On November 15, five NYU School of Law alumnae discussed their work in international human rights in the Law Alumni Association Annual Fall Lecture. "Sharpening the Cutting Edge: NYU Law Alumni at the Forefront of Human Rights Scholarship, Lawyering, and Advocacy," moderated by Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law Ryan Goodman, was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ).

The first two speakers, Taina Bien-Aime '91, executive director of Equality Now, and Widney Brown '94, senior director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International, discussed their work with human rights organizations. “Four billion people—approximately 60 percent of the world’s population–have no access to justice,” said Brown, citing the United Nations Development Programme's Initiative on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. “As a human rights lawyer, it’s a devastating statement.” Brown discussed the challenge of holding international corporations, especially those in extractive industries, accountable for human rights injustices. Corporations in North America and Western Europe, Brown said, are racing for resources in the southern hemisphere, in countries with weak governance where the corporations are not always held accountable for misdoings like oil spills or corruption. Brown closed with a challenge to the students in the audience: “Let us make a pledge and challenge ourselves to make justice a reality to everybody, no matter where you’re born in the world.”

Carole Corcoran '83, who is general counsel and director of special projects at International Crisis Group (ICG), shifted the focus to conflict prevention and extolled the value of pro bono work. Corcoran, who began her career in corporate, securities, and banking law, moved to ICG after years of pro bono work.

Jayne Huckerby (LL.M. '04) and Margaret Satterthwaite '99, who co-teach the Global Justice Clinic, turned the conversation to human rights scholarship. The two discussed their human rights work with CHRGJ. Huckerby, a CHRGJ research director, delved into the human rights projects run by CHRGJ, including the Center’s Project on Gender, National Security, and Counter-terrorism, where Huckerby has focused on how counter-terrorism has affected women and girls around the world. Satterthwaite, a faculty director at the center, discussed the center’s focus on both hands-on and academic work. “Our most direct and lasting impact comes through training the next generation of human rights lawyers,” Satterthwaite said. “Our graduates have taken up positions at leading human rights organizations, in international organizations, and very crucially as well, they have developed extensive pro bono practices within the private sector.”

Watch the full discussion (1 hr 51 min):

Posted November 22, 2010