The following is a list of previous HRP-sponsored or co-sponsored events for the 2008-2009 Academic Year. For more information on these events, please click on the following links or contact the HRP office at email@example.com.
Children and Transitional Justice
Co-convened by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre and the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, this conference brought together scholars, UN officials and practitioners to review and consolidate documentation, research and analysis of the legal framework, thematic issues and case studies on children and transitional justice. A main goal of the conference was to build consensus on a key principles document for the protection of the rights of child victims and witnesses participating in transitional justice mechanisms and processes. Research shared at this conference will form the basis of a Fall 2009 Human Rights Program book, distributed by Harvard University Press, titled, "Children and Transitional Justice: Truth-Telling, Accountability, and Reconciliation."
Learning from the Rwandan Genocide, Remembering Alison Des Forges: Perspectives on Her Life and Work
This event honored the life of human rights advocate Alison Des Forges, former senior advisor for the African Continent for Human Rights Watch and an expert in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Des Forges was the author of a definitive work on the subject, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1964 and received a master’s degree in 1966 and a doctorate in 1972, both in history, from Yale. Panelists for this event included: Catharine Newbury (Professor of Government, Smith College); Lindsey Hilsum (International Editor, Channel 4 News, UK); Barbara Mulvaney (Former Prosecutor, UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda); and Noel Twagiramungu (Tufts University).
The Challenge of Accountability: A Conversation with Major General Antonio Taguba
This event featured Major General Antonio Mario Taguba, a retired general in the U.S. Army, and the author of the 2004 "Taguba Report," an internal U.S. Army report on detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Gen. Taguba spoke of his experience testifying before Congress on the issue of detainee abuse, and examined the question of whether Bush administration officials who ordered the use of torture should be held to account. This event was co-sponsored by the Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and HLS ACLU, and the National Security and Law Association.
Reproductive Health and Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Exploring Myths, Realities, Opportunities and Challenges
This event featured Dr. Angel Foster, a Senior Associate with Ibis Reproductive Health. Foster spoke about her qualitative and quantitative research in the US, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, and Egypt, as well as the challenges and obstacles that reproductive health advocates face in North Africa and the Middle East. Foster currently serves on the advisory committee of the Global Network of Researchers on HIV/AIDS in the MENA region, the steering committee of International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, and the advisory board of the Abortion Access Project and in 2004 was named one of Choice USA’s “30 Under-30 Activists for Reproductive Freedom.”
The United Nations Convention of Persons with Disabilities: A Paradigm Shift
Sponsored by the Office for Public Interest Advising, the Human Rights Program, and the Harvard Law School (HLS) Program on Disability, this event featured HLS Wasserstein Fellow Tanya Smith, Human Rights Officer with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR). Smith spoke about the work the UN is now involved in with regards to persons with disabilities, including the passage of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Globalization and Public Interest Litigation in India
This event featured Colin Gonsalves, the Founder of the India Center for Human Rights Law. Gonzalves spoke on the role of globalization in public interest litigation in India, relaying his experience from work on a number of different cases in Indian courts. Gonsalves is also the founder of the Human Rights Law Network in India, and is a former (1999) fellow with Ashoka, an organization that identifies "social entrepreneurs" in various fields whose work results in significant change.
Interrogations, Forced Feedings, and the Role of Health Professionals
This event commemorated a Spring 2009 Harvard University Press publication by the Human Rights Program, “Interrogations, Forced Feedings, and the Role of Health Professionals.” The event featured four panelists who contributed to the volume, and was moderated by Professor Ryan Goodman, Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. Panelists for the event included: Scott Allen, Assistant Professor (Clinical) Medicine, Brown University; Robert Jay Lifton, Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Stephen Soldz, Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; and Leonard Rubenstein, President and former Executive Director, Physicians for Human Rights.
Speak Frankly About Torture: Exercising International Citizenship
This event featured Darius Rejali, professor of political science at Reed College and an internationally recognized expert on modern torture. in this presentation, Rejali addressed the question of "What are the difficulties under present conditions in speaking the truth to power on the issue of torture?" Rejali is the author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society, and State in Modern Iran, and Torture and Democracy, the winner of the 2008 Best Book, Human Rights Section, American Political Science Association.
New Media, Traditional Communications and Human Rights Advocacy
How did we get from Amnesty International letter writing to Tweeting? This panel, co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program, Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights, and the University Committee for Human Rights Studies looked at strategies for communicating about human rights issues, and how changing media has influenced the ways in which human rights advocates do outreach and get out their message. Panelists included: Sameer Padania (WITNESS); Barbara Becker (EqualShot Communications); and Michael Jones (Communications Director of the Human Rights Program @ Harvard Law School and Gay Rights editor of change.org).
International Law and its Challenges: Advocacy Strategies in the Middle East
This event featured Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division for Human Rights Watch. During this talk, Whitson discussed challenges and opportunities in human rights reporting, documentation and advocacy in the Middle East, and analyzed the impact of the political context on reporting on international humanitarian law violations. She focused on Human Rights Watch’s work on the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war as a case study, and drew on examples from Yemen, Libya and Saudi Arabia. Whitson also described the role of external political forces in shaping reporting and their influence on human rights concerns in the region.
National Human Rights Institutions and the Domestication of International Law
As part of the Human Rights Program’s thematic concentration on National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), this luncheon presentation featured Richard Carver, Associate Lecturer at the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University in England. Carver is an international expert on NHRIs, serving as the lead author of the International Council’s report Performance & Legitimacy: National Human Rights Institutions. Carver has also worked on reports addressing the efficacy of NHRIs in Africa for the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies.
The U.S. and Human Rights: What Difference Would a National Institution Make?
This event, the Human Rights Program’s contribution to Harvard University’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, took the form of a panel of leading human rights experts speaking on the topic of what difference a national human rights institution might make for the United States. The panel consisted of the following: Chris Stone, Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of the Practice of Criminal Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Robin Toma, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission; Yvonne Johnson, Mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina; and Richard Carver, Associate Lecturer at the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University in England. The discussion centered around the United States’ noticeable lack of membership within the international community of national human rights institutions and the call for the formation of such an institution by human rights scholars and advocates. The panelists collectively explored possible forms the institution might take, pros and cons of its establishment, and the manner in which advocates should proceed to secure its creation. Professor Ryan Goodman, Director of the Human Rights Program and Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School served as moderator.
The International Court of Justice and Enforcement of Human Rights Law: Reflections from the Georgia v. Russia Case
Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University, recently spoke about his role as counsel for Georgia in the International Court of Justice case against Russia. Akhavan, widely esteemed as an expert on international law and international criminal law, has been featured in numerous publications, including the Harvard Human Rights Journal. He received both his L.L.M. and his S.J.D. from Harvard Law School. This event examined the role of the International Court of Justice in the enforcement of human rights law. Focusing on the Court’s unprecedented 8-to-7 ruling in favor of Georgia, Akhavan discussed the implications of such a deep division within the court for the international community’s ability to hold powerful states accountable for their human rights violations. Andrew Lowenstein of the Boston law firm Foley Hoag, Akhavan’s co-counsel on the case, was also featured at the event.
Can Democracy Survive Prolonged Occupation and War on Terror?
The panelists for this event included: Adv. Michael Sfard, Legal Counsel, Yesh Din (Volunteers for Human Rights); Adv. Sari Bashi, Director, Gisha (Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement); Adv. Limor Yehuda, Director of Occupied Territories Program (Association for Civil Rights in Israel); and Dr. Amir Paz-Fuchs, Board Member, Bimkom (Planners for Planning Rights). The aim of this event was to offer more exposure and information of the various types of litigation and cases occurring in the Occupied Territories, and to capture the political and legal context in the Middle East and U.S. This panel was moderated by Global Advocacy Fellow and Instructor at the Human Rights Program, Ahmad Amara, and was cosponsored by the Middle East Initiative at the Kennedy School of Government.
Testing Transitional Justice
This event featured former HRP Visiting Fellow Pierre Hazan, who spoke about the role of transitional justice in times of war. Hazan is the author of numerous books and articles on the subject of transitional justice, including Judge War, Judge History and Justice in a Time of War. Hazan is a former Fellow with the U.S. Institute of Peace, and served as a UN correspondent for numerous media outlets. He is also a founding member of the International Film Festival on Human Rights in Geneva.
Milosevic, Taylor and al-Bashir: Is Justice Possible for Chiefs of State?
This event featured Stephen Rapp, prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. In December 2006, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Stephen J. Rapp as the third Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. From 1993 to 2001, Rapp was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. In 2005, he became the Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where he assisted Chief Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow in investigating violations of international criminal law in Rwanda during 1994. Rapp spoke about whether it is possible to prosecute heads of state such as Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia. This event was moderated by Harvard Law School Professor Alex Whiting.
Dialogical Justice and the Protection of Social Rights
This event featured Roberto Gargarella, Tinker Visiting Professor at Columbia University for Fall 2008 at the Institute of Latin American Studies and Professor of Constitutional Theory and the Philosophy of Law at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At this event, he spoke about the role of the courts in a democratic society. Holder of a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Chicago, Professor Gargarella’s background and interest lies equally in political theory. He has recently published two books in contemporary political philosophy in Spain and is currently working on a project on Latin American constitutionalism.
The Intent to Destroy in Whole or in Part: Legal Concepts of Genocide from the ICTY, ICTR and the Bosnian ICJ-Genocide Case
This event featured Phon van den Biesen, who since 1993 has been Deputy Agent for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the International Court of Justice in the Hague in Bosnia’s genocide-case against Yugoslavia. During this event, van den Biesen addressed the concept of genocide, and its varying definitions, through the lens of the International Criminal Tribunal in Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the Bosnian ICJ-Genocide Case.
The Right to Health: Lessons from HIV/AIDS
This event featured Anand Grover, the new UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. Grover is an internationally recognized Indian lawyer who has worked on health-related rights with a wide range of population groups including slum dwellers, people living with HIV, cancer patients and mentally challenged individuals. He is the HIV-AIDS Project Director of the Lawyers Collective in India. At this event, he spoke on how the experience of HIV/AIDS cases is applicable to the right to the health discourse. He successfully litigated the first HIV-related case in the Indian courts. This event was moderated by Sharanjeet Parmar, a clinical instructor and Lecturer on Law at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School.
Lawyering in the War on Terror
In December 2002, Alberto Mora, recently retired General Counsel of the U.S. Navy, was made aware by the Naval Investigations Unit of the unlawful abuse of detainees in the Guantanamo Bay Prison. For the next three years, Mora vigorously pressed the Bush Administration to prevent military and civilian leaders from codifying policies that could implicitly and explicitly sanction the maltreatment of Guantanamo detainees as part of the War on Terror. In this event, Mora spoke of the broader damage that could be caused by allowing cruelty as a weapon of war into the U.S. legal system. This event was moderated by Harvard Law School Professor Alex Whiting.
Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by the United States
Two staff members of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) discussed their report “Broken Laws, Broken Lies,” an in-depth evaluation into deliberate human rights violations by the U.S of political detainees. The event featured Farnoosh Hashemian, lead author for the report and research associate at PHR, and Nathaniel Raymond, a senior communications strategist at PHR. The pair presented the results of their research, which included deliberate violations of prisoners’ rights and discussed the implications of their findings.
Guantánamo and the First 100 Days: The Way Forward
Emi MacLean has worked at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) with the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative (GGJI) since June 2006. There, she works on issues related to Guantánamo and other forms of executive detention, including secret prisons and transfers-to-torture. At this event, MacLean focused on providing a legal framework to talk about the efforts to move toward the closure of Guantánamo and to challenge some of the forms of executive detention that the U.S. uses as part of the War on Terror. MacLean discussed cases that have involved wrongly detained Guantánamo prisoners, and the power the cases hold over the fates of these prisoners.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia and the U.S. War on Terrorism
Sponsored by HLS Peace and the Human Rights Program, this event featured Nir Rosen, a journalist and fellow with the NYU Center on Law & Security. During this event, Rosen weaved together the role that several Middle Eastern, Asian and African countries play in the U.S. War on Terrorism. Rosen is most recently the author of The Triumph of the Martyrs: A Reporter’s Journey into Occupied Iraq (2005), and he has spent more than three years working in Occupied Iraq. Rosen has also worked in Somalia, the Congo, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon, where he now lives.
The War on Terror and Human Rights Law in the U.K.
Former Kennedy scholar Shaheed Fatima is currently a barrister at Blackstone Chambers. Fatima has served as council to many post-9/11 cases, both before the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. In 2007, she was part of the team that acted for the family of Baha Mousa, who died custody in Basra while under British captivity – in the landmark House of Lords case R (Al Skeini and others) v Secretary of State for Defence. At this event, Fatima addressed themes in human rights cases that have emerged as a result of the UK’s presence in Iraq and the UK’s war on terror. These included how executive actions that push the outer limits of human rights should be analyzed, and how to balance the competing norms of national security and human rights.
The Iraq History Project: Personal Narratives on Political Violence Before and After the U.S. Invasion
This event featured Etelle Higonnet, Analysis Director of the Iraq History Project. Higonnet has worked for UNICEF and other human rights NGOs and has also served under two war crime tribunals. At this event, Higonnet discussed her current work, the Iraq History Project, a large scale human rights documentation initiative that has taken close to 10,000 testimonies about human rights violations in Iraq.
International Criminal Justice: Does it Work?
Often regarded as the leading scholar in international humanitarian law, Judge Theodor Meron, the Charles L. Denison Professor of Law at NYU and Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, spoke at this event and addressed the question: “Does international criminal justice work?” Judge Meron outlined the history of international criminal courts and discussed the ways in which international criminal law worked efficiently, and ways in which the tribunal system needed improvement.
Litigating the Right to Health
This event featured Siri Gloppen, an associate professor at the University of Bergen and a Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute. Gloppen’s research focuses on rights, democracy and development in Africa. At this event, Gloppen presented research on access to courts in developing countries, particularly Latin America and Africa. She presented court cases that were brought forth in these regions and that concerned the health system and right to health in developing countries to investigate whether litigation can help improve access to healthcare.
Out of Place: The Bedouins of the Negev Under Israeli Law
This event featured Dr. Alexandre Kedar, a faculty member of the Law School at Haifa University whose research focus is on legal geography, legal history, and land regimes in settler societies and in Israel. Dr. Kedar is the founding editor of the Haifa Law Review and has served as editor-in-chief of the magazine. He is also active over distributive justice in Israeli land. At this event, Dr. Kedar discussed the issue of land disputes between the state of Israel and the Negev Bedouin as well as access to state land for larger use in Israel.
Health and Human Rights: Creating an Open Forum to Advance Global Health and Social Justice
This panel event celebrated the launch of the online journal Health and Human Rights. Speakers and panelists included Drs. Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim; Philip Alston (NYU Law School); Agnes Binagwaho (Rwanda National AIDS Control Commission); and Gavin Yamey (PLoS Medicine).
For a list of events from Academic Year 2007-2008, click here.
For a list of events from Academic Year 2006-2007, click here.