Thursday, November 28, 2019

Call For Papers - Junior Scholars Workshops

Below are junior scholar workshops that provide opportunities for human rights advocates to submit their works.


Call for Papers

Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law School, Stanford Law School, UCLA School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern California Center for Law, History, and Culture invite submissions for the nineteenth meeting of the Law and Humanities Junior Scholars Workshop, to be held at UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, June 7, and Monday, June 8, 2020. 

Open to nontenured professors.  The deadline for submissions is December 2nd.  The contact email is [email protected]

                                                University of Michigan School of Law  

The University of Michigan Law School invites junior scholars to attend the 6th Annual Junior Scholars Conference, which will be held on April 17-18, 2020, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The conference provides junior scholars with a platform to present and discuss their work with peers, and to receive detailed feedback from senior members of the Michigan Law faculty. The Conference aims to promote fruitful collaboration between participants and to encourage their integration into a community of legal scholars. The Junior Scholars Conference is intended for academics in both law and related disciplines. Applications from graduate students, SJD/PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, teaching fellows, and assistant professors (pre-tenure) who have not held an academic position for more than four years, are welcomed.

Applications are due by January 3, 2020.

Further information can be found at the Conference website:


November 28, 2019 in Books and articles, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Honoring Our Native Peoples

Perhaps we can honor this Thanksgiving by correcting the myths surrounding the holiday.  We best honor the truth of the hardships poured upon the native people by the white Europeans and their progeny.  A more accurate telling is that the American Native peoples welcomed the first arrivers and intended no harm.   In return, the Europeans, particularly the second and later generations, disrespected Native culture and attempted to extinguish Native cultures.

Fortunately many in the US are calling for our history textbooks to include accurate information on US treatment of enslaved people.   We must do the same for Native Peoples by acknowledging the harm done to tribal cultures and their individual members.  That harm at times included genocidal policies.   

Among our gratitudes this year can be our commitment to truth-telling.


November 27, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Micro-Multilateralism: Building on the Human Rights Cities Initiative

Harvard's Belfer Center recently published a short paper titled Micro-Multilateralism: Cities Saving UN Ideals.   Noting the role that cities are playing in combatting climate change, the essay also credits the important work being done by human rights cities, particularly in Europe.  But, the authors argue, ask whether, "[l]audable as these efforts are, could more be done on a concrete “operative” action level? Could sub-states become independent actors in the human rights arena next to states?"

The answer they give is yes, and they cite two models of micro-multilateralism.   The first is an example of coordination between a German federal state and its cities.  According to the authors, "with the active support of 22 of its urban communities, the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg created deliberate and concrete sub-national human rights-based action by integrating more than 1,000 Yazidi women persecuted in Northern Iraq."  More information about the program is here

A second example is a similar initiative in Canada, with Toronto, London, Calgary and Winnipeg serving as host communities for Yazidi refugees. 

In the U.S., the dynamics are different, with the federal government often fighting local governments every step of the way as mayors and city leaders, as well as some governors, attempt to follow human rights principles in areas ranging from immigration to climate change. Yet micro-multilateralism persists, as state attorneys general coordinate litigation efforts to stave off federal human rights violations, and cities coordinate formally and informally on the same issues.  How much more good could be accomplished if the federal government simply allowed local governments to take action consistent with US human rights obligations!  In the meantime, micro-multilateralism in the U.S. has the potential to at least provide a counter-weight and an important brake on the current Administration's efforts to defy national human rights obligations.

November 26, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Organizing To Vote

While the next presidential election is just under a year away, registration deadlines that will permit voting in the primaries are coming up quickly.  This is a year when choice matters.  The presidential campaign will be fierce and the primary process is essential in determining who President Trump's opposition will be.

Those with clinics might consider organizing students to assist with voter registration.  Check your state's deadlines.  Many states have February deadlines.  This is an important year to register racial, ethnic and sexual minorities.  Diversity votes are necessary to effect the change many seek.  

Marie Claire has a website that informs of primary voter registration deadlines.


November 25, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Today's Blog is Completely Moot

Registration is open for the 2020 Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition, sponsored by Washington College of Law, American University.  More information is available here.  The hypothetical case will be available on December 10, and the oral rounds of the moot will be held in Washington, D.C., from May 17-22, 2020.

Other human rights-related moot courts to keep an eye on are:

The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition, coming in 2020

The Children's Rights Moot Court, a bi-annual moot court in Leiden, open to law students from all countries.  The next moot will be held in 2021.

November 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Trump's Military Pardons Violate International Humanitarian Law, Says UN Human Rights Office

On Tuesday, Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned President Trump's action in pardoning two accused and one convicted war criminals. 

Lieutenant Clint Lorance was tried and convicted for ordering the shooting of Afghanistan civilians in 2013 and handed down a 20-year prison sentence.  Major Mathew Golsteyn was charged with executing an unarmed Afghan man who was a suspected Taliban bombmaker in 2010. He was scheduled to be tried in February.  And Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was charged with murdering a captive in Iraq. He was acquitted but received a demotion for posing with the corpse for a photograph.  Last week, President Trump issued pardons for all three.  

The UN human rights office noted that the US military had proceeded appropriately by charging the three officers and bringing them to trial.  In fact, following the pardon, the Navy Seals nevertheless took action to oust Gallagher from the Seals.  But again, President Trump intervened to overrule the military. 

As Colville explained, pardons were not appropriate under these circumstances.  “While pardons exist in international law, and can properly address issues of injustice or unfairness,” he said, in these cases the President was “simply voiding the otherwise proper process of law.”

“These pardons send a disturbing signal to military forces all around the world," Colville added.


November 21, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Portage MI - A Safe Haven for Human Rights

The Mayor of Portage, Michigan has reaffirmed that the city's committed to honoring human rights for all.  

"The city's human rights ordinance will be posted at each local government building in an effort to promote diversity in the county's largest city, according to Mayor John Cannon. Effective Nov. 18, 2019, it will be hung for display so that all residents and guests of our city will know that we are serious about human rights and that we are a welcoming community," he said.

"The city is committed to upholding the human rights of all persons in Portage, including United States citizens and citizens of other nations, and the free exercise and enjoyment of any and all rights and privileges secured by the constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Indiana."

In addition to the government's commitment to upholding human rights, the mayor called upon private citizens and businesses to demonstrate respect for human rights and civil liberties.


November 20, 2019 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Convention OnThe Rights of The Child Turns 30

by Jonathan Todres

Image1Anniversaries are generally cause for celebration. And this week marks a significant one in the children’s rights world. On November 20, 2019, the global community celebrates the 30thth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). What’s impressive about the CRC is not just its breadth of coverage (it’s the most comprehensive treaty on children’s rights) or its widespread acceptance (it’s the most widely-ratified human rights treaty in history). What’s arguably most impressive is its transformative value. The CRC has compelled governments to recognize children as individuals with rights of their own. It has spurred countless laws, policies, and programs aimed at improving child wellbeing. And it has done all this while reaffirming the vital role of the family.

Since the advent of the CRC, we have witnessed significant progress on an array of issues affecting children—under-five child mortality has declined by more than half, school enrollment has increased, child labor has dropped, and gains have been realized in many other areas. So, on November 20th, we should celebrate these positive developments of the CRC era.

And then on November 21, we need to get back to work. Children’s rights—like human rights more broadly—are still a work in progress in every country.

Here in the United States, the “To Do” list is far longer than a short essay can capture. Racial disparities, barriers to education and health care, trafficking and other forms of child exploitation, exploitative child labor, child marriage, and other child rights violations persist in the United States. And arguably the most blatant violations of children’s rights are occurring at the U.S. southern border. As a colleague and I have detailed, the children’s rights abuses perpetrated by the Trump Administration, through its family separation and child detention actions, are extensive. And the trauma inflicted on children, including toddlers, will likely have lifelong adverse consequences. In short, when the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials calls your government’s actions a “crime against humanity,” addressing such gross violations of human rights must be at the top of any priority list.

Of course, the United States is the only country that has not ratified the CRC. Despite this, the treaty can still be an asset we can use to strengthen communities and support children’s development. After all, many of us are guided in our daily lives by moral, ethical or religious principles that are not enshrined in law. Children’s rights law offers the same potential. So while we may have to wait for U.S. ratification of the CRC, children’s rights frameworks can be employed effectively at the state and local level. UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative offers one potential model for partnering with cities and towns to help ensure children’s wellbeing.

Finally, perhaps the biggest lesson from the CRC is the value of children’s voices. Article 12 of the CRC establishes that children have a right to be heard. And their voices can make a difference. We need only look to recent youth advocacy on gun violence and climate change to see the positive power that children have and the thoughtful vision they have for their future and ours.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, universal human rights begin ‘in small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.’

Each of us can support and strengthen children’s rights by beginning close to home. We can use the CRC as a guide for creating more rights-respecting communities. And, most important, we can listen to and help ensure that all children are heard on matters that affect their lives.

November 19, 2019 in Children, Jonathan Todres | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, November 18, 2019

For World Toilet Day: A New Resource on Water and Sanitation Access in the US

November 19 is World Toilet Day, and this month's SDG Goal of the Month is Clean Water and Sanitation.  Lack of access to clean affordable water is a growing issue in the U.S., already affecting millions of people across the country. On November 18, Dig Deep and the US Water Alliance  published a comprehensive new resource, Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan.  The report confirms that over two million Americans lack access to water and sanitation.

Among other things, the report notes that race is the biggest factor in determining access to water and sanitation in the US, with native americans the least likely group to have running water at home.

Take the time to review the report, including its proposals for action.  This is a crisis that will only get worse with climate change and aging infrastructure.  The time to take action is now.



November 18, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Strengthening the Collaborations Between Regional Human Rights Institutions

The Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Newsletter reports:

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to operationalize the International Human Rights Forum.

The Forum seeks to enhance judicial dialogue, publish annual reports on the leading judgments of the three courts with commentaries, undertake knowledge-sharing on human rights issues through digital platforms, and develop on-line learning courses, among other activities.  Particular topics for collaboration and information-sharing include migration, violence against women, environmental hazards, climate change, bioethics, terrorism, mass data surveillance and the working methods of the three courts.

The next meeting of the Forum will be hosted by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France in 2021.

November 17, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Examining The State Department's Commission on Unalienable Rights

The U.S. State Department's new Commission on Unalienable Rights convened for the first time in late October.  Following the first meeting, the Center for American Progress raised five critical questions about the Commission and its agenda. 

The Columbia Human Rights Law Review On-line is running a series of commentary on the Commission.  The first, by Risa Kaufman, Director of US Human Rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights, is here.  The second, written by JoAnn Kamuf Ward (Columbia HR Institute) and Catherine Flowers (Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice), is available here.  The first two meetings of the Commission were noticed in the Federal Register, which also described the agenda for the meetings.

November 14, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

International Legal Ethics in Divided Times - Call for Proposals

UCLA will host the International Legal Ethics Conference in July, 2020. Lawyers in Divided Times will bring together practitioners, scholars and others to address ethical issues that have become particularly acute.  To follow is the information on submitting a proposal.

Proposals for presenting a paper or panel are invited from scholars from all disciplines, legal professionals, judges, and students. Presenters are encouraged to submit papers within one of the following seven streams:

  1. Culture, Technology, Ethics and Society
  2. Empirical and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession
  3. Globalization and the Legal Profession
  4. Philosophy and Legal Ethics
  5. Regulation of the Profession and Judiciary
  6. Ethics and Legal Education
  7. Ethics and the Rule of Law

The Conference will be organized into panel sessions of 90 minutes each. Normally, three to four papers will be presented in any one session. Applicants may submit individual papers, which will be assigned to appropriate panels by the organizers. Proposals for a panel session with identified participants, involving paper presentations or other formats, are encouraged.

Proposals for a paper or for a panel session must include an abstract of between 100 and 250 words. If the proposal is for a panel session, the name of the panelists must also be identified. Abstracts should include title, author/s and institutional affiliation. Up to five key words should also be provided at the end of the abstract.

Proposals should either indicate the stream in which the paper or panel is to be presented or identify with clarity an alternative theme within which the proposal sits.

In order to accommodate a diverse group of presenters, participants should not present in more than two events.

The deadline date for proposals is February 29, 2020.

Proposals should be submitted to Scott Cummings at [email protected] with the subject heading: ILEC 2020 Proposal.

November 13, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Who Are Our Readers? -- You Might be Surprised! And You Should Certainly be Aware . . .

From time to time, we take a look at our reader log to see who is reading our posts.  Here's a snapshot from recent logins.

First, a lot of our readership is domestic -- that's not surprising since the focus of the blog is US human rights.  However, what is surprising is how often accounts originating in the US Department of Justice are checking in.  Are they surveilling us or our readers?  Or are there human rights buffs embedded in DOJ?  We don't know, but DOJ accounts make up some of our most regular and avid readers, keeping the site open for hours at a time.  Other domestic readers sometimes hail from the federal courts or from state agencies.  Many, not surprisingly, originate in US universities.  A recent snapshot includes the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami, and Santa Clara University, all with strong human rights programs.  Some readers are simply identified by their city and state -- hailing from Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and New Hampshire, in the past few hours.  

Second, we have a significant international readership, indicating that there is a strong interest worldwide in US perspectives on human rights.  In just the past 24 hours at the time of this writing, we've had readers log in from Turkey, Japan, Germany, India, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, the UK, Bangladesh, Norway, Morocco, and Israel.  And almost every day, we have folks login from different corners of the planet to read Lauren Bartlett's popular blog entry from 2015, the Human Rights of Love. 

In the past, we've had readers from both Russia and the Ukraine.  Could that have something to do with DOJ's interest in our blog?  Again, we don't know, but under the circumstances, all of this makes us thankful for the robust protection that the First Amendment receives in our Constitution!

If you would like more detail, please contact one of the editors. 

Meanwhile, thanks to you, our readers, for following this blog!

November 12, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 11, 2019

TI and Virginity Tests in the US

By now most know of Rapper TI's disclosure that he attends his daughter's annual gynecology exam so that the doctor can perform a "virginity test" and inform TI of the results.  When his daughter turned 18 the doctor informed TI and his daughter that the doctor could not give TI the results without his daughter's consent.  TI told his daughter to give consent.

But this post is about the US media's coverage of the story.   Every major news outlet led the story with a discussion of the physiology of the hymen, noting that a "virginity" test is a myth.  Then follows a discussion of the tissue that constitutes the hymen and the ways in which it may be torn, and how hymens do not typically cover the entire vagina.  This was the lead part of the story with Fox News, the New York Times, Boston Globe and others.  Are we supposed to focus on TI's error and his lack accurate information on vaginas and hymens? 

The appropriate lead story is "Rapper TI abuses his daughter by demanding that she be virginity tested each year and that he receive the results."  Or "male supremacist believes he has the right to control women's bodies."    Women are property and TI was enforcing his ownership rights.    TI gave no thought to his daughter's autonomy and privacy. And apparently, neither does the US media. 

November 11, 2019 in Books and articles, Domestic Violence, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Government Corruption is a Human Rights Issue

Yes, here in the US, we've got constitutional prohibitions on emoluments and federal laws on bribery.  But in recent statements, Walter Shaub, former director of the US Office of Government Ethics and this year's recipient of the Paul Douglas Award for Ethics in Government, has started drawing on the language of human rights to make his points about the wrong directions he sees the federal government taking. 

As Shaub stated earlier this week at the Douglas award ceremony in Illinois, corruption is a "human rights issue." In short, "government officials who help themselves are stealing from the most vulnerable members of our society” -- a fact that we can all see for ourselves as the taxpayer-funded costs for the current President's self-dealing trips and perks pile up. 

The wisdom of a human rights approach bears up under academic scrutiny.  A recent issue of the European Journal of Human Rights includes a critical essay by Anne Peters.  While she decries vague charges that corruption violates human rights, she ultimately concludes that "[t]he framing of corruption not only as a human rights issue but even as a potential human rights violation can contribute to closing the implementation gap of the international anti-corruption instruments and can usefully complement the predominant criminal law-based approach."

For our prior commentary on human rights and corruption in the US in the context of the President's tax returns, see our blog here

November 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Gun Violence and Human Rights

Volume 60 of the Wash. U. Journal of Law and Policy is dedicated to examining gun violence, with several excellent articles focusing on human rights analyses.  You can read them on-line here.

For a live discussion of gun violence and human rights, attend the discussion, November 7, from 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m., at Harvard's Carr Center, featuring Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.   The Carr Center's talk series, Human Rights in Hard Places, features insights and analysis "from the frontlines by human rights practitioners, policy makers, and innovators." 

November 6, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Who Could Oppose Child Marriage?

New Jersey and Delaware have outlawed marriage for anyone under the age of 18, with no exceptions.  While more and more states, including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts advance bills that would eliminate marriage for anyone under the age of 16, federal law permits fiancee visas to issue without regard to the age of the requesting spouse or the spouse seeking legal US status. 

To remedy this situation, three senators submitted a bill that would prohibit either party to a fiancee visa from being under the age of 18.  The bill reads: This bill requires an alien who seeks to qualify for a nonimmigrant visa as the fiance or spouse of a U.S. citizen to be at least 18 years old, and the sponsoring U.S. citizen must also be at least 18 years old. The bill also establishes that the terms "spouse," "wife," and "husband" shall not apply to any individual less than 18 years old for the purposes of the immigration and nationality laws.

"So why is this bill languishing?   Fraidy Reis and her organization, Unchained at Last, have been documenting child marriage across the United States and advocating with states to pass anti-child marriage legislation. Between 200-2015 over 200,000 minors were married in the United States.   87% were girls and 86% of those girls married adults.  Many of the minors report that they were abused during the marriage. Rachael Clement, chair of Girls not Brides, an organization tackling child marriage internationally, said that  "In U.S. foreign policy we don't support child early or forced marriage." and she noted that  the role of states' rights can make those policies difficult to navigate."

"Child marriage, almost always between a male adult and a female minor, can rob young girls of their education, personal development, and physical and mental health," said Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas. "Our immigration laws shouldn't be used to encourage child marriage."    The bill is languishing in the Senate Judiciary and reportedly has not made an progress since March.  This easily could be a bi-partisan effort.  Citizen's inquiries to their senators might cause the bill to move forward.


November 5, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Recognition of a Human Rights Scholar and Activist

Congratulations to Professor Lucy Williams of Northeastern University School of Law, who has been recognized with a Professional Achievement Award by the University of Chicago for her lifetime body of work devoted to realizing economic and social rights in the U.S. and worldwide.  More information on Professor Williams and the award is here.  Professor Williams' publications, including a recent chapter on costs and ESC rights, are available here.

Professor Williams is a co-director of Northeastern's Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, and convener of the International Social and Economic Rights Project, a group of international academics, judges and activists working to encourage transformative thinking about social and economic rights and SER-based legal strategies.

The award ceremony will be held in Chicago on November 8. More information on the program and registration is here.

November 4, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

HRW Files Complaint with UN Human Rights Council

The Amsterdam News reported on Human Rights Watch's complaint with the Human Rights Council.   "When one thinks of complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Council, over human rights, one almost always assumes the accused nations are dictatorial regimes carrying out xenophobic agendas." 

Now the complaint of human rights violations is filed against the United States, which withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council last year.  HRW alleges that the "United States has failed to implement recommendations it agreed to in its 2015 Universal Periodic Review of protection of human rights in the domestic sphere reviews, including those involving treatment of immigrants, criminal justice and policing, access to health care, women’s rights and privacy." In 2015 the United States agreed to implement UN recommendations that followed the 2015 Periodic Review. 

As to immigration, the most immediate concern, the petition, among its recommendations, request that the Council recommend that the US:

    Stop separating child migrants from their family members except where a trained child welfare     professional has determined separation is in the child’s best interest;

    End the Migrant Protection Protocols program and ensure broad access to US asylum procedures;

    Guarantee access to adequate medical care for all detained immigrants and ensure effective and       appropriate oversight, including public release of investigations into detainee deaths;

    End the use of expedited removal procedures at the border and in the interior of the country.

While the recommendations are unlikely to prompt any change in US policy, the petition is important for documenting US human rights failures.  And to document resistance.

November 3, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 1, 2019

November Bookshelf: Human Rights in the Age of Platforms

A new Open Access book is coming from MIT Press this month:  Human Rights in the Age of Platforms, edited by Rikke Frank Jørgensen.

Here's the publisher's summary:

"Today such companies as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter play an increasingly important role in how users form and express opinions, encounter information, debate, disagree, mobilize, and maintain their privacy. What are the human rights implications of an online domain managed by privately owned platforms? According to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted by the UN Human Right Council in 2011, businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights and to carry out human rights due diligence. But this goal is dependent on the willingness of states to encode such norms into business regulations and of companies to comply. In this volume, contributors from across law and internet and media studies examine the state of human rights in today's platform society.

The contributors consider the “datafication” of society, including the economic model of data extraction and the conceptualization of privacy. They examine online advertising, content moderation, corporate storytelling around human rights, and other platform practices. Finally, they discuss the relationship between human rights law and private actors, addressing such issues as private companies' human rights responsibilities and content regulation.

Contributors Anja Bechmann, Fernando Bermejo, Agnès Callamard, Mikkel Flyverbom, Rikke Frank Jørgensen, Molly K. Land, Tarlach McGonagle, Jens-Erik Mai, Joris van Hoboken, Glen Whelan, Jillian C. York, Shoshana Zuboff, Ethan Zuckerman"

November 1, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)