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international justice

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, 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, 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, ICC, international justice

Why I Don’t Support #Kony2012

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you have seen your Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds blow up with reposts of Invisible Children’s (IC) new viral social media campaign, “Kony 2012,” intended to make Joseph Kony, the rebel leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, infamous worldwide — so that the international community can bring pressure to arrest him in order to bring an end to his abductions of child soldiers. After watching the video, I realized how so many young Americans could be moved by Invisible Children’s message again and again, and be truly compelled to take action. IC…

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human rights, international development, international justice, women's rights

Narratives of rape in the DRC: helpful, but perpetuating stereotypes?

Women Under Siege is a fascinating new initiative of the Women’s Media Center that focuses on rape and sexual violence used as tools of control in instances of war, conflict, and genocide throughout the world. The project is spearheaded by Gloria Steinem and hopes to increase our understanding of the causes of mass sexual assaults so that we may begin to work towards the solutions and hopefully, prevention in the future. The new project’s aim is commendable: to demonstrate that rape is a tool of war via public education, and an action plan to push for the interventions to halt…

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criminal justice, human rights, innovation, international development, international justice, women's rights

New mobile gender justice court tries rape case in Congo

My inspiring story of the day (other than, you know, all the protests happening in Bahrain, Wisconsin, etc..) was about an innovative mobile gender justice court prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence and rape in Congo. The court is trying eleven soldiers, responsible for a mass rape on New Year’s Day of dozens of women and girls in the town of Fizi, DRC. The court, run by the Open Society Institute, is charging them with rape as a crime against humanity. Find below, some excerpts from the OSI blog post written by Kelly Askin: I first came to eastern Congo in…

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human rights, ICC, international justice

How Obama Betrayed Sudan: an excellent perspective

I just wanted to plug this great new Foreign Policy article, “How Obama Betrayed Sudan: The former Sudan Envoy on how U.S. government policy could push the country back into civil war.” I took a class at Northwestern, about Sudan and Darfur, with the author – Richard Williamson, our former Sudan Special Envoy. His perspective is incredibly smart and much needed, informed by his years of work on the thorny Sudanese conflict. The article essentially deals with the consequences of the new approach the U.S. government is taking with regards to Khartoum – that of engagement and “carrots” rather than…

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criminal justice, feature friday, human rights, innovation, international justice, public interest law, social change

Feature Friday: FrontlineSMS:Legal

Just this Wednesday, there was a lot of buzz on the Twitterverse about FrontlineSMS:Legal, a new addition to the FrontlineSMS family. According to their website: FrontlineSMS:Legal helps our partners bridge the distance between communities and the legal services they need most, using low-cost mobile tools. FrontlineSMS:Legal develops and implements technologies that improve the delivery, reach, and efficiency of legal services by connecting formal systems with community based dispute resolution mechanisms. Our partners, including government agencies, not-for profit organizations, university law clinics, and other legal institutions, provide critical legal and dispute resolution services to marginalized communities. By bridging these systems, FrontlineSMS:Legal…

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criminal justice, human rights, international justice

Commit war crimes and live in comfort. Steal a chicken and die in prison?

A recent New York Times article describes the world of comfort – and perhaps even luxury – that war criminals are provided with at The Hague, Netherlands. I don’t have a gym, a personal trainer, or a spiritual room in my tiny bedroom. On my (soon to be) non-profit salary, I certainly won’t be able to afford a visit to the Netherlands anytime in the near future. However, former warlords and human rights violators are getting all these amenities and more. Here’s a picture from the article of one of the “detention” cells in the International Criminal Tribunal for the…

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