Thursday, June 10, 2021
Event: June 24th Discussion on the rights of indigenous women and girls with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will hold a virtual day of general discussion on the rights of indigenous women and girls. The Committee states that "the purpose of the day of general discussion is to stimulate debate and seek inputs for the elaboration by the Committee of a General Recommendation on the rights of indigenous women and girls. The aim of the General Recommendation will be to provide guidance to States parties to the Convention on the measures they should adopt to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Convention to respect and protect the rights of indigenous women and girls."
The discussion will take place online on Thursday June 24, 2021, from 12:30pm-2:30pm and from 4:00pm-6:00pm (Geneva time)/ 6:30am-8:30am and 10:00am-12noon (Eastern time). (Link to be posted here at a later date).
The Committee welcomes written submissions which should be sent electronically in Word format to Marco Zanin, Human Rights Officer, at email@example.com, indicating "Submission - General discussion on GRIWAG" in the subject. Submissions must not exceed a maximum of 3,300 words and must be received by June 18, 2021 at the latest.
If you wish to deliver a brief oral statement during the discussion, it must not exceed 3 minutes and you must indicate your intention to do so and must send your statement electronically in Word format to Marco Zanin at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 18, 2021 at the latest, indicating "Registration - General discussion on GRIWAG"in the subject.
More information on this event is available here.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
The following UN Human Rights Mechanisms have issued calls for inputs with deadlines in June and July 2021 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:
Special Rapporteur on the right to everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – Call for inputs on the right to sexual and reproductive health–challenges and possibilities during COVID-19. Deadline Jun 10, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants - Call for inputs on the impact of COVID-19 on the human rights of migrants. Deadline June 14, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression - Call for submissions on gender justice and the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Deadline June 14, 2021. Read more.
Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order – Call for inputs on the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a serious test to multilateralism, laying bare its weaknesses and how it could be the opportunity for a strengthened, more effected and inclusive multilateralism. Deadline June 18, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism – Call for inputs on the human rights dimensions of technical assistance and capacity building in the counter-terrorism and countering/preventing violent extremism areas. Deadline June 30, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – Call for inputs on the protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests during crisis situations. Deadline July 31, 2021. Read more.
This information was compiled by Khala Turner, rising 3L at St. Louis University School of Law, from https://ohchr.org/EN/Pages/calls-for-input.aspx.
Monday, June 7, 2021
On Thursday June 2, 2021, the United States submitted a periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is the first treaty report that the United States has submitted since 2016. The 2021 U.S. report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination states that it is responding to the Committee’s Request for the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth periodic reports of the United States under article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
This blog welcomes your thoughts and analyses of the new report. Please contact Editor Lauren Bartlett if you would like to submit a post.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Just Security is publishing a series of articles starting this week which outline the origins and the scientific, legal, and ethical underpinnings of the newly released “Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering,” also known as the “Méndez Principles.” These principles are an expert-led initiative responding to a 2016 appeal to the U.N. General Assembly by former U.N. Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez to develop such standards.
The Méndez Principles series on Just Security is being compiled here.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
The UCLA Law Review recently published a full issue on Transnational Legal Discourse on Race and Empire. All of the articles in that issue resulted from its January 2020 law review symposium featuring Third World Approaches to International Law scholars and Critical Race Theory scholars engaged in collaboration.
UCLA Law Review Volume 67, Issue 6 is available here. Wadie E. Said writes The Destabilizing Effect of Terrorism in the International Human Rights Regime, Adelle Blackett with Alice Duquesnoy write Slavery Is Not a Metaphor: U.S. Prison Labor and Racial Subordination Through the Lens of the ILO’s Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, and E. Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and professor of Law at UCLA, writes Race and Empire: Legal Theory Within, Through, and Across National Borders and Critical Race Theory Meets Third World Approaches to International Law. There's lots more and it is all worth a read.
Monday, May 10, 2021
Claudio Grossman, Pandemics and International Law: The Need for International Action, Human Rights Brief, Vol. 24, Iss. 3, Art. 2 (2021). Excerpt below.
"This Article argues that, due to the experience of COVID-19, it is important that the ILC of the United Nations considers the adoption of a normative instrument whose purpose would be the regulation of pandemics – before, during, and after they occur. There is a compelling need to act, stressing prevention and common reaction by the international community when these scourges occur, and the existing normative framework has shown its incapacity to organize the type of global mobilization that pandemics require. This Article will first provide a brief background into relevant topics, and then it will summarize key issues noted during the November 18 conference. Lastly, it will conclude by providing a recommendation for further action."
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Please Join the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, the Migration and Human Rights Program at Cornell Law School, and the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, for a symposium on May 18-20th, 2021, revisiting the 14 Principles of Protection for Migrants, Refugees and Other Displaced Persons.
This symposium marks the one year anniversary of the publication of the 14 Principles and will consist of a series of 45-minute sessions will explore how migrants, including refugees, have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and the new and emerging ways in which the human rights of these populations are likely to be challenged going forward.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, in its second digital edition, will be available to audiences across the U.S. from May 19 through 27, 2021, on its streaming site. Ten films are being presented on wide-ranging topics from the education of children with disabilities, a film following queer Black Lives Matter protesters in the U.S., to the continuing war in Colombia. Tickets may be purchased individually for each film for $9.oo or a $70.00 festival pass is available for all ten films that are part of the festival.
Human Rights Watch also states: "We do not want the cost of entry to be a barrier for participation in the festival. If the price of buying a ticket to this film would prevent you from participating, please email the following address (email@example.com) + you will receive an auto-reply email with a free ticket code. We have set aside a set # of tickets per film on a first come first-served basis. Once the free tickets are no longer available, the code will no longer work."
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on guilty verdict in George Floyd case
Geneva, 21 April 2021
“This is a momentous verdict. It is also a testament to the courage and perseverance of George Floyd’s family and many others in calling for justice. As the jury recognised, the evidence in this case was crystal clear. Any other result would have been a travesty of justice.
But for countless other victims of African descent and their families, in the United States and throughout the world, the fight for justice goes on. The battle to get cases of excessive force or killings by police before the courts, let alone win them, is far from over.
Impunity for crimes and human rights violations by law enforcement officers must end, and we need to see robust measures to prevent further arbitrary killings. As we have painfully witnessed in recent days and weeks, reforms to policing departments across the US continue to be insufficient to stop people of African descent from being killed. It is time to move on from talk of reform to truly rethinking policing as currently practised in the US and elsewhere.
This case has also helped reveal, perhaps more clearly than ever before, how much remains to be done to reverse the tide of systemic racism that permeates the lives of people of African descent. We need to move to whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches that dismantle systemic racism.
I recognize that in the US important steps are being put in place with that end in mind. These efforts must accelerate and expand, and must not be diluted when the public focus moves elsewhere.
Now is also the time to critically examine the context in which George Floyd’s killing took place by revisiting the past, and examining its toxic traces in today’s society. The redesign of our future can only be through the full and equal participation of people of African descent, and in ways which transform their interactions with law enforcement, and, more broadly, in all aspects of their lives.
The entrenched legacy of discriminatory policies and systems, including the legacies of enslavement and transatlantic trade and the impact of colonialism, must be decisively uprooted in order to achieve racial justice and equality. If they are not, the verdict in this case will just be a passing moment when the stars aligned for justice, rather than a true turning point.”
Link to statement here.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Call for Proposals: University of Dayton Human Rights Center's The Social Practice of Human Rights Conference
The Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton will convene the 2021 Social Practice of Human Rights Conference in December 2021 and will focus on the challenges and opportunities the pandemic has created for human rights advocacy. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2021.
The Call for Proposals states that submissions are welcome on the following:
- New or refined tools, methods, and strategies for advocacy emerging during the pandemic, including in transnational advocacy and international institutions;
- Confronting historical legacies of abuse in moments of flux and transition, including reshaping public spaces (eg. memorials, schools) to advance justice;
- New forms of public-private partnerships in human rights and corporate-sector advocacy, including by labor and employee movements; and
- The emergence of intersectional advocacy groups, movements, and networks building relationships across borders and connecting issue areas that leverage this particular political moment.
I attended this conference in 2015 and loved the mix of scholars and practitioners, lawyers and non-lawyers, all in dialogue with one another.
Sunday, April 18, 2021
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has announced that the 180th Period of Sessions (June 21-July 2nd) will be again held virtually. The portal for requesting hearings and working meetings for the 180th Period of Sessions is open until April 21, 2021. Information available here.
In other news, the United States has nominated human rights law professor Alexandra Huneeus for the position of Commissioner on the IACHR for the 2022-2025 term. The United States has nominated Ms. Alexandra Huneeus, J.D., Ph.D., for the position of Commission on the IACHR for the 2022-2025 term. Her CV is available here and the nomination letter from the U.S. Permanent Mission to the OAS is available here.
Thank you to Professor Sarah Paoletti for this info!
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
New Article: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States: A Call to Action for Inspired Advocacy in Indian Country
Kristen Carpenter, Edyael Casaperalta, and Danielle Lazore-Thompson, Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States: A Call to Action for Inspired Advocacy in Indian Country, U. Colo. L. Rev. Forum (Mar. 6, 2020). Introduction excerpt below:
In 2007, following decades of advocacy by indigenous peoples, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration). This is a standard-setting document supported by the 148 member nations, including the United States, committing to the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples. These rights include the right to self-determination, equality, property, culture, and economic well-being. John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), has said that the Declaration affirms many of the rights for which American Indians have been fighting throughout generations. It “recognizes the rights of [indigenous] people to self determination, their traditional lands, and their cultures and religions,” all central aspects of tribal sovereignty. According to Echohawk, it was the tribal leaders who pushed President Barack Obama to express national support for the Declaration in hope that it would “help the tribes prevail in the U.S. judicial, legislative, and administrative forums.”
Today’s challenge is to realize the promises of the Declaration in the lives of indigenous peoples. In 2018, the University of Colorado Law School (CU Law) and NARF committed to working on this challenge in the context of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian rights. Together they launched the joint “Project to Implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States” (Project). In 2019, CU Law and NARF held a joint conference to set the groundwork for the Project (the Conference), gathering tribal leaders, attorneys, scholars, students, activists, and others to share ideas about the current state of federal Indian law and how the Declaration might be used to inform advocacy in the field. This Report provides a summary of the Conference and suggests next steps for assessing and advancing use of the Declaration in advocacy regarding indigenous peoples’ rights in the United States.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Congratulations to the members of the newly established White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council!
Establishing the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) is a historic step towards expanding environmental human rights in the U.S. and I am so pleased to see human rights friends and advocates Catherine Flowers, Michele Roberts, Juan Parras, Dr. Robert Bullard, and Dr. Beverly Wright appointed as WHEJAC members!
The new WHEJAC is tasked with increasing the Federal Government’s efforts to address environmental injustice and its efforts are to include "a broad range of strategic, scientific, technological, regulatory, community engagement, and economic issues related to environmental justice." WHEJAC held its first meeting on March 30, 2021. Be on the look out for future WHEJAC meetings to be announced here.
This news follows shortly after UN human rights experts again raised concerns about "Cancer Alley" in Louisiana in a joint statement released last week. In that joint statement, several UN human rights experts applauded Biden's executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis, which establishing WHEJAC.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
The following UN Human Rights Mechanisms have issued calls for inputs with deadlines in April and May 2021 and law professors whose research and scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:
Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery – Call for inputs on the role of organized criminal groups with regard to contemporary forms of slavery. Deadline April 16, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights – Call for inputs from States and Stakeholders to inform a thematic report on the lifecycle of plastics and human rights. Deadline April 21, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on violence against women – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s report on femicide. Deadline April 30, 2021. Read more.
Independent Expert on human rights and the environment – Call for inputs on healthy and sustainable food: reducing the environmental impacts of the global food system on human rights. Deadline May 1, 2021. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children – Call for inputs on the gender dimensions of the sale and sexual exploitation of children and the importance of integrating a human rights-based and a non-binary approach to combating and eradicating sale and sexual exploitation of children. Deadline May 10, 2021. Read more.
This information was compiled from https://ohchr.org/EN/Pages/calls-for-input.aspx.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
By Abigail Ramos, 2L at the City University of New York School of Law.
Little has changed for farmworkers since the original enactment of the Federal Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) in 1938. Along with domestic workers, Congress carved out farmworkers from the legislation’s bedrock promise of overtime. As a result, people who cultivate, pick, and package our food do not get fairly compensated for their backbreaking work and about 30 percent live below the poverty line.
At the time of passage, Black people comprised the majority of farmworkers. The bill was unlikely to pass without the support of southern Democrats, who required the racially motivated exclusion for their vote on the bill to maintain white farmers’ exploitive labor practices. Presently, there are more than 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States, 68 percent of whom are from Mexico. Even now, their continued exclusion is rooted in the country’s reliance on unethical and racialized labor.
No federal court has moved the needle in reversing the statute’s harm. For this reason, states have played a crucial role in guaranteeing overtime pay. Currently, only six states have some form of overtime protections for farmworkers. In New York, overtime is considered after 60 hours worked whereas in California, phase-in legislation provided for overtime after 45 hours worked starting in 2021. Last November, the Washington state supreme court in Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Bros. Dairy, 475 P.3d 164 (2020), held that farmworkers were entitled to overtime after 40 hours worked under the state constitution.
The 5-4 decision interpreted Article II, Section 35 of the state’s constitution, which requires the legislature to pass “necessary laws for the protection of” workers in employment “dangerous to life or deleterious to health.” Dairy workers argued that they fell under this classification. The court firmly concluded that dairy workers were protected by the state constitution, citing 24-hour milking for 3,000 cows every day as an example of their grueling work conditions. Additionally, the defendant DeRuyter Brothers Dairy forced workers to stay until all cows were milked. The court relied on statistics regarding the injury rate for dairy workers, which in 2015 was “121 percent higher than all other state industries combined and 19 percent higher than the entire agricultural sector.”
The legal victory was the result a unique collaboration between Familias Unidas Por La Justicia (FUJ), Columbia Legal Services (CLS), and Frank Freed Subit & Thomas LLP. FUJ is an “independent farmworker union of indigenous families” formed in 2013 in the west side of Washington state. The union has been a catalyst in pushing for political and cultural shifts in farmworker issues. It has frequently partnered with CLS since its creation, also winning the right to paid rest breaks for farmworkers and requiring employers to provide reasonable access to bathrooms and toilet facilities for farmworkers.
There are more than 100,000 farmworkers in Washington state who benefit from the decision. “Our union has stepped up to it almost unintentionally, but the opportunities are there for us to do more than just a contract,” Edgar Franks, Political Director of FUJ, told HRAH Blog. “A contract [is] awesome because we helped 500 farmworkers here in Skagit [County]. But these lawsuits have the potential of helping hundreds of thousands.”
The celebratory win for this historic decision was cut short, after state Republicans responded with SB 5172, proposed legislation that would have overturned the decision. Originally, in reaction to the agricultural industry’s cry that it would be unable to pay overtime costs, the bill would have limited the court’s ability to grant overtime pay when it would “create a substantially inequitable result.” It was proposed by two state Senators with close ties to the pro-farmer group Washington Farm Bureau. But after FUJ intervened, the proposal was amended to include the compromise of a three-year phase-in period, similar to California’s, and is pending in the state house.
“We didn’t want the phase-in. We wanted it straight out to get implemented,” Franks responded. “[F]or 60 years, workers were denied these benefits intentionally and that was to the benefit to the industry.”
As Washington joins the small list of states remedying nearly a century of injustice, Franks hopes more people will not only become aware of the challenges farmworkers face in their own communities but will partake in the workers’ movements. He said, “Everybody has a role to play in supporting farmworkers, whether it be just community people or churches or students and lawyers: all of us have a role.”
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
On April 8th and 9th, 2021, the American University Washington College of Law International Human Rights Law Clinic will hold live Zoom panels discussing advocacy and litigation efforts against solitary confinement in the United States. This event will feature stories from solitary confinement survivors and provide a platform for attorneys and human rights advocates to present their work fighting against solitary confinement. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Registration is available:
April 8, 2021, 12-1:30pm ET - Day 1 Strategies to Combat U.S. Solitary Confinement: Domestic Legal Approaches https://bit.ly/31EhGrd
April 9, 2021, 12-1:30pm ET - Day 2 Strategies to Combat U.S. Solitary Confinement: International Legal Approaches https://bit.ly/3wmiglc
Sunday, April 4, 2021
On April 12 and 16, 2021, the University of Miami School of Law International and Graduate Law Programs and Human Rights Clinic, in collaboration with the Human Rights Society, Health Law Association, and University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review —will examine the impact of COVID-19 on international law through a virtual symposium. Speakers include:
- Claudio Grossman, Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus, Raymond I. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law; Member, UN International Law Commission
- Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing; Global Director, The Shift
- Charles C. Jalloh, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law; Member, UN International Law Commission
- Antonia Urrejola Noguera, President, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
- Nilüfer Oral, Law Faculty, Istanbul Bilgi University; Member, UN International Law Commission
To register and for more information please visit: https://www.law.miami.edu/academics/clinics/human-rights-clinic/international-law-covid19-symposium
Monday, March 29, 2021
Nancy Kelehar, 20 Years of Detention: Decision Time for Biden on Guantanamo Bay, Human Rights Pulse (March 22, 2021). An excerpt:
"As we approach the 20th anniversary since almost 3,000 people lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, the 19 years of human rights abuses and crimes under international law committed at Guantánamo Bay should be recognised and ended..."
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Legal Interviewing and Language Access videos produced by Professors Laila Hlass of Tulane University Law School and Lindsay Harris of UDC David A. Clarke School of Law are a terrific resource for law professors teaching interviewing, especially in the context of interviewing survivors of trauma and using interpreters in interviews.
I have been assigning these videos each semester to my Human Rights at Home Litigation Clinic students at St. Louis University School of Law as part of a unit on interviewing. All of our clients are survivors of trauma and we often use interpreters in our interviews. My students also always interview in teams. My students tell me that they often go back and watch the videos again and again to help them prepare for interviews. They also often specifically mention these videos in their midsemester and final evaluations. Here are a couple of examples from student evaluations:
"The videos emphasized for me the importance of being prepared for the client interview, planning with my clinic partner regarding who will ask which questions and who will take notes, having a clear plan regarding next steps so the client knows what to expect, and being conscientious of cultural differences and implicit biases. I am using all of this information as I prepare for my client interview, especially as my clinic partner and I plan the division of labor for the interview itself. From that class, I now appreciate the impact of effective preparation on client interviews and am aware of how unprofessional we could come across if we’re not well-prepared."
"The class on interviewing was especially helpful in the x matter. We have made many client phone calls and learned the difficulties of using interpreters first hand. The class helped us shape our interview outlines to be less “Yes or No” focused, ask more probing questions, be more prepared as a team, and also add more client specific questions. We had a few clients who jumped at the opportunity to tell their story, which also required a lot of active listening. By having one partner take notes and the other conduct the interview, it allowed the interviewing partner to actively listen to what our client is telling us and easily create follow-up questions based on what we are hearing (making the entire experience more like a conversation)."
"I was never really trained on translating. It had never crossed my mind how the using the third-party pronouns could confuse a client and different ways to better serve both the attorney and the client."
You can access the videos through youtube. If you would like the teaching guides, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com stating your affiliation and planned purpose for the videos. They have also created a short video explaining how you might use their videos.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
On Monday March 22, 2021, the Evanston, Illinois, City Council approved a $400,000 allocation towards the City's Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program. This is the first government reparations program for African Americans established in the US.
The Evanston Reparations Program will initially make $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants and provide mortgage assistance for Black residents. Eligibility requirements include individuals who have lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or be a direct descendant of an individual harmed by discriminatory housing policies or practices during this time period. Individuals who have lived in Evanston after 1969 and can demonstrate discriminatory housing practices by the City may also be eligible. This program accounts for $400,000 – or 4 percent – of the $10 million in funding designated by the City Council to support local reparations programs and initiatives in Evanston.
A video of the historic City Council meeting in Evanston on Monday is available here.