Posts Tagged ‘lecture’

Shalini Randeria’s lecture on Press Freedom in the time of Coronavirus

July 10, 2020

On 30 April 2020 at the occasion of World Press Freedom Day the Graduate Institute in Geneva organised a lecture by Shalini Randeria Professor, Anthropology and Sociology and Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, on “Defending Press Freedom in the Time of Coronavirus“. Even after 6 weeks it is still valid, here in full:

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/03/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-small-selection-of-cases/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/04/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-few-more-links/

The coronavirus crisis has provided a welcome pretext for soft authoritarian regimes the world over to strengthen their hold on power, with their declared states of exception potentially becoming the new normal. Curbing press freedom was among illiberal rule’s casualties even prior to the pandemic; attacks against independent newspapers and TV channels have not been limited to the Trump Presidency, which is notorious for its charge of “fake news” against critical reporters. But neutrality of the press can be a risky principle in the face of “alternative facts” such as Trump’s recent home remedies for the coronavirus.

The USA was ranked 45th out of 180 countries for its hostility towards news media in Reporters without Borders’ recently published World Press Freedom Index, with China (ranked 117th), Iraq and Iran among the countries mentioned for censoring coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Instead of suppressing the spread of COVID-19, placing limits on press freedom could backfire, not only by reducing public awareness about the grave risks of the virus, but also preventing public debate about steps needed to mitigate the risks.

Moreover, this gag on press freedom compounds an unprecedented lockdown in which parliaments – even in liberal democracies – are hardly functioning, courts are not in regular session, street protests are impossible due to restrictions on the right to assembly, elections have been cancelled (for the most part), and universities are closed.

Under these circumstances, a free press is the only institution of countervailing power that could hold a government to account.

A widespread anti-press sentiment along with the detention, intimidation and jailing of activists and journalists, has become the order of the day in Turkey and India, to name but a few of the countries witnessing systematic assaults on press freedom in recent years, assaults that have escalated under the conditions created by the curtailment of civil liberties due to the threat of coronavirus.

Hungary suspended its parliament and further curbed freedom of expression, giving Prime Minister Orban unfettered emergency powers to rule by decree. China expelled American journalists for reporting on the dangers of the virus, while Iraq temporarily withdrew Reuter’s license after it published a story on the government’s under-reporting of COVID-19 cases.

On 10 April 2020, The New York Times reported that 28,000 workers at news companies in the USA had lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic. It is unlikely that the news industry will receive the federal aid that it is pleading for to prevent further job losses and closures.

What Buzzfeed has called “media extinction” comes in the wake of decades of layoffs and the shutting down of small local and regional newspapers, but also of large, progressive news sites, such as ThinkProgress in 2019. Fox News, however, continues to gather strength, posting record ratings in the first quarter of this year.

The commercialisation of the public sphere, along with the enormous concentration of power in the hands of very few media companies, which are closely linked to politicians in many a liberal democracy, spells danger for press freedom, as does repression by authoritarian governments. Both trends result in a near monopoly over information.

The WHO’s Director-General alerted us recently that the pandemic is also an “infodemic”, one that has given a fillip to spurious conspiracy theories circulating widely in various social media: “fake news” spread not only by ill-informed private individuals or ill-intentioned groups but also by governments.

But it has drawn attention once again to the dangers of “dead” or “buried” news suppressed by those in authority along with the deployment of all kinds of strategies to control information and mute public debate.

The rhetoric of the pandemic as “war” against an invisible enemy employed in France, as much as in China and the US, serves the same function.

Liberal democracies need strong civil society organisations that can mobilise public opinion and foster public debate, monitor the functioning of institutions, and hold politicians and public officials responsible.

In the absence of the freedom of the press, neither protest nor dissent can be voiced. The COVID-19 crisis may have accelerated the speed of the movement towards the slippery slope of dismantling democracy and human rights in many parts of the world.

https://graduateinstitute.ch/communications/news/defending-press-freedom-time-coronavirus

Asma Jahangir memorial lecture at second anniversary of her death

February 12, 2020

At the second anniversary of her death, an ‘Asma Jahangir memorial lecture’ was held in Islamabad [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/11/asma-jahangir-one-of-the-worlds-most-outstanding-human-rights-defenders-dies-at-age-66/].

Human rights defender Rehman presented an overview of the human rights situation in Pakistan at the first ‘Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture’ held on Tuesday 12 February 2020. On this occasion he warmly recalled HRCP’s co-founder, remembering her as the ‘voice of sanity and compassion’. Rehman spoke about people’s fundamental right to ‘economic justice’. Citing examples ranging from bonded labourers and small farmers to lady health workers and journalists, he said that people’s economic rights – the ‘right to employment, and just and equitable conditions of work’ should not be subject to the “availability of resources.” He also reminded the government of their international commitments for political and civil rights.While the Constitution protected people’s social and economic wellbeing, said Rehman, it was critical to secure the substance of these rights, their availability to all citizens and their incremental expansion. “Economic justice must not, therefore, be sacrificed at the altar of national security,” he said. He reminded the audience that ‘all citizens of Pakistan’ had the right to economic justice, and that Asma Jahangir would not have stood quietly by in such a situation.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary-General Harris Khalique announced that the Commission was instituting the Asma Jahangir Award for Human Rights Defenders, and resuming the Nisar Osmani Award for Courage in Journalism and the I. A. Rehman Research Grant in Human Rights.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/612817-asma-jahangir-memorial-lecture-held

Report of the Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture 2019

July 24, 2019

Panelists at the 2019 Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture

The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture was held at the Graduate Institute 18 July 2019 [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/12/nelson-mandela-human-rights-lecture-in-geneva-on-18-july-2019/]. For the lecture, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Albie Sachs, Former Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, were present to share their incredible personal experiences of fighting for human rights.

Establishing the Rule of Law in South Africa as a form of ‘Soft Vengeance’ against Apartheid

A piece of paper, a body, a voice and the dreams of millions of people, including our hope; for those of you in the audience, that’s my text for today’, began Mr Sachs, who had fought against apartheid since age 17, was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 1994 and played a critical role in the creation of the first draft of South Africa’s Bill of Rights, adopted in 1996 by the South African parliament as an integral part of the South African Constitution. Mr Sachs explained that his efforts to establish a rule of law in South Africa were a form of ‘soft vengeance’ against apartheid, exemplified through his own, personal tribulation. On 7 April 1988 in Mozambique, as a result of a car bomb, he lost his right arm. …Commenting on the trial of one of the accused car bombers, Mr Sachs said, ‘My vengeance will be if the person receives a fair trial, and if his guilt is not beyond doubt, will be acquitted, because this will prove that we will have established the rule of law’.

Standing Up and Acting for Change

Michelle Bachelet recounted her own experience as a human rights defender. She told of dictatorship in Chile, the torture and killing of her father and her mother’s detention. In defiance of the anger she felt at her family’s situation, she found the perseverance to stand up and act for change, becoming the first woman President of Chile (dually elected), then Executive Director of UN Women, and eventually replacing Zeid Raad Al Hussein in 2018 as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

‘[…] the world today faces complex challenges, challenges too big for one country, challenges that do not respect borders’, she said. ‘[…] And we see a pushback on human rights. And I say, let’s pushback the pushback’.

Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture Michelle Bachelet

Video of the Lecture. You can watch here the Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture in its entirety.

https://www.geneva-academy.ch/news/detail/247-human-rights-warriors-tell-their-stories-at-the-nelson-mandela-human-rights-lecture

 

Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture in Geneva on 18 July 2019

July 12, 2019

On the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day, Albie Sachs, Former Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, and Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will reflect on today’s challenges to human rights and how to move the human rights agenda forward based on their personal experiences.

THURSDAY 18 JULY 2019, 18:00 – 19:30  AUDITORIUM IVAN PICTET | MAISON DE LA PAIX, GENEVA

Welcome remarks:

  • Andrew Clapham, Professor of Public International Law, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Ambassador, South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva

Keynote speech:

  • Albie Sachs, Former Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa

Discussion with:

  • Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Pretoria (moderator)
  • Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Ambassador, South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva
  • Albie Sachs, Former Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa

Closing remarks:

  • Frans Viljoen, Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture is presented by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria, the Washington College of Law at the American University, the Human Rights Council Branch at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in collaboration with the South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

This lecture is part of the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition and will be followed by a reception.

https://graduateinstitute.ch/communications/events/nelson-mandela-human-rights-lecture

26 February: lecture on populism and human rights by Michael Ignatieff in Geneva

February 10, 2019

The populist upsurge in the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe and in established democracies like the United States has exposed the political vulnerability of rule of law as a cornerstone of liberal democracy. It is not just in authoritarian populist states that the independence of judges and the authority of law have come under attack in the name of a majoritarian conception of democracy. This suggests that the rule of law has always stood in a relation of tension with other principles of democracy, including majority rule and an independent media. The lecture explores these renewed political pressures on rule of law using contemporary examples drawn from the US, the UK and Hungary. [for some of my posts on populism, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/populism/]

Tuesday 26 February 2019, 18:30 – 20:00 in the Auditorium IVAN PICTET | Maison de la Paix, Geneva

Michael Ignatieff is the Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest. His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013), and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017). [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/08/11825/]

The lecture will be moderated by Shalini Randeria, Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute, Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and Rector of the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen Institute (IWM) in Vienna.

This event is organised by the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy.

To register: http://graduateinstitute.ch/home/research/centresandprogrammes/hirschman-centre-on-democracy/events-1/past-events.html/_/events/hirschman-centre-on-democracy/2019/law-populism-and-liberal-democra

 

Sergio Vieira de Mello Lecture 2018 by Staffan de Mistura

March 8, 2018

Monday 19 March, 18:30 – 21:00, Staffan de Mistura, United Nations special envoy for the Syria crisis, will give the 2018 Sergio Vieira de Mello Lecture.

Staffan de Mistura is the United Nations special envoy for the Syria crisis. Having previously served as the head of the UN missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has over thirty years’ experience of working in conflict-affected areas and within humanitarian agencies. The event is moderated by the journalist Sophie Shevardnadze and will take place at Auditorium Ivan Pictet at the Maison de la Paix in Geneva. Registration is required for this event. Register here

The annual lecture is organised by the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation and the Graduate Institute.

Last year: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/27/angelina-jolie-gives-2017-sergio-vieira-de-mello-lecture-on-15-march-2017/

Human Rights Accountability of Non-State Actors – lecture in Leuven

February 14, 2018

The Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies is organising the SPRING LECTURE SERIES 2018 under the theme: UNDER SIEGE: HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW.

On Monday 26 February 2018 – from 11h00 – 13h00 – (Tiensestraat 41, LeuvenDr. Kasey McCall-Smith will speak about “Human Rights Accountability of Non-State Actors (MNEs, NGOs, …): the Next Frontier”.

[The negative impact on human rights by business activity has been the focus of much academic and public policy debate. In no other field of law has the stubbornness of the public and private international law divide been exposed more starkly and with such devastating effects for individuals. Human rights law discourse has spent the last two decades debating the impact of business activity on human rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights was hailed as a great victory. But, as rightly noted by the Special Rapporteur on Business and Human Rights, the UN Framework and Guiding Principles was simply the end of the beginning of the debate. International law has yet to catch up with the realities of business activity and its impact on human rights and the environment. This lecture will look at the key soft law developments of the past decade, the push to ‘harden’ these soft law initiatives, and examine a case study on smartphone supply chain management to elaborate the difficulties of reconciling human rights accountability and abuse by non-state actors. The legal issues raised in respect to multinational enterprises will also be considered in light of increasing pressure to hold other non-state actors to account, such as international organisations and NGOs. Ultimately, the lecture will contribute ideas about how to move forward on the next human rights frontier.]

Dr. McCall-Smith is a lecturer in Public International Law and programme director for the LLM in Human Rights. She is a US qualified lawyer and holds a BA in Architectural Studies (1998) and Juris Doctor (2001) from the University of Arkansas. Dr McCall-Smith was awarded an LLM (2002) and a PhD (2012) for her thesis on ‘Reservations to Human Rights Treaties’ by the University of Edinburgh. She is currently the Chair of AHRI, the Association of Human Rights Institutes. McCall-Smith’s research focuses primarily on treaty law and how treaties are interpreted and implemented at the domestic and supranational levels. Ensuring clarity in the law of treaties, specifically in reference to reservations to human rights treaties, is a major theme that she has pursued. She interested in the role of the UN human rights treaty bodies as generators of law. The increasingly blurred distinction between public and private international law in terms of human rights protection is another of her research interests.

Participation is free, but register by Friday 23 February at the latest

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/07/leuven-centre-for-global-governance-studies-organizes-new-mooc-on-human-rights-as-from-21-june/

https://mailchi.mp/kuleuven/event-414449?e=bf340a3bd5

5th Werner Lottje lecture in Berlin focuses on Cambodia

February 8, 2018

On 21 February 2018, Bread for the World and the German Institute for Human Rights organise for the 5th time the Werner Lottje Lecture [the lecture is named after the German activist who was a major force in the international human rights movement [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/11/16/and-a-lot-more-about-werner-lottje-the-great-german-human-rights-defender/].

This year the focus is on human rights defenders in Cambodia.

For last year’s lecture see: : https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/26/the-4th-werner-lottje-lecture-showcases-the-zone-9-bloggers-from-ethiopia-15-february/.

Programme:

Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel; President Bread for the World

Naly Pilorge; Acting Director, LICADHO, Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights

Julia Duchrow; Head Human Rights and Peace, Bread for the World

Michel Forst; UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

19:00 panel discussion with Gyde Jensen; MP, chair of the Bundestag Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance; Michel Forst; Naly Pilorge; and Dr. Julia DuchrowModerated by Michael Windfuhr; acting Director German Institute for Human Rights

 

Date and place: 21/2/2018, 17:30 – 20:00 at Brot für die Welt, Caroline-Michaelis-Straße 1, 10115 Berlin.

To attend please contact eimear.gavin@brot-fuer-die-welt.de (+49 (0)30 65211 1811) before 15 February.

 

There will be German – English interpretation.

 

Angelina Jolie gives 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture on 15 March 2017

February 27, 2017

svm-logo.png

The Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation announces that the UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, is to give the 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture. She has spent fifteen years advocating on refugees’ behalf.

angelina-jolie

The lecture is organised by the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation and the Graduate Institute, to honour the memory of Sergio. The event is hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva. Wednesday 15 March 2017, 18:30 – 20:00
Assembly Hall, Geneva.

Registration for this event is now closed.

For earlier post on Angelina Jolie see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/angelina-jolie/

THE IMPACT OF COUNTER-TERRORISM LAWS AND POLICIES ON IHL AND HUMANITARIAN ACTION

January 25, 2017

Counter-terrorism is a major concern of many governments today. Since 9/11 and more recently after the attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, Lebanon, Tunisia or Turkey, states have adopted new counter-terrorism measures and legislation intended to address the threat of terrorism.

The steps taken are diverse, ranging from surveillance to emergency legislation as well as the use military force against designated terrorist groups abroad. In some instances, more restrictive conditions of financing and the risk of criminal sanctions in cases of ‘material support’ to listed terrorist organizations – a notion which has been broadly interpreted by US case law- have impacted the implementation of certain IHL rules as well as humanitarian assistance. This has reduced the scope of action of humanitarian agencies and NGOs.

In that context, this third IHL Talk on 26 January 2017 will discuss the legal regime governing terrorism, in particular how IHL addresses acts of terrorism and what is the relationship with other international treaties. More generally, experts will discuss the legal and operational challenges counter-terrorism has created for IHL and humanitarian action.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Ambassador Valentin Zellweger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and the other international organizations in Geneva

MODERATION

Gunilla von Hall, Foreign correspondent in Geneva for the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet

PANELISTS

Sandra Krähenmann, Research Fellow, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Carla Ruta, Legal Adviser, Geneva Call

Where?  Villa Moynier, 120B Rue de Lausanne, Geneva

Source: Upcoming Events – The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights