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human rights

human rights, social change

The Paris attacks and a call for more empathy

This weekend, I have spent a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeed, reading about and mourning the horror of the terror attacks in Paris that killed over 120.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families and loved ones, and the French people.  I am deeply saddened and stand in solidarity with France in this moment. And yet, in the depth of my heart, I admit that I have found myself thinking:  why has the world paid so much attention to attacks on lives lost in Paris, but so little to lives lost elsewhere in recent months and even…

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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, public interest law, women's rights

The role of access to justice in combating gender violence

In the worldwide movement to end domestic and gender-based violence, most efforts to combat violence against women and girls fall into two spheres: so-called prevention and response — similar to interventions in other realms, such as the healthcare field. ‘Prevention’ efforts approach gender violence with the idea that breaking down systems of patriarchy and oppression is the ultimate goal, and the root cause of gender violence. If we can disrupt the patriarchal order, we can begin to more effectively reduce and end gender violence. Many prevention efforts seek to change social and cultural norms as an attempt to reduce gender inequity. By changing…

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human rights, international justice, legal empowerment, public interest law, women's rights

Online Symposium on Justice and Customary Law

Hello friends! Yet another (shameless?) plug: I recently organized an Online Symposium for the Harvard Human Rights Journal on access to justice, particularly via customary and informal systems, and we received a range of fascinating submissions from scholars and practitioners around the world. Read more below and check out these illuminating articles: From the Informal to the Formal: Examining Access to Justice and Customary Justice Mechanisms  The HHRJ Online Symposium this year centers on issues of access to justice to the poor around the world, with a particular focus on examining the challenges that exist within informal, customary and traditional mechanisms of dispute resolution. In many…

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criminal justice, human rights, international justice, public interest law, social change, women's rights

Kimberley Motley: on rule of law in Afghanistan

Here’s quite a fascinating TED talk by Kimberley Motley,who I know has been somewhat of a controversial figure in Afghanistan in the past. She has some interesting thoughts on what it’s like to be a lawyer, representing clients and promoting rule of law in fragile states such as Afghanistan. She represents an interesting array of cases, including gender-based violence and human rights cases in Afghanistan. Her main thrust in this talk, which I have always agreed with  – is that in many countries, there are already many laws on the books that could protect and promote human rights. Even within Shari’a law, there…

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human rights, social change

Article 25: Global Day of Action for the Right to Health

This Saturday, Article 25 – a new global movement of people who believe health is a human right – will be launching the first-ever Global Day of Action for the Right to Health. This is incredibly exciting, as health activists and everyday people in 58 countries will be coming together to launch a rising global, grassroots movement to combat global health inequity. The Day of Action is being coordinated by Article 25, a nonprofit advocacy group working with more than 50 partners to build a global movement for the right to health. On Saturday, public health and social justice activists will…

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human rights, international justice, public interest law, social change

Can courts, lawyers & activists make a difference?

A great post on OpenDemocracy recently by Chris Jochnick discussed human rights tools of litigation, and how the law can be harnessed to address some of the root causes of poverty. I especially liked the following questions he asks at the end, which I think are absolutely spot on: Can resources be mobilized at scale to support human rights work that directly confronts poverty, inequities and vested interests? The longstanding bias of human rights funders against ESR continues to limit this work. Can lawyers and litigation be incorporated into grassroots struggles without co-opting them? The legal training, the proximity to power,…

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human rights, legal empowerment, women's rights

Women’s rights, legislation & the rule of law

Fantastic post on women’s rights and human rights by Keshet Bachan. This portion sticks out to me as especially key: There is no doubt legislation is an important first step in promoting human rights. However, most countries don’t have strong democratic traditions that uphold the rule of law, meaning legislation remains formal and fails to become substantive. And when legislation encounters social norms and traditions that contradict it, most of the time it will come out on the losing end. Without strong law enforcement forces and functioning judicial systems, with high levels of illiteracy and in many cases parallel legal…

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human rights, international justice

International law and civilian deaths in Gaza

The crisis in #Gaza is truly heartbreaking; stories of children in Gaza who have been killed in the conflict, and the pictures of dead civilians are truly heart rendering. Regardless of your views on this conflict, the fact that innocent civilians are dying should give you reason to pause. Although this is a few days late, I wanted to point out some of the arguments being used to justify civilian deaths in Gaza — and why Israel’s actions still cannot be justified under international humanitarian law. First of all, the news media and Israel’s government has essentially been blaming Gazan…

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human rights, women's rights

Shattering assumptions

This summer, I have spent the bulk of my time working on issues of gender, women’s rights, and access to justice.  The first half of my summer focused on providing direct legal services to survivors of domestic violence in family and immigration law matters.  The second half — which I am immersed in at the moment — involves policy research on issues of sexual assault across the U.S. In doing this work, I’ve often thought back to some of the assumptions I myself had about gender – and which were broken down – in particular through a course I took this past…

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human rights

I Do Not Wish For You To See Gaza As Anything But a Rose

My heart is breaking for Gaza; amidst all the destruction and pain, this Gaza-based writer seems to capture this well through her words. All the writing rituals escaped. I possess nothing except a lead pencil and a piece of white paper, even though I am wary of the word lead. I want a pencil of life because life is now so dear in Gaza, and there were so many who insisted on plucking it like a flower whose infanticide they hastened. Especially those small flowers because they are beautiful; the hands snatch them and do not let them live. Our…

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