Posts Tagged ‘Columbia University’

Abuse of nature and people: Environmental and Justice Activists Need to Join Forces

June 7, 2020

Image: Stournsaeh/Shutterstock

Cayte Bosler wrote on 3 June 2020 for the General Earth Institute a blog repeating the often heard warning that “Environmental and Justice Activists Need to Join Forces“. (https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/06/03/environmental-justice-activists/). It also relates this to the recent upheavals in the USA started by the killing of George Floyd:

Resistance inspires. Defiance in the face of a violent, oppressive culture can inspire another person’s defiance. Even when an uprising is only beginning, when the path forward is unclear, it is essential to resist. All together. The goal: to defeat a system fundamentally, historically, and intentionally based on mass exploitation in the interest of profit for a privileged few.

The environmental movement can learn from those who come from a tradition of resistance and have organized their struggle in movements like Black Lives Matter and Idle No More, founded by First Nations. The protests enveloping our country today are seeded by centuries of injustice and violence, by underlying power imbalances and inequalities that have never been truly addressed. The founders of these social movements knew then and now that they cannot combat violent oppressors through pure persuasion. So they resist.……….

Environmentalists and justice activists cannot stay isolated in their movements. To be effective at combating climate change and countless other social and environmental injustices, we must acknowledge the links between the abuse of nature and people, and devise strategies to protect the planet, to resist its demise – even when doing so is frightening. Especially then. Ultimately, resisting mass exploitation on all fronts is the only thing that will make us safer.

For many — especially people of color — the impacts of climate change and the degradation of environmental harm are not a future concern. It is life or death, and it’s happening now. If we want to reverse the losses, we need to begin to speak honestly to each other about the long history of abuse that has led to the unrest, rage, and grief that we feel today. We need to confront how power works in society, including in regions where exploitation of indigenous people and the ecosystems they call home go unnoticed by mainstream media….

In addition to poverty, lack of clean air, safe drinking water, health care, and more—all of which lead to “preexisting conditions”—many communities of color are confronted with the threat of coronavirus and are more vulnerable to the pandemic. Reports estimate that people of color are twice as likely to die from COVID-19…….

The author provides several examples from her own field work and experience……

How can we endeavor to protect the planet when its frontline defenders are being killed or intimidated by state-sanctioned violence? How can we expect to solve the climate crisis if our strategies do not include protecting life above corporate, government, and elite interests? Again, environmental advocates can learn from movements born from violent exploitation who are organizing to resist that violence.

Viable movements need supportive cultures to sustain them. They require healthy norms of behavior, processes to handle conflict, and ways to defeat destructive internal divisions and competition that stymie even the best-intentioned efforts toward progress. Horizontal hostility—a concept defined by Florynce Rae Kennedy, an African American lawyer, feminist, civil rights advocate, lecturer, and activist—occurs when activists fight against each other over differences rather than vertically against the oppressor. This behavior leaves relationships, activist networks, and movements in shreds.

A livable planet for all requires solidarity, using our shared principles and humanity to rise together to protect nature and banish injustice.

Cayte Bosler is a student in Columbia’s Sustainability Management masters program.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/08/06/environmental-human-rights-defenders-more-deadly-than-being-a-soldier-in-a-war-zone/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/24/land-rights-defenders-are-the-main-target-of-those-destroying-the-environment/

TrialWatch officially launched by Clooneys

April 25, 2019

As announced earlier this year [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/15/star-power-for-good-george-and-amal-clooney-at-least-try-to-tackle-controversial-issues/] on 25 April 2019 the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), together with partners Microsoft Corporation, Columbia Law School, the American Bar Association, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), launched their TrialWatch® initiative at an inaugural TrialWatch Conference and launch event.

Clooney Foundation For Justice Logo

Courts around the world are increasingly being used to silence dissidents and target the vulnerable. But so far there has been no systematic response to this,” said Amal Clooney, Co-President, Clooney Foundation for Justice. “The Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch program is a global initiative to monitor trials, expose abuses, and advocate for victims, so that injustice can be addressed, one case at a time.”

TrialWatch is an initiative focused on monitoring and responding to trials around the world that pose a high risk of human rights violations. TrialWatch aims to be the first comprehensive global program scrutinizing criminal trials around the world. CFJ will recruit and train trial monitors, including non-lawyers, who can observe and report on criminal trials around the world, and use a specialised app to record the proceedings. The Clooney Foundation for Justice will then work to expose injustice and rally support to secure justice for defendants whose rights have been violated. For each trial monitored, CFJ will work with an eminent legal expert to produce a Fairness Report assessing and grading the fairness of the trial against human rights standards, and, where necessary and possible, will be followed up with legal advocacy to assist a defendant in pursuing remedies in regional or international human rights courts. Ultimately, the data that is gathered will populate a global justice index that measures states’ performance in this area.

TrialWatch will focus on trials involving journalists, LGBTQ persons, women and girls, religious minorities, and human rights defenders. In recent months, TrialWatch monitors have observed proceedings in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. The cases have involved journalists being prosecuted under a wide variety of laws, including cyber laws, administrative laws, and terrorism laws, in six countries. TrialWatch has covered a trial of individuals being prosecuted under anti-LGBTQ laws in sub-Saharan Africa and proceedings involving a journalist detained under India’s National Security Act for criticizing the government on social media. TrialWatch monitors are also monitoring the trial of a lawyer in Eurasia, who is being prosecuted in connection with his work on behalf of human rights defenders and the trial of a journalist in Nigeria, who is being prosecuted for writing about internal government documents and refusing to reveal his source. Fairness reports are being produced to assess each of these trials, and many more trials will be monitored on an ongoing basis around the world.

CFJ has partnered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to develop an online training course for monitors. This course was developed by CFJ and approved by OHCHR.

——

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/clooney-foundation-justice-convenes-human-rights-leaders-mark-103100664.html?

Israel bars human rights lawyers from the USA

May 4, 2018

Two U.S. human rights lawyers were detained Sunday 29 April 2018 for 14 hours at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport before being deported back to the United States. Columbia University’s professor of law, gender and sexuality studies Katherine Franke and Center for Constitutional Rights’ executive director Vincent Warren were repeatedly questioned about their associations with groups critical of Israel. They were part of a delegation of American human rights defenders heading to Israel and Palestine to learn about the human rights situation and meet with local activists. They arrived back in New York City early Monday. Hear the interview with Vincent Warren and Katherine Franke via:

Columbia University opens prize nominations for “court rulings” and “legal services” supporting freedom of expression

October 24, 2017

Columbia University has opened 2018 prize nominations for judicial services and legal decisions supporting freedom of expression. What is a bit special about these awards is that they go to ‘court rulings” and “legal services” in the area of freedom of expression.

The Global Freedom of Expression initiative at Columbia University in New York City has opened nominations for its 2018 global prizes, which recognize judicial decisions and legal services strengthening freedom of expression through the promotion of international standards.

The initiative “seeks to advance understanding of the international and national norms and institutions that best protect the free flow of information and expression in an inter-connected global community with major common challenges to address.” It awards the Global Freedom of Expression Prizes, which began in 2014, every two years. “We believe that at a time when freedom of expression is threatened at a global level, there is a particular need to celebrate the victories in defense of this fundamental right”. Individuals and organizations, particularly jurists, academics and non-governmental organizations dedicated to freedom of expression, are invited to nominate court decisions or legal services from anywhere around the globe that “have had a recognizable impact on freedom of expression.” There will be separate prizes for “Court decision” and “Legal Service.” In the Legal Service Category, the awards will consider legal briefs, amicus briefs, academic or other publications.

See also: http://thedigestapp.trueheroesfilms.org/publicpage#/awards/c94fef00-b8a0-11e7-a2a0-d7e205af50d9/Columbia-Global-Freedom-of-Expression-Prizes

Nominations will close Jan. 31, 2018 and winners will be announced March 13. Forms are available in both English and Spanish.

Members of the Awards Committee are: Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University; Catalina Botero, former Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States; Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights; Lydia Cacho, journalist, human rights defender and author; Agnes Callamard, Director of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression initiative; Sarah Cleveland, Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights and member of the UN Human Rights Committee; and Irene Khan, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization.

The winners of the 2016 prize for Excellence in Legal Services were Professor Yaman Akdeniz, Assistant Professor Kerem Altiparmak and Attorney at Law Serkan Cengiz for fighting a court order blocking access to YouTube in Turkey. That same year, the prize for a Significant Legal Ruling was awarded for Supreme Court of Norway, Rolfsen and Association of Norwegian Editors v. the Norwegian Prosecution Authority. The court backed broad protection against journalists being forced to expose their sources.

Source: Columbia University opens 2018 prize nominations for judicial services and legal decisions supporting freedom of expression | Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

2016 Tang Prizes to Louise Arbour and US sinologist

June 22, 2016

 On 21 June 2016  it was announced that Louise Arbour, a Canadian lawyer and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was named the winner of the second Tang Prize in rule of law. The Tang Prize is awarded to Arbour “for her enduring contributions to international criminal justice and the protection of human rights, to promoting peace, justice and security at home and abroad, and to working within the law to expand the frontiers of freedom for all,”  Arbour, 69, was also the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) between 1996 and 1999. In 1998, Arbour became the first prosecutor to get a conviction of genocide in an international tribunal, when the ICTR convicted Jean-Paul Akayesu, a mayor in Rwanda, of genocide. Tribunal defined rape as a means of perpetrating genocide — the first time that rape was considered an act of genocide by an international tribunal. The following year, as the chief prosecutor for the ICTY, Arbour again made history by indicting Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who became the first sitting head of state to be tried for war crimes by an international tribunal.

A Tang Prize award ceremony will be held Sept. 25 in Taipei. The laureate will receive a cash prize of US$1.23 million and a research grant of up to NT$10 million to be used within five years.

The biennial Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin to complement the Nobel Prize and to honor top researchers and leaders in four fields: sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law.

This year the Tang Prize in the category sinology also has a human rights component as the laureate is William Theodore de Bary, Professor Emeritus of Columbia University. Read the rest of this entry »