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April 08, 2019

ABA Human Rights Summit

The American Bar Association Center for Human Rights convened an ABA Human Rights Summit on April 5 in Washington, DC, to survey the ABA’s various human rights-related activities and explore the legal profession’s (and thus the ABA’s) unique potential to advance human rights globally.  The welcomed more than 40 participants from across the and interested external organizations for a full-day’s discussion of relevant topics.  The ABA Media Relations Office covered the and posted a brief summary to the ABANow website:

Successful Human Rights Lays Foundation for Future Work

As distilled at the Summit, the ABA’s unique human rights potential was identified as including the following influential roles, among others:

  • A respected convener to create a constructive “neutral space” for competing human rights interests;
  • A legitimizer of human rights law as law to be observed and respected, taking such advocacy “to a whole new level,” including in the ; and
  • A dynamic bridge between policy or project efforts that otherwise may tend to be ‘siloed’ by institutional or other constraints.


The Center’s Executive Board, at its business meeting following the Summit, unanimously approved specific recommendations made at the close of the Summit by those in attendance.  In particular, the Center will make immediate efforts to establish regular communication and coordination among and between ABA entities that address human rights issues.  These efforts include:

  • Revamping the Center’s website to highlight and link to participating human rights entities, under appropriate subject headings, for ease of reference by website visitors;
  • Establishing a listserv among participating human rights entities to facilitate regular communication about their respective activities, stimulate ideas, and maximize resources;
  • Establishing, by agreement among interested ABA human rights entities, a method by which the ABA entities can better coordinate and support each other’s efforts; and
  • Producing an electronic newsletter, to be disseminated regularly and widely within the ABA and beyond, providing in-depth reports on cutting-edge human rights issues and the collective efforts of the and its partners in the human rights community to address them.    


The Center’s Board also appointed a planning committee to begin now the planning process for convening the second ABA Human Rights Summit next year.  ABA Human Rights Summit II will build on the foundation put in place at Summit I and will focus on creative approaches to realizing the legal profession’s unique potential to promote and protect the human dignity of all people.