Below are a few representations of the work that our students are able to perform thanks to the availability of the Public Interest Summer Funding Grants.
David Deng ’10, Southern Sudan Land Commission and Associates for Rural Development, Juba, Sudan
I spent the summer of 2009 at the Southern Sudan Land Commission and Associates for Rural Development (ARD), Inc. The Land Commission is an independent commission set up by Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Land Commission’s mandate is still somewhat in flux, but it is currently working with ARD on Southern Sudan’s first land policy. Since it was founded in 1977, ARD has led more than 600 projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean. These projects have helped countries respond to a range of environmental, social, and institutional challenges.
While there, I researched and wrote a report for the Land Commission and ARD/USAID on land allocation processes in and around Juba, the capital city of Southern Sudan. The project included over fifty interviews with representatives from the various branches of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), Central Equatoria State (CES), Juba County and local government, chiefs and traditional leaders, community residents, civil society organizations (CSOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), judges and lawyers, foreign and domestic investors, and international and domestic aid and development organizations. Through my interviews, I was able to meet a significant number of high level leaders in the Government of Southern Sudan.
I had a great experience over the summer, and especially enjoyed interviewing all these folks and hearing their diverse views on the hot button issues in Juba. The experience I gained in field research and report writing for USAID will also be very useful to me in the future. I am going to write a directed research paper that will incorporate some of my findings over the summer, focusing on forced evictions (there have been extensive demolitions and forced evictions going on in Juba since February 2008) or land grabbing.
Julia Sheketoff ’10, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, New York, New York
During the summer of 2009, I worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). LDF is America’s legal counsel on issues of race. Through advocacy and litigation, LDF pursues racial justice to move our nation toward a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. It focuses on issues of education, voter protection, economic justice and criminal justice.
As an intern, I conducted research in support of an amicus brief LDF submitted to the Supreme Court in the Sullivan and Graham juvenile-without-parole cases. Since our brief involved an empirical discussion of how juveniles are less able to adjudicatory system than adults, I spent a lot of time looking at empirical studies in this area. I also looked for case law that discussed why juveniles are different than adults, why the juvenile justice system is different than the adult criminal justice system, etc. I later worked on an administrative project for a case that has not yet been filed. Finally, I spent time researching and writing a memorandum regarding whether it is constitutional to rescind a plea bargain for a client who agreed to plea guilty to capital murder in exchange for a life sentence.
Daniel Evans ’11, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission – Eastern Region, Division of Enforcement, New York, New York
This past summer, I worked at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Congress created the CFTC in 1974 as an independent agency with the mandate to regulate commodity futures and option markets in the United States. The CFTC is the federal regulator for the commodities and futures markets, analogous to the role filled by the SEC in relation to the securities markets. Its mission is to protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices related to the sale of commodity and financial futures and options, and to foster open, competitive, and financially sound futures and option markets.
During my internship, I performed legal research and drafted motions and memoranda in support of futures, derivatives, and options-related fraud and manipulation prosecutions. I worked on a $30M forex Ponzi-scheme that involved interviewing unsophisticated investors who had fallen prey to a confidence scam as well as helped build an economic-analysis driven case against a $5B hedge fund natural gas. There was also some policy analysis work. I analyzed trading patterns and market performance in study of the legal implications of emerging financial instruments.
Through my internship, I have gained a much greater insight into the logistics of trading, the regulatory process, and the relationship between regulators and private actors.
Rebecca Talbott ’10, Center for Reproductive Rights – International Legal Program, New York, New York
I spent the summer of 2008 at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). CRR uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill. Towards this goal, CCR engages in international, regional, and national-level advocacy, policy analysis, legal research, public education, and international litigation with the goal of advancing women’s equality throughout the world and ensuring that all women have access to a full range of freely chosen reproductive health services. CCR is actively involved with advocacy efforts in the regions of Africa, Asia, East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
I drafted a shadow letter to the Human Rights Committee for its periodic review of Nicaragua regarding its total abortion prohibition, and performed legal research to write a memo comparing abortion laws in every Council of Europe member state (especially comparing the life/health exceptions in these laws) for an amicus brief submitted to European Court of Human Rights. I also summarized major South African cases on unauthorized HIV disclosure. Finally, I researched and summarized recent legislation on women’s health for a United Nations Population Fund newsletter.
It was very thrilling to be at CCR. My shadow letter was sent to the UN Human Rights Committee in essentially the same form in which I submitted it, and my research memo evolved into the amicus brief to the European Court of Human Rights based solely on my research and analysis. At one point in the summer, all of the interns got UN passes and were allowed to sit in on reporting sessions conducted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. There’s nothing like that for learning how human rights norms function and evolve.
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