Posts Tagged ‘academic’

Urgently seeking professors to stop the Anti-Soros bill in Hungary

May 9, 2018

On 9 May 2018, Hungary’s (remaining) civil society issued the Professors Solidarity Call below, signed by 77 professor until now and asking for more signatories. It concerns the so-called “Stop Soros” bill, to be voted by the Hungarian parliament very soon, which will have a devastating impact on both Hungarian civil society and the asylum seekers and refugees that are already in a dire state. That Victor Orban is behind an ‘anti-Soros bill’ is the more remarkable as he himself was the beneficiary of a Soros scholarship [in 1988 a dissident Hungarian university graduate wrote a letter to George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist, asking for help obtaining a scholarship to Oxford University. In the letter, which has recently resurfaced, the young Viktor Orban said he wanted to study the “rebirth of civil society”. He got the scholarship.– the Economist 7 April 2018].

(see also my earlier: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/20/250-ngos-address-letter-to-hungarian-parliament-regarding-restriction-on-the-work-of-human-rights-defenders/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/19/ahmed-h-personifies-the-real-danger-of-populist-anti-terror-measures/)

PROFESSORS’ SOLIDARITY DECLARATION AND CALL FOR ACTION IN DEFENCE OF THE HUNGARIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE AND THE HUNGARIAN CIVIL SOCIETY

We, 77 university professors and academics from 28 countries around the world, express our solidarity with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the independent Hungarian civil society, which currently faces an imminent existential threat.

The so-called “Stop Soros” bill, to be voted by the Hungarian Parliament in mid-May 2018, will have a devastating impact on both Hungarian civil society and those vulnerable human beings that cannot count on anyone else’s support. The new legislation will allow the government to simply ban the activities of organizations assisting refugees and migrants in a fast and arbitrary process. Activities such as legal aid to asylum-seekers, reporting to the UN or the EU, holding university lectures about refugee law or recruiting volunteers will be rendered illegal, if these are performed by civil society actors who dare to criticise government practices. Practices, which are equally condemned by the EU and the international community.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) is an outstanding human rights organization, well-known and respected for its professionalism around the world, not only by civil society, but by academia, state authorities and the judiciary as well. The HHC has massively contributed to the promotion of refugee law education and legal clinics on various continents. We all personally know and highly respect their work. States should be proud of such NGOs, instead of aiming to silence them.

Strong and independent civil society organisations are as indispensable for democracy and the rule of law as strong and independent universities. If NGOs such as the Hungarian Helsinki Committee are threatened, democracy is threatened. If a prestigious organization, winner of various international human rights awards, can simply be banned from providing legal aid to refugees, if a globally reputed voice of human rights can be silenced with an administrative measure in an EU member state, then further dramatic anti-democracy measures are likely to follow. There is a real risk that the Hungarian example will be increasingly copied elsewhere, and soon it may be too late to stop the domino effect.

We call on our governments to express, without delay, their vivid discontent with Hungary’s legislation aiming at annihilating independent civil society. We call on universities around the world to do the same and actively demonstrate their solidarity with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the entire threatened Hungarian civil sector. We call on the European Union to prove to the world its credibility as a guardian and global promoter of fundamental rights, and immediately take action to prevent this flagrant human rights violation from happening on its own territory.

Signatures (in alphabetical order) at the end of the document: https://www.helsinki.hu/wp-content/uploads/Professors-solidarity-call-HHC-HU-NGOs-2018.pdf

https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21739968-election-april-8th-hungarys-prime-minister-looks-unbeatable-viktor-orban-set

Academics want UN Treaty Bodies to become ‘fit for purpose’

May 9, 2018

The Geneva Academy’s new publication Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System outlines a series of recommendations related to the functioning of United Nations Treaty Bodies (UN TBs) to prepare for the upcoming review of UN TBs by the UN General Assembly in 2020. ‘While the last words will remain with states and TBs members, this report can provide a basis for negotiations and the blueprint for future changes’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, co-coordinator of the Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020.

This work is the outcome of a three-year consultative process to collect academic inputs and ideas via the creation of an academic network of independent researchers, a call for papers, a series of regional consultations, annual and expert conferences, as well as ongoing interactions with key stakeholders: states, treaty bodies, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other parts of the UN. ‘The issue of TBs’ reform is almost as old as the system itself: many proposals that are on the table today were already formulated before. Our academic contribution takes these proposals out of their political context by analysing them, their relevance, their likelihood to be implemented and the possible need for updates’ adds Felix Kirchmeier.

The final objective of the publication and of the entire process is to make the TB system ‘fit for purpose’ by outlining measures to optimize its functioning, effectiveness and efficiency while safeguarding its key protection role and maintaining the existing legal framework.

‘While the publication provides several detailed recommendations, it notably call for a consolidated state report and a single review, or a semi-consolidated state report and two clustered reviews; the implementation of incremental changes in the TBs working methods; and a consolidation of TBs’ structure in terms of membership, as well as financial and substantial support’ underlines Kamelia Kemileva, Executive Manager at the Geneva Academy and co-coordinator of the Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020.

The 45-page study contains many interesting ideas and I copy here only one of particular interest which is to improve the system’s accessibility and visibility:

To meet its purpose, TB output must be accessible and visible. Many contributors expressed concern on this account. Modern technology offers easy solutions, some of which have been implemented but could be taken further.

Contributors unanimously welcomed the webcasting of country examinations and consider it an important improvement. However, they recommended that webcasts should be broadcast and archived in all working languages, as well as the language in which the review is held – the only one that is available at the moment. They also suggested that webcasts should be easier to access via links on the OHCHR home page in each country and via each committee’s session web page.

Many contributors also called for a readily accessible, up-to-date, comprehensive database of TB jurisprudence. It was noted that information on TB findings is currently hard to find (when available), that the database is incomplete, and that decisions are not always available in all UN official languages. Accessing and understanding TB jurisprudence remains a challenge for all stakeholders – whether they are victims of human rights violations, TB members, states, national and regional human rights mechanisms, civil society organizations, or scholars.

Contributors recommended that more user-friendly fact sheets and jurisprudence summaries should be prepared to disseminate TB findings and other important developments.

To increase visibility, contributors proposed maintaining dedicated pages on social media platforms. This would bring TBs’ work to the attention of larger audiences, assist Committees to update information on their activities, and create followers. More generally, the system’s achievements and impact on rights-holders should be better documented and publicized.

(my earlier posts on TBs include: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/05/06/the-outcome-of-the-treaty-body-strengthening-process-workshop-on-9-may-2014-in-geneva/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/18/on-24-october-there-is-a-side-event-in-ny-on-the-implementation-of-human-rights-treaty-body-recommendations/ as well as https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/02/17/treaty-bodies-case-law-database-saved-and-resurrected-by-un/)

———–

https://www.geneva-academy.ch/news/detail/121-optimizing-the-un-treaty-bodies-system

Venice School Of Human Rights: program for 9-16 June 2018

February 23, 2018

Banner Venice School PCDN

The Venice School of Human Rights (created in 2010) wants to highlight that the respect for human rights is the responsibility of all, that “Human Rights are our responsibility”.

THE PROGRAMME

After a first joint session, participants will be divided in the three thematic clusters following the choice made upon enrollment. Clusters will focus on Business & Human Rights, Human Rights Defenders and Women, Peace and Security.

Cluster on Business & Human Rights: recent trends and developments

Under the leadership of Giulia Di Tommaso, an international lawyer with over twenty years of global experience in Legal and Public Affairs on a wide range of business issues, the course explores the interdisciplinary components of the Business and Human Rights agenda and provides thoughtful insights on the most recent developments from experts representatives from Academia, International Organizations and Institutions (EU, UN, FAO, OECD), and the private sector

Cluster on Human Rights Defenders

Under the responsibility of George Ulrich, Program Director of the European Master in Human Rights and Democratization (EMA), the cluster on Human Rights Defenders will review a cross-section of instruments, policies and coordination mechanisms that have been devised to protect and facilitate the work of human rights defenders. It will also explore possibilities for reinforcing the work of human rights defenders through a targeted engagement with international, regional and national human rights mechanisms as well as civil society organisations operative in areas intersecting with the work of local human rights defenders giving particular attention to contexts of imminent threat to human rights, notably conflict and post-conflict situations and situations of repressive governance, as well as sexual and gender-based violence.

Cluster on Women, Peace and Security in a growing extremist and militarised world: Agenda, implementation gap and the transformative approach & potential of CEDAW

The cluster under the leadership of Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides, Chairperson of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EU Agency) and former Vice-President of the European Inter University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation will provide a state of the art critical appraisal on the Women, Peace and Security agenda in a growing extremist and militarised world and stimulate reflection on achievements, key challenges and ways ahead. Participants will have the opportunity to refine their knowledge on both empirically and theoretically informed analyses and highly benefit from discussions with experienced field activists, leading scholars and world-class decision-makers.

Opening and Closing Lectures

The Opening Lectures of the School will be held by Manfred Nowak, EIUC Secretary General and Dalia Leinarte, Chairperson of the CEDAW Committee. Manfred Nowak, Professor of international law and human rights at the University of Vienna, has been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and member of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Dalia Leinarte, Professor of Family History at Vilnius University is the Director of the Gender Studies Centre at Vilnius University and  Member of the working group for Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The Closing Lecture of the School will be held by Ambassador Mara Marinaki, the Principle Gender EEAS Advisor on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Ambassador Mara Marinaki is a law graduate from the University of Athens, and holds an LL.M in International Law from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki.

Dates: 9 – 16 June 2018

Application deadline: 23 April 2018

For any query about the Venice School of Human Rights you can drop a mail to veniceschool@eiuc.org or visit https://eiuc.org/school

https://pcdnetwork.org/blogs/venice-school-of-human-rights-4/

UAE: it is not just Ahmed Mansoor – academic Nasser Bin Ghaith gets 10 year for tweets

March 31, 2017

Middle East Eye reported on 31 March 2017 that the Emirates (UAE) had sentenced human rights defender Nasser Bin Ghaith to 10 years for ‘offensive online posts‘ (i.e. that criticised Egypt).

Dr Nasser bin Ghaith speaking at a conference (ADHRB)

After all the attention on the recent arrest of MEA Laureate, Ahmed Mansoor [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/ahmed-mansoor/], it is good to point out that he is not the only one being silenced in the UAE. On Wednesday Nasser Bin Ghaith was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Ghaith told the court he had been beaten and deprived of sleep for up to a week at a time by prison guards. The court did not specify which social media posts the charge related to or what they said. The authorities said he had published “photos and articles that are offensive to the state’s symbols and values, its internal and foreign policies and its relations with an Arab state,” which is understood to refer to Egypt. Ghaith is an Emirati economist who has lectured at the Abu Dhabi campus of the Paris-based Sorbonne University. He also worked as an economic and legal consultant to the UAE army.”By imposing this ludicrous sentence in response to his peaceful tweets, the authorities have left no room for doubt: those who dare to speak their minds freely in the UAE today risk grave punishment,” declared Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International. Amnesty called Ghaith “a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs.”  See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/05/18/uae-emirates-human-rights-defender-nasser-bin-ghaith-ngos-censorship/

For background see the older links:
Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/08/uae-press-release/ Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde25/2299/2015/en/
Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/08/24/uae-reveal-whereabouts-academic

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/detention-nasser-bin-ghaith

Source: 10 years for a tweet: UAE jails academic for criticising Egypt | Middle East Eye

Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Mexican scholar on indigenous and minority rights, passed away

November 7, 2016

It is good to remember not only the front-line human rights defenders but also those who struggled on the side of the oppressed contributing their academic and diplomatic talents. One of those is certainly Rodolfo Stavenhagen (born 29 August 1932) who died on 5 November 2016. He was a Mexican sociologist,a professor-researcher at El Colegio de México and former Deputy Director General of UNESCO. From 2001 – 2008 he was the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people through Resolution 2001/57. Read the rest of this entry »

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson to receive Michigan’s Wallenberg Medal

November 7, 2016

The University of Michigan’s 2016/17 Wallenberg Medal has been  awarded to civil rights lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. He is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization he founded in 1989 that focuses on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the United States. EJI litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. Under Stevenson’s direction, EJI has handled hundreds of cases and spared the lives of 125 death row prisoners. Stevenson’s arguments have convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that juveniles in non-homicide cases may not be sentenced to life without parole. He is creating a memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, to commemorate the more than 4,000 persons who were lynched in 12 southern states between 1871 and 1950.

Stevenson is a professor of law at New York University, where he prepares students to consider the legal needs of those in resource-deprived regions. He has been a visiting professor of law at the U-M Law School. He wrote the prize-winning book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” and has won numerous awards and honors, including Reebok Award (1989), the Gleitsman Award (2000). the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty, the Olaf Palme Prize for international human rights (2000), the Gruber Prize for International Justice (2009) and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award.

Raoul Wallenberg was a 1935 graduate of U-M’s College of Architecture. As a Swedish diplomat Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews near the end of World War II.

NOTE: There are at least two other awards with Wallenberg in the title:

  • Raoul Wallenberg Prize (Council of Europe )
  • Raoul Wallenberg and Civic Courage Awards (USA), and there is
  • the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (Lund, Sweden)

The ceremony for Stevenson will take place on 7 March, 2017; after the medal presentation, Stevenson will give the 25th Wallenberg Lecture.

Source: Lawyer, activist Bryan Stevenson to receive Wallenberg Medal | The University Record

Defending Human Rights – Online Programme by York University

November 26, 2014

Defending Human Rights” is a part-time distance learning programme delivered wholly online in a fully supported environment by the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the
University of York in the UK. The programme was piloted successfully last year, with the support of the Sigrid Rausing Trust and Open Society Foundation. Students can take one, two or three modules as a continuing professional development student, without academic credit, or complete all three modules as a postgraduate student, with academic credit. Postgraduate students who complete all three credit-bearing modules are awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Defending Human Rights.

  • Scholarships available to cover 50% of fees (especially several people sign up from one organisation).
  • Online teaching by tutors and guest lecturers with practical field experience
  • Modules in International Human Rights Law and Advocacy, Working Safely: Managing Risk and Strengthening Protection, and Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations.

The Centre is now accepting applications for the Post Graduate Certificate, commencing in January 2015.  For more details, see http://www.york.ac.uk/cahr/studying/online/#tab-1

Peaceful Protests should be facilitated not suppressed says Geneva Academy

February 10, 2014

On 26 February 2014 the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights will be organising a Panel of Experts on the topic of Facilitating Peaceful Protests. The meeting will take place in the new Maison de la Paix (chemin Eugène-Rigot 2) in Geneva, from 18h00 -20h00. This is very timely as there are a lot of problems with the implementation of this aspect of freedom of assembly and expression as demonstrated again and again in this blog; most recently on 22 January (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/human-rights-defenders-call-on-osce-to-establish-rapid-response-mechanism-in-cases-of-mass-rallies/). Freedom of assembly, and specifically for the purpose of protest, concerns every state. A state that obstructs or prevents peaceful protests, deems them unlawful, or uses force to disperse or deter them, is not only potentially violating the right to freedom of assembly but also creating conditions that invite violence. In recent protests in Cambodia, Egypt, Thailand, and Ukraine, among many others, excessive use of force by the security forces has been widely condemned. It is in the state’s own interest to ensure that protests can occur, and that they can occur peacefully. Most

The Experts Panel, which will discuss the facilitation of peaceful protests and constraints on the use of force by law enforcement personnel as well as efforts at the multilateral level to promote and protect human, will be composed of:

  • Stuart Casey-Maslen, Head of Research, Geneva Academy
  • Christof Heyns, United Nations Special, Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
  • Neil Corney, Researcher, Omega Foundation UK and expert on police use of weapons
  • Barbara Fontana, Deputy Head of Human Rights section, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva.

It will also be the occasion to launch the new Academy Briefing on Facilitating Peaceful Protests.

Scholars at Risk: stellar example of specialized protection tool for Human Rights Defenders

February 12, 2013

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 300 universities and colleges in 34 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. Read the rest of this entry »

Protection International announces its 2nd Online Course: Postgraduate Diploma on Integral Protection for Human Rights Defenders

November 13, 2012

Protection International announces the 2nd edition of its “Postgraduate Diploma on Integral Protection for Human Rights Defenders and Social Activists”.

It will begin in January 2013. It is organised jointly with the Universidad Pablo de Olavide.

This Diploma is the first of its kind, since it is the only international Postgraduate Diploma addressing the need to protect defenders.

The course addresses that protection in a comprehensive way, covering the existing national, international and regional laws and protection mechanisms; also studying security management, psychosocial support, the design of protection programs, etc. The course will also include an introduction to the protection of witnesses and victims.

The two institutions running it are:

– The Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain) which has been offering Post-graduate education in human rights for many years, and has introduced to the university the critical theory of human rights.

– Protection International (Brussels) which offers an extensive experience working directly for the protection of defenders in over fifteen countries in Africa, Asia, America and Europe.

Directors: Rosario Valpuesta Fernández and Luis Enrique Eguren
Dates: January 2013 – July 2013
Credits: 30 ECTS
Enrolment fees: 800 Euros (certificate fees not included)
Pre-registration and enrolment: Online
Languages used during the training process: Spanish or English

Online Course: Postgraduate Diploma on Integral Protection for Human Rights Defenders and Social Activists | | Protection InternationalProtection International.