August 17, 2013

Rights Now

Rights Now is a quarterly publication of the ABA Center for Human Rights, providing analysis of issues in human rights law and regular updates on current news.

CHR Celebrates International Criminal Justice Day

This month the world celebrates International Criminal Justice Day (July 17) to commemorate the adoption of the Rome Statute, which was adopted fourteen years ago and later established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002. The ABA Center for Human Rights joins the international community in acknowledging the ICC and other international criminal tribunals for their efforts to end impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In support of these efforts, the Center’s ICC Project embodies the ABA’s long-standing and steadfast support of the ICC and of increased cooperation between the United States and the Court. More information about the Center’s ICC Project is available on the ABA-ICC Project website. The Center invites your participation in and support of the ICC Project.

ABA AIDS Committee to Host National Conference

The ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee will host a conference on HIV/AIDS Law and Practice: Rights Protection through Representation, on July 21, 2012, in Washington, DC, immediately preceding the International AIDS Conference there. For more information and to register for the conference, visit the conference website.

CHR Chair Addresses Chinese Law Students

CHR Chair Michael Greco visited Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) from June 5 to 9 to discuss international human rights law. Greco plans to teach a course on that subject at STL in fall 2012.

Chancellor and Founding Dean, Jeffrey Lehman, Associate Dean Stephen Yandle, and Assistant Dean XU Hua met with Greco and introduced him to STL. During his visit, Greco attended classes, communicated with students, attended the annual moot court competition, and had meals with faculty and staff to a get deeper understanding of the school’s curricula and culture. He also gave a lecture titled, “Are Lawyers Really Necessary?”, which also attracted students from Tsinghua University Graduate School in Shenzhen and Harbin Institute of Technology Shenzhen Graduate School as well. During the question-and-answer period after the lecture, Greco shared his views regarding a career in human rights law.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Statement On Violence In Syria

WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today expressed its grave concern for the safety and security of civilians in Syria, and warned of the potential for genocidal acts if nations do not take prompt actions to uphold their responsibility to protect groups and individuals targeted by the Syrian regime.

There is abundant evidence that crimes against humanity are being committed by the Syrian government and allied militias. The United Nations has estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed, though unofficial estimates put the number at more than 14,000. Tens of thousands of additional civilians have been arbitrarily and illegally detained, and many of them are feared dead. Some 100,000 people have fled the country, and as many as 300,000 may be displaced within Syria. A new report this week accuses the government of using young children as human shields.

The reported massacres of civilians in the past two weeks have made clear the increasing sectarian nature of the violence. Neighborhoods and villages are being targeted solely on the basis of religious affiliation. Some, including a senior UN official, have characterized the situation as civil war, and the deteriorating situation raises the risk of genocidal acts.

Unless the international community steps up its efforts to alter the trajectory of the violence, tens of thousands or more civilians are at risk of group targeted violence, including members of Syria’s ethnic and religious populations—Sunni Muslims, Druze, Christians, Kurds, and Alawites, among others.

“We have learned from the Holocaust and other cases the warning signs of genocide, and we see some of those signs in Syria today,” said Tom Bernstein, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. “While there is not an easy or obvious route to end the conflict, it is vital that the international community act before it is too late to avoid a greater humanitarian and moral catastrophe. Once again we must not fail to act because the task seemed too great and the results unsure.”

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit

Also, see ABA’s June 8 statement regarding Syria.

ABA Files Amicus Brief in Kiobel Case

The ABA has filed a Center-sponsored amicus brief in Kiobel, et al. v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, in support of petitioners, addressing “whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States?” The ABA argues that restricting the ATS to violations that occur within the territory of the United States (or on the high seas) would be inconsistent with this nation’s historic commitment to promoting accountability for human rights violations and encouraging all nations to develop effective remedies for violations. Read brief.

CHR Addresses Lawyers’ Role in Human Rights Defense

On May 18, CHR Chair Michael S. Greco addressed “The Role of Lawyers in Defending Human Rights,” at a conference on “The International Human Rights Framework: Opportunities for Attorneys and Advocates,” hosted by the International Justice Resource Center in Boston, Mass. “All too often,” Greco emphasized, “lawyers who take up the cause of human rights are themselves subject to harassment and persecution by governments and non-state actors.” 

CHR Co-Sponsors ICC Conference with Stanford Law

On May 11, the ABA Center for Human Rights and the American Society of International Law co-sponsored a conference entitled, “The ICC Turns Ten: Reviewing the Past, Assessing the Future,” at Stanford Law School, which was the primary conference sponsor and organizer. The conference used the tenth anniversary of the International Criminal Court’s founding to discuss the Court’s work so far — its impact, successes, and challenges — and to consider what the Court can expect in the next decade, including in its relations with the United States. In his remarks at the conference, CHR Chair Michael S. Greco announced the “soft launch” of the Center’s new ICC Project, which seeks to strengthen, broaden, and regularize US-ICC relations consistent with longstanding ABA policy in support of the Court.  The project will launch formally in fall 2012.  For more information, visit the ICC Project website.

Obama Administration Establishes Atrocity Prevention Board

On April 23, President Obama announced the establishment of an inter-agency Atrocity Prevention Board (APB).   Comprised of senior government officials across nearly a dozen government agencies, the APB will meet regularly to help identify and address atrocity threats — specifically, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  It will also help manage the governmental bureaucracy — and recommend any necessary changes — to ensure a more effective and cohesive response.  Creation of such a board was among the recommendations issued by the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-founded by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the American Academy of Diplomacy, in its December 2008 report, Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers.  The Center for Human Rights sponsored ABA policy, adopted in August 2009, endorsing the task force recommendations, and it continues to work with the Holocaust Museum and other collaborators to effectuate the recommendations.  

Center Hosts ABA Human Rights Summit II

On April 13 the ABA Center for Human Rights hosted ABA Human Rights Summit II: An Agenda for the Legal Profession, in Washington, DC, at the offices of Jones Day law firm, which generously donated its beautiful meeting space located at the foot of Capitol Hill.

Summit II gathered the Association’s various entities that do human rights-related work, law school-based human rights programs, and representatives of non-governmental organizations, including Human Rights First, the American Society of International Law, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the World Justice Project, the Constitution Project, Shift, the Polaris Project, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among others.

In addition to surveying the current and prospective human rights activities of each entity and the potential for mutual assistance and collaboration, Summit II welcomed Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, who discussed the State Department’s key areas of human rights concern.

Participants also examined specific “Issues in Focus”: John Sherman, General Counsel of Shift, which helps governments, businesses and their stakeholders put the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into practice, led discussion of the legal profession’s role in developing and promoting the Guiding Principles; Michael Abramowitz, Director of the Committee on Conscience, which conducts the genocide prevention efforts of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, led discussion of recent developments in Atrocity Prevention and Accountability, including establishment of an “atrocity prevention board”  by the Obama Administration; Mary Ellison, Director of Policy for Polaris Project, a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking, led discussion of that topic, including current collaboration with the Center and other ABA entities; and Rebecca Hamilton, a journalist at Reuters and author of Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide, discussed “Reporting on Protecting Human Rights.”

Building on the momentum begun with the first summit in April 2011, Summit II strengthened community bonds among key elements of the legal profession and its collaborators in the cause of protecting and promoting human rights.  ABA Human Rights Summit III will take place in spring 2013.



CHR Applauds First ICC Verdict

In 1978, the American Bar Association (ABA) called for the establishment of a permanent international criminal tribunal to eliminate impunity for the world’s worst crimes — genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. 

During the ensuing thirty-four years the ABA has steadfastly supported the founding and growth of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  The issuance by the ICC of its first verdict, in the child soldier case of Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, is an historic and seminal moment in international criminal justice.  

The ABA Center for Human Rights applauds the ICC in reaching this milestone and reaffirms its support for the Court’s ongoing work.

Justice Defenders Program Seeks Pro Bono Participants

The Center’s Justice Defenders (JD) Program seeks pro bono legal assistance on several of its ongoing international human rights cases. By way of background, the JD Program provides pro bono legal assistance to human rights advocates who are the subject of retaliation. Specifically, the Program advises and supports embattled human rights advocates by connecting pro bono lawyers from around the world who have the requisite and needed expertise with local counsel of record. The Program also observes and raises public awareness of trials and provides analysis of sensitive issues by sending pro bono lawyers to trials of human rights defenders to ensure compliance with international due process and fair trial standards.

With the assistance of CHR staff, the JD Program seeks pro bono lawyers with particular interest in working on impact litigation in the European Court of Human Rights and Turkish-language human rights cases. To inquire about these cases or the JD Program generally, please contact the Center’s Chief Counsel, Brittany Benowitz, at or (202) 662-1743; or Senior Counsel, Kip Hale, at or (202) 662-1584.

CHR Mourns Passing of John Payton

All of us at the ABA Center for Human Rights mourn the untimely passing of John Payton. John's death is a deep loss to the legal profession, to those whose rights he championed, to those for whom he was a mentor and shining role model, and to those who enjoyed his friendship. He was a stalwart defender of justice for all before and during his tenure as President and Director-Counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and always warm, caring and gregarious. We extend our profound sympathies to John's wife and fellow human rights advocate, Gay McDougall, a member of the Center's Advisory Council, and to the members of their family and friends. John's passion for fairness, his example and the lessons he taught us will live on.

ABA Renews Call to Refer Syria to ICC

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 21, 2012 – The American Bar Association again urges the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court for investigation, and to meet its responsibility to protect thousands of unarmed Syrian protesters, peaceably exercising their human rights, from deadly violence by the Syrian regime.  These increasing cruelties may constitute crimes against humanity under international law.  If so, a just rule of law demands that President Assad and his agents be held to answer for them.

Barbara Arnwine Receives Gruber Justice Prize

Barbara Arnwine, a member of CHR’s Advisory Council, is a recipient of the 2011 Justice Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.  Arnwine became executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in 1989.  She led the Committee’s efforts to secure Congressional passage of what became the Civil Rights Act of 1991.  Following the presidential election of 2000, she led the nationwide, nonpartisan Election Protection Program, which, by 2008, was one of the largest pro bono programs in the U.S.  She helped ensure that over 250,000 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina would not be evicted from hotels and shelters until alternative housing had been found.  She has also fought for human rights internationally – on behalf of Haitian refugees in investigating conditions at Guantanamo Bay and as the leader of a delegation to the UN’s 1995 Decade of Women Conference and NGO Forum in Beijing.  More information about the award is available here.

AU Launches Local Human Rights Lawyering Project

American University Washington College of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law has selected Maryland Legal Aid and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid as founding Project Partners for its new Local Human Rights Lawyering Project. With funding from the Ford Foundation, the project will train, coach and mentor attorneys from both organizations to help them integrate human rights arguments and strategies into their daily work.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with two highly respected and creative legal aid organizations with such a deep dedication to human rights,” said Hadar Harris, the Center’s executive director. “The Local Human Rights Lawyering Project is the first of its kind to work directly with legal aid attorneys to help them incorporate human rights arguments, strategies and methodologies into their work. At a time when legal aid agencies are under siege with significant budget cuts—and growing needs—this project will expand the tool box for legal aid attorneys to make compelling human rights-related arguments in U.S. courts.” 

For more information, visit the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project website.

ABA Reaching New Heights in Human Rights Advocacy

It is my honor as Chair of the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights to welcome you to this inaugural edition of Rights Now, the Center's quarterly update on human rights-related activities of the Center, the ABA and the legal profession. As you will note in the sidebar, Rights Now also features an innovative "Human Rights Hub" that links to the websites of other human rights-related ABA entities and partner organizations. I encourage you to "click round" and learn about the important work each is doing—work that is so important to securing and advancing the human dignity all people share in equal measure.

As President of the ABA in 2005-2006 I was privileged to address people and organizations throughout the world regarding the ABA’s commitment to advance human rights and a just rule of law.  From personal experience I know the impact that the ABA, as the global representative of the legal profession in the United States, can have in promoting these elemental notions of justice and freedom.  Now, as Chair of the Center, I can tell you that the ABA, with the Center’s efforts, has never been in a better position to broaden and deepen that impact.    

The Center is the ABA’s focal-point entity for international human rights concerns, acting as a catalyst and facilitator of the ABA’s human rights-related activities.  At the core of the Center's mission is the conviction that the legal profession has a unique duty and ability to strengthen the universal human rights principles that are the heart and soul of a just rule of law.  Among its numerous ongoing projects, the Center's newly established "Justice Defenders" program, which deploys pro bono expert lawyers world-wide to assist in protecting courageous advocates struggling to advance human rights from governmental persecution, is perhaps the clearest manifestation of this conviction.  The Center also is engaged in such critical issues as mass atrocity prevention; combating modern slavery (human trafficking); health and human rights; the role of the private sector in respecting human rights; and human rights education.  In each of these areas and others, the ABA's engagement can be pivotal.

In April 2011 the Center convened all interested ABA entities (including those featured in the Human Rights Hub) and external human rights organizations for a first-ever, day-long ABA Human Rights Summit, to survey the Association's human rights activities and assess areas of potential collaboration and mutual advancement.  The Summit affirmed the special role of the legal profession in human rights advocacy and galvanized those entities’ collective determination to advance human rights in the US and abroad.  The Center will convene Summit II in April 2012 in Washington, DC, to examine progress achieved since Summit I and explore a shared human rights advocacy agenda for the legal profession.

The Center for Human Rights looks forward to reporting on these and other exciting developments through Rights Now.  We welcome your participation in the work of the Center.

ABA Calls for End to Human Rights Violations in Syria

On Nov. 23, 2011, the American Bar Association called for an end to the gross violations of human rights in Syria and urged the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

Since March 2011, peaceful demonstrators in Syria have been victims of a brutal backlash from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.  The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that in the past eight months more than 3,500 people — including scores of children — have been detained, tortured, and/or killed by Syria’s security forces.

The Security Council recently invoked its ICC referral power with respect to similar atrocities committed in and Sudan and Libya.  To do so in this case would be consistent with the Security Council’s impartial application of international law. Read the full release.

CHR to Launch ICC Project

The American Bar Association has long supported the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its mission of ending impunity for the world’s worst crimes.  ABA policy calls for U.S. accession to the Rome Statute, which established the Court; until then, the ABA has urged cooperative U.S. engagement with the Court. 

To these ends, the Center for Human Rights has established a new ICC Project to enhance understanding and acceptance of the ICC’s vital role in securing a just rule of law for all people.  At full strength, the project will:

Provide Practitioner Training by convening conferences and workshops for American and international criminal practitioners.  The project also will train ICC staff and sponsor educational visits by federal, state, and local criminal litigators, investigators and administrators to the ICC to “shadow” their ICC counterparts and learn about ICC practices and procedures.

Foster Engagement among American and ICC officials by establishing venues for ongoing dialogue among ICC officials, policymakers, and stakeholders.  One such forum, for example, will convene American proponents and opponents of the ICC to discuss U.S. policy toward the Court and ICC-related “current events”; another will compare and contrast features of American and international criminal prosecutions, such as pre-trial detention, examination of witnesses, and appellate procedures.  The project also will facilitate meetings between ICC and U.S. officials on a regular basis, fostering high-level relationships and building of trust.

Advocate before the U.S. Legislative and Executive Branches by developing and implementing (with the ABA Governmental Affairs Office) advocacy strategies and opportunities, including an “ICC Lobby Day” and perhaps an “ICC Caucus” within Congress, and deploying ABA members and other elements of the legal profession to leverage their influence in the ICC’s behalf toward greater U.S. engagement with the Court.

The ICC Project will be guided by an advisory committee comprised of top-level ABA leaders and pre-eminent figures in international law and advocacy.   

The project will be launched formally at an event in spring or summer 2012 that will convene major stakeholders in the U.S.-ICC relationship, including ICC officials, U.S. governmental leaders, foreign dignitaries, and representatives from relevant think tanks, academia and NGOs.

CHR Receives Grant to Support Embattled Lawyers Worldwide

Lawyers historically have been integral to advocating, establishing, and preserving a just rule of law founded on universal human rights principles. 

In countries experiencing that struggle today, the technical and moral support of the broader legal profession can add significant weight and a measure of protection to the brave efforts of individual lawyers risking their professional and personal well-being for freedom, justice, and human dignity.  

Yet, to be truly effective across countries and regions, such support must not be ad hoc but be readily available, reliable, and sustainable over time.

In response to these challenges, the Center for Human Rights has received a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to establish a “Justice Defenders Program.”   The JD Program has two main objectives with related activities:  First, to advise and support embattled legal professionals abroad by connecting pro bono lawyers having requisite expertise with local lawyers to provide advice on international law standards, share best practices, and assist in developing trial strategies.  The lawyers selected for the program by the Center serve as lawyers on cases but as consultants to defense lawyers on the various aspects of trying a case and on the applicability/interpretation of local and international laws.  And second, to observe and raise public awareness of trials and provide analysis of sensitive cases.  The Center for Human Rights selects, at its discretion, cases of significance that have garnered local, regional, or international attention, and/or have the potential of changing the law, for better or worse, within the country.  The program funds pro bono lawyers to observe trials and provide analysis.

The JD program is not strictly an ‘ABA’ undertaking but one of the legal profession globally, utilizing and strengthening organizational relationships, establishing new ones, and lending to struggling lawyers the expertise, contacts, and moral support pivotal to sustaining often arduous human rights advocacy efforts.

For more information, visit the Justice Defenders Program homepage.

CHR Addresses Human Rights and Legal Aid

On Dec. 14-15, 2011, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, CHR Chair Michael S. Greco participated on behalf of the Center’s Justice Defenders Program in an experts meeting on human rights and legal aid in Latin America, organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

The Latin American countries represented at the meeting by public defenders and human rights advocates were Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.  Greco’s remarks focused,  by way of example, on best practices and the standards developed in the United States as determined by experienced practitioners there—including public defenders, private defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, governmental officials, policymakers, law professors, and as compiled by the ABA—that functionally safeguard the human rights of criminal defendants.       

In August 1990, the ABA adopted comprehensive and detailed “Black Letter” Standards that were published with extensive commentary in 1992 as the “ABA Standards for Criminal Justice: Providing Defense Services” (third edition).  The ABA Standards represent a consensus view of all segments of the U.S. criminal justice community about what good, professional practice is and should be in providing public defense services to persons in need.

In February 2002 the ABA adopted “The Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System” as a more concise and practical guide, based on the “Standards,” to delivering public defense services to persons in need.  The Principles articulate the fundamental criteria that are absolutely necessary in designing and operating a legal aid system that provides effective and efficient, high quality, ethical, conflict-free legal representation for criminal defendants unable to afford an attorney.

Taken together, the Standards and Principles reflect the ABA’s view of the “best practices” in the United States, for the use of all justice system personnel, governmental officials and policymakers charged with creating and funding, or improving existing, systems—by which public legal services are delivered in their states.  Often, government officials and policymakers are non-lawyers unfamiliar with the breadth and complexity of material written about criminal defense law and the multitude of national standards concerning the issue of what constitutes quality public legal representation for criminal defendants.  For these individuals, the more concise Principles have proven to be a helpful guide.

Uniform Law Commission to Address Human Trafficking

On Dec. 2 and 3, 2011, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) convened its first observers meeting to examine a uniform anti-trafficking law for nationwide consideration by the states. Last summer the ULC accepted an application submitted jointly by CHR, LexisNexis and others urging a model law be developed to harmonize the disparate legal approaches to combating human trafficking in the United States.

In granting the application, the ULC concluded that a uniform act on human trafficking “can unify and coordinate efforts within a state to combat human trafficking by facilitating data and information sharing between law enforcement, social service agencies, policy makers, and other interested parties.  Doing so will likely increase the effectiveness of existing resources applied to the problem, and decrease frustration and confusion engendered by varied and inconsistent policy and definitional constructs that currently exist.” 

“More importantly,” the ULC emphasized, “a uniform act on human trafficking will allow improved coordination between states, and between state and federal governments, of enforcement, services, and policy decisions. By its nature, human trafficking has no respect for local, state, or national boundaries. Uniform prohibitions, prosecutions, and policies will enhance the overall effort to control and decrease human trafficking activity in all states.”

The ULC is expected to complete its work on the proposed uniform law in summer 2013.

CHR Launches Teaching Human Rights Project

The ABA Center for Human Rights has launched “Teaching Human Rights,” a multi-part project "mainstreaming" human rights instruction at all educational levels.  The project will increase awareness of human rights in general and promote the growth and development of young people committed to human rights.  Delving deeper into human experience and expression, the project, inspired by the late Jerome J. Shestack, a founder and former chair of the Center, takes an interdisciplinary and balanced approach to human rights education with a view to capturing the fundamental principle of human dignity at the heart of human rights law and advocacy.

The first stage of the project surveys model human rights curricula gathered from sources such as Berkeley’s Human Rights Syllabi and the University of Chicago’s Human Rights Curriculum Development Project, and assembles them to help educators more easily incorporate human rights into their educational programs.  Accompanied by a list of recommended readings and research resources, the curricula include region-specific and specialized-topic courses covering subjects such as genocide and mass atrocity, migration, governance, women’s rights, and children’s rights, among others.  The curricula also provide the materials needed to establish a strong background in the foundations of human rights as well as in international law. 

The second part of the project — the Human Perspectives section — focuses on varied media of human expression, such as literature, film, and music, to illustrate the need for human rights education and protection.  The project also publicizes opportunities for practical engagement, such as human rights scholarships and fellowships, so students can gain hands-on experience and learn the day-to-day realities of human rights work while understanding challenges to practical human rights implementation. 

The project is developing three other components that will add greater depth and dimension to human rights education in the classroom and beyond.  The first is an Oral Histories component, which will interview prominent human rights leaders who have advanced human rights in practical ways and have had an important influence on shaping the field.  These interviews will illuminate the evolving nature of human rights challenges and highlight the leadership that has been imperative to the advancement of human rights in recent decades.

The second component, Digital Dialogues, will be an online multi-party video forum in which experts will engage in comprehensive, balanced, and nuanced discussions of contentious issues in human rights law, policy, and advocacy.  Digital Dialogues will expose audiences to the complexity of social issues that often are over-simplified by mainstream media.  A related feature, Realtime Roundtable, will permit immediate responses to pressing issues from a well-rounded panel of experts.   

The third component, Context Matters, will invite experts to compare similar initiatives in distinct settings, e.g., microfinance projects in Bangladesh and in Sierra Leone.  A companion feature will record the views of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders to human rights abuses to foster better understanding of human behavior in complex situations.

All these elements of the Teaching Human Rights Project will nurture sometimes difficult and contentious conversations that are necessary for progress; serve as a dynamic feedback platform for political, economic, social, and environmental developments; build networks of interdisciplinary knowledge to explore the connections between various fields; and provide the intellectual depth, creativity, abstract modeling, and academic foundations indispensable to advancing human rights for all.

The Center for Human Rights thanks Prof. Barry Sullivan, a member of the CHR executive board, and Liat Krawcyk, program associate, for their primary leadership in developing the project.  We welcome feedback about the project via e-mail at

CHR to Host ABA Human Rights Summit II in April 2012

In follow up to its successful ABA Human Rights Summit in April 2011, the Center for Human Rights will host “ABA Human Rights Summit II” on April 13, 2012, in Washington, DC.  The first Summit gathered the ABA’s various human rights entities to survey their activities, consider areas of possible collaboration and promotion, and explore how the legal profession uniquely can advance human rights in the United States and internationally.  Summit II will build on that momentum and consider a common agenda among legal organizations on critical human rights issues.

Zimbabwean Lawyer to Keynote Human Rights Luncheon

Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe delivered the keynote address at the Center’s Human Rights Luncheon on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, La. In her two decades defending domestic journalists, foreign correspondents and victims of human rights violations against Zimbabwe's restrictive government, Mtetwa has been physically attacked and faced threats against her life. Yet she continues to fight for freedom and the ideals of democracy, and champions numerous other causes, including eradicating AIDS and poverty; protecting the rights of women and children; preserving the essential freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and speech; and helping poor farmers wrongfully evicted from their land by the government. Mtetwa discussed her work, and clips of Making the Case: Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law, an upcoming documentary about her career, were shown at the luncheon.

Copyright © 2013, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).