey.  We already know what Comey did to prevent a woman from becoming president.  The rest of this shouldn't surprise us.

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February 3, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)