In response to students' expressed desire for more opportunities to develop practical skills that may improve their chances of obtaining employment in public interest law and human rights work, the Bernstein Institute, Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) jointly organize inter-disciplinary skill-building sessions throughout the academic year.
Previous Skill-Building Sessions Have Included:
Entrepreneurship for Human Rights
Andy Moss, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, led this skill-building session on the basics of entrepreneurship and an overview of the numerous resources NYU offers to help students turn their ideas into reality.
This session was co-sponsored by the NYU Law's Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, the Public Interest Law Center, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and the Social Enterprise and Startup Law Group.
In the age of surveillance, protecting yourself online is more important than ever. Experts from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to free speech and freedom of the press, provided a training that covered the basics on encryption and data security, with strategies on how to be safer and smarter when communicating, sharing and storing your digital information.
This session was co-sponsored by the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, Global Justice Clinic, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and Technology Law and Policy Clinic.
Reaching the public is often crucial for public interest and human rights lawyering. Social media now provides a pathway for reaching the public directly, but journalists continue to be crucial. This session will provide participants with strategies and techniques for attracting media interest in their work, focusing on questions including: How do you draft a press release that will get journalists to show up to your event? What are pitfalls to avoid when conducting live interviews? How can you use social media to draw attention to your work? How can you cultivate long-term relationships with journalists?
This was an introductory session and did not require previous graphics or data experience. Attendees were invited to peruse the booklet “Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design,” downloadable at http://backspace.com/infodesign.pdf
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Human Rights Programming
The Bernstein Institute for Human Rights in partnership with centers, clinics, and student groups, organizes educational talks and programs for students and the broader NYU community on pressing human rights issues, with a focus on defending dissent and advancing legal empowerment.
Previous Human Rights Events:
Reclaiming Civic Space: Resistance, Resilience, and Resources
The 26th edition of the Sur International Journal on Human Rights, published by Conectas Human Rights in collaboration with The Fund for Global Human Rights, seeks to address the imbalance in information currently available on the global crackdown on civil society, the majority of which focuses on the diagnostics, rather than the responses by activists.
Conectas and The Fund—in partnership with ESCR-Net – International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights— hosted a panel discussion with the aim of sharing the body of knowledge captured by the Journal with an audience of scholars, activists, and practitioners.
Clerkship Talk with Judge Robin Rosenbaum
Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit talked with students who were interested in judicial clerkship positions. Judge Rosenbaum answered questions about applying for judicial clerkships and clerking on a federal appellate court.
Community-Driven Justice: Leading from the Grassroots
Community-Driven Justice: Leading from the Grassroots was a panel discussion on the importance of working directly with affected communities to build legal empowerment, grassroots action, and social change. In this social, political, economic, and cultural moment, community-driven justice is more important than ever. The discussion featured panelists Lam Ho, Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA), Michael Otto, Global Network Manager at Namati, and Heather Lewis, Director of Resource Development at CADCOM, and will be moderated by Kate Rubin, Director of Policy & Strategic Initiatives at Youth Represent.
This event was co-sponsored by NYU Law's Public Interest Law Center, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.
American Poverty & Disaster Recovery: A Human Rights Approach
Collete Pichon Battle, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, discussed how disasters and disaster recovery efforts affect the human rights of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in America. The conversation explored how generational and structural poverty affected people’s exposure to and experience of disaster; the long-term poverty impacts, including among disproportionately affected communities of color; and what it means to take a human rights-based approach to disaster recovery, and to focus on equity as a key to building more resilient communities.
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, Law Students for Human Rights, and Law Students for Economic Justice.
Social Media Activism
Raull Santiago and Renaya Tranajo, human rights activists, media makers, and residents of the Complexo do Alemão favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, discussed their work as co-founder of Coletivo Papo Reto (Straight Talk Collective). Coletivo Papo Reto is a network of young activists that uses social media to tell their own stories, counter stereotypes, and hold accountable police and other authorities for violations in their communities. They were joined by WITNESS's Priscila Neri.
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, and Law Students for Human Rights.
Professor Fort Fu-Te Liao: Partly Visual, Partly Real - Taiwan's Unique Interaction with International Human Rights Instruments
Professor Fort Fu-Te Liao, former visiting scholar at the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, shared his research on Taiwan's unique interaction with international human rights law. Professor Liao is a Research Professor at Institute of Law, Academic Sinica, Taiwan and an adjunct professor of Department of Law, National Taipei Univeristy and Human Rights MA, Soochow University. Professor Liao's research focuses on human rights issues through the lens of international human rights law, European law, and constitutional law.
Tashwill Esterhuizen, head of the LGBTI & Sex Workers' Rights Programme at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Charles Radcliffe, Senior Human Rights Advisor at the UN on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, held a discussion on strategies that have successfully helped advance the rights of the LGBTI community in Africa, despite government efforts to curtail freedoms.
Leadership in Business and Human Rights: A Conversation with Strive Masiyiwa and Tom Bernstein
In the wake of a coup attempt in July 2016, the president of Turkey declared an ongoing state of emergency. During that time, the government suspended, detained and placed under investigation tens of thousands of people, including more than 4,000 academics. Panelists discussed what this crackdown on dissent might mean for the future of higher education in Turkey, and the role universities in Turkey and abroad should play in protecting human rights.
Legal Empowerment: Strategies to Advance the Rights of Women and Children in South Asia
Sara Hossain, human rights lawyer and Executive Director of BLAST, a leading legal aid organization in Bangladesh shared BLAST’s groundbreaking efforts to advance women’s rights alongside Sukti Dhital, Deputy Director of the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Co-Founder of Nazdeek, a legal empowerment organization in India.
The World's Got 99 Problems and Worker's Rights Aren't One of Them
Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, joined students to discuss workers' rights around the globe. In his October 2016 report, the Special Rapporteur examined how and why labor rights and human rights came to be viewed as separate, focusing on the most marginalized portions of the world's labor force, including global supply chain workers, informal workers, migrant workers, domestic workers and others.
Human Rights Lunch with Rachel Meeropol
Rachel Meeropol (JD '02), Senior Staff Attorney and Associate Director of Legal Training and Education at the Center for Constitutional Rights, joined NYU Law students for an informal Q&A lunch to discuss human rights work and how to start a career in it. Rachel's work focuses on prisoners' rights, Muslim profiling, criminalization of dissent, and First Amendment issues.
This event was co-sponsored by the Public Interest Law Center and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
The Rights of Others in Foreign Policy
Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union's Special Representative for Human Rights, joined NYU students for a discussion of human rights in EU foreign policy. Topics included the universality of human rights, the shrinking space of civil society, and the issues of coherence and effectiveness that the EU faces.
This event was co-sponsored by the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Human rights advocacy is often concerned with mitigating the effects of illegal or excessive forms of state and non-state violence. However, advocates and litigators rarely focus on the contours of violence itself, the distinctions between lawful and unlawful violence, and the violence—potential or real—that is inherent in the enforcement of rights. John Sifton is a Human Rights Watch staffer and the author of a recently released reflection and memoir on his work, Violence All Around. He discussed the tensions between his work on terrorism and counterterrorism, his reflections on the physical realities of violence itself, and the history of theories of non-violent change.
Both advocacy and scholarly debates are focusing on the need to include a focus on economic injustice and corruption in transitional justice mechanisms. In part, the debate has been caused by a slim record of truth commission involvement on corruption investigations. To date, few commissions (those in Chad, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kenya) have explicitly conducted research on corruption. Currently, only the Tunisian Instance ‘Vérité et Dignité’ has a mandate to investigate corruption cases and facilitate an arbitration mechanism to solve ongoing investigations.
However, it would be misleading to say that Transitional Justice has completely omitted a focus on corruption; other instruments, particularly special inquiries, have taken place to recover assets and initiate criminal processes against perpetrators of kleptocratic, dictatorial regimes. The Philippines, after Marcos, and Peru after Fujimori, are salient examples. There have been more recent attempts at establishing exclusively corruption-focused truth commissions in Bangladesh and the Philippines to deal with legacies of large-scale corruption. Political challenges and technical problems led to incomplete outcomes in both cases. The topic is of critical relevance today however, as corruption investigations in Tunisia risk to stall due to political pressure to apply a mechanism of ‘amnesty for truth’ to corrupt business leaders and officials. The speakers shared their experiences and insights on the interface between transitional justice and anti-corruption initiatives during their talk.
#Black Lives Matter was created by three Black women in 2013, as a call to action after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. It gained momentum in 2014, when protests erupted following the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent failure to indict the officer on any charges. The mobilization against anti-Black racism and police violence was fueled by more deaths of Black people—men, women, and children, straight, queer, and trans—at the hands of police officers in 2014 and 2015, their names too numerous to mention here. Today, the Movement for Black Lives stands for more than a challenge to extrajudicial killings of Black people by the police; it stands for a challenge to the multiple ways in which Black people are deprived of fundamental human rights and dignity in the United States and around the world.