Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Event 1/18: Human Rights of Women Webinar

On January 18, from 4:30-5:30pm EST, join the ABA International Law Section’s Women’s Interest Network (WIN) and the ABA International Human Rights Committee for a special webinar devoted to the current status of human rights of women and consider the advances in as well as backlash against human rights of women since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 75 years ago. The distinguished speakers will include Judge Delissa Ridgway, Elizabeth M. Zechenter, and Catherine van Kampen.

The Zoom link for the webinar can be found here.

January 16, 2024 in Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Women's Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

One Thing the U.S. Must Do to Protect Human Rights in the Immediate Aftermath of the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Samantha Barzaga

By Samantha Barzaga, 2L at Florida State University College of Law and a member of the International Human Rights Advocacy Clinic

December 10, 2023, marked the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document outlined, for the first time, a fundamental global standard of human rights for universal protection. The Biden administration should commemorate this special occasion by designating Temporary Protected Status for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is a program that allows migrants living in unsafe countries to work and live in the United States for an extendable period of time. The Department of Homeland Secretary can designate a country for TPS if there has been an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or some other extraordinary condition that would not allow nationals to return. Though only one is required, the DRC satisfies all of these requirements.

Since 1996, the Central African region has faced escalating conflict. This is largely due to the First Congo War, beginning in the wake of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. After this genocide, nearly two million Hutu refugees settled in the North and South Kivu provinces. Some of these refugees were Hutu extremists, which led to the organization of militias by Hutu groups, and eventually Tutsi militias to combat these Hutu groups in the Congo. The result was a gruesome war replete with human rights abuses and mass displacement.

The Second Congo War in 1998 was similar to the first war, eventually ending in 2003. It caused around five million deaths, and millions of people remained internally displaced by 2008. These wars have led to ongoing conflict and human rights abuses through today, exacerbated by intervening causes along the way including a severe Ebola outbreak in 2018 and the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in 2021.

I spoke with a Congolese refugee who experienced the 1996 conflict firsthand. He lived in the city of Uvira and remembered leaving the Congo in October of 1996. He walked almost 500 kilometers to the city of Kalemie, and on the way witnessed rampant shootings and people running for their lives. He saw a baby get shot, and the mother left the baby and ran away. He recalled people running into lakes and drowning. Someone was beheaded in front of him. He survived by drinking rancid water and consuming tree roots. When he arrived in Kalemie, youths were being recruited to join the rebel soldiers, so he eventually fled to Meheba refugee camp in Zambia. From there he made his way to Zimbabwe, where he met his wife and started a family. He eventually ended up in the United States just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This refugee’s story is one of countless similar narratives as confirmed by The UN Mapping Report, which catalogs the most serious human rights incidents occurring in the DRC between 1993 and 2003. It highlights the ramifications of this conflict including the inability to protect borders, prosecute crimes, and maintain strong branches of government.

For these reasons, hundreds of organizations and over fifty members of Congress have called on the Biden administration to designate TPS for the DRC. The U.S. has previously acknowledged the severity of the situation in the DRC. In October 2022, the Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory warning U.S. citizens not to travel to the DRC. The advisory underscored the ongoing conflict, violence against civilians, and humanitarian crisis. It is time for the Biden administration to heed the call to protect the Congolese. There is no better time than the immediate aftermath of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

December 27, 2023 in Migrants, Refugees, Universal Declaration of Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 21, 2023

New Op-Ed: How Biden can formalize his promises to safeguard human rights

Jamil Dakwar and Noah Ponton, How Biden can formalize his promises to safeguard human rights, The Hill (Dec. 21., 2023). Excerpt below.

This December marks 75 years since the adoption of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a monumental document that has mainstreamed human rights and put them at the center of global freedom, peace and justice.

For President Biden, who declared at the beginning of his presidency that human rights are “among the most powerful and persuasive tools in our foreign policy kit,” this anniversary is an inflection point for his administration to reflect on how it has attempted to overcome his predecessor’s shameful record on human rights and lead “by the power of our example.” 

December 21, 2023 in Universal Declaration of Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Event 12/7: UDHR Anniversary Celebration with Center for Reproductive Rights

On December 7, 2023, from 9-10 A.M. EST, join the Center for Reproductive Rights and other leading human rights organizations for a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). They will be highlighting the critical role of sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality in realizing the promise of the UDHR for all.

The distinguished speakers will be Cataline Devandas, Sibongile Ndashe, Macarena Saez, Monica Simpson, and H.E. Roberto Armando de Leon Huerta. The event will be moderated by Rachana Desai Martin.

There have been both historic advancements and unprecedented assaults on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the past few years. This event will provide a space for participants from key leaders working to advance these rights, particularly the most marginalized, and what still needs to be done to advance and protect human rights for all.

This event is virtual. Find the Zoom link to the webinar here.

December 3, 2023 in Reproductive Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2022

New Article: The State, the UDHR, and the Social Construction of Family in Human Rights: The Case of the Scarborough 11

Abby S. Willis, Mary C. Burke, Davita Silfen Glasberg, The State, the UDHR, and the Social Construction of Family in Human Rights: The Case of the Scarborough 11, Societies Without Borders, Volume 16 Issue 1 (2022). Abstract below.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) declares in Article 16(3) that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to the full protection by society and the state.” However, the UDHR does not define family, but rather presumes it is defined by traditional heteronormative marriage in a nuclear family. The failure of the UDHR to consider a more expansive view of family leaves the definition of family centrally in the hands of the state, and affects the ability of all but traditional nuclear family forms to access other human rights. We add to the scholarship on the role of the state in defining and maintaining family and family inequality through an examination of the case of the Scarborough 11, an intentional family sued by the city of Hartford, CT for violations of residential zoning ordinance based on family. This case challenges hegemonic constructions of family and illustrates the limits of the UDHR to protect all families. The case demonstrates the importance of the related questions: 1) how legal definitions of family create the capacity for local residents to understand non-nuclear families living among them, 2) whether the end-goal of this problem should be to expand the state’s definition of family or remove that power from the state in total (a question of reform vs. abolition) and, 3) what might a case concerning white middle-class professionals’ struggles to thrive tell us about boundary maintenance and the struggles of the poor to survive?

October 10, 2022 in Books and articles, Universal Declaration of Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Ongoing Rollback of Human Rights For Women

The rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are quickly being eroded in the United States.

In an assault on women, the Trump Administration has announced proposed changes that will severely curtail women’s autonomy. 

The administration announced that it is reviewing rolling back a rule that mandates employers who provide health insurance to cover birth control.  Closely held businesses employers were found exempt from the mandate in the Hobby Lobby decision based upon religious freedom. This executive order expands the exemption to all employers who decline to cover birth control upon grounds of conscience, that is religious grounds.  This action, under cover of religious freedom, greatly expands employer choice while further limiting women's reproductive choices. The disdain and disregard in which this administration holds women has never been subtle.  This latest assault particularly affects poor women.  In completing the cover sheet that will accompany the rollback, the administration responded “no” to the query as to whether the change would be economically significant.  

The administration has demonstrated its inability to understand circumstances of those who live outside of the white, wealthy circles in which the president confines himself.  Women of the 1% are unlikely to experience adverse consequences of this rollback.  While wealthy women are more likely to enjoy expansive health benefits, the out of pocket cost of birth control will not force them to make difficult budget choices.  Forcing lower income women to choose between food and birth control or transportation to work and birth control, removes from them one of the few “choices” they have.  The economic impact is significant.

While attending the January Women’s March, I saw an older woman carrying a sign pronouncing “I’m too old to be demonstrating against this *s__t* ”  I get it.  We thought we had won this battle in the 70’s.   Mad Men is back.

May 31, 2017 in Reproductive Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Women's Rights, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)