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Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Human Rights Course Offerings

johnson.jpgWelcome back to campus! The Human Rights Program has revamped its curriculum this summer. Whether you're a graduate or undergraduate student, we have a few new course offerings this fall with seats still open. The human rights internship course, which is usually only offered in the spring, will be taught by Doug Johnson, the former director of the Center for Victims of Torture. Joachim Savelsberg, professor of Sociology, is offering a graduate level course on atrocity and the law that will be co-taught by John Hagan of Northwestern Law School.

GLOS 3402: Human Rights Internship [3 credits]
Doug Johnson, former director of the Center for Victims of Torture, will be teaching the human rights internship class this semester, which is usually only offered in the spring. This course is designed to offer students a practical, hands-on experience in human rights advocacy including an internship in one of the many organizations in the Twin Cities area that are engaged in promoting and protecting international human rights. A student is required to work 8 hours per week (total of 100 hours for the semester) in a nongovernmental organization. Placements are described in the accompanying handout. The weekly class will provide background on the legal framework for international human rights, the nature of transnational advocacy, the mission and structure of non-governmental organizations, as well as tactics, fund-raising and other skills needed to work in the field. Students have interned at a variety of organizations including the Advocates for Human Rights, the Center for Victims of Torture, the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School, and the Immigrant Law Center.
SOC 8190: Topics in Law, Crime, and Deviance
Atrocities: Collective Representations and the Law [3 credits]
This inter-disciplinary and inter-university seminar, co-taught via ITV technology by Profs. John Hagan from the Department of Sociology and the Law School of Northwestern University and Joachim Savelsberg from the Department of Sociology of the University of Minnesota will address social scientific, judicial and journalistic depictions of atrocities. These themes will be explored with a focus on the cases of Darfur, Rwanda, and the wars in the former Yugoslavia, supplemented by references to other cases of grave human rights violations, crimes against humanity and genocide. One central goal is to understand contrasting representations and collective memories of such violations, especially the effects judicial interventions have on representations and memories. These effects are considered as potential intervening mechanisms that contribute to the continuation or disruption of cycles of violence. Also communication between the fields of law, scholarship and journalism will be explored, and the tension between the globalization of representations and memories and local and national forces will be discussed. Ideas, materials and research agendas laid out in Hagan?s Justice in the Balkans (University of Chicago Press, 2003) and Darfur and the Crime of Genocide (with Rymond-Richmond, Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Savelsberg?s Crime and Human Rights (Sage, 2010) and American Memories: Atrocities and the Law (with King, Russell Sage Foundation, 2011) will guide part of our discussion. They will be supplemented by a range of related classical and contemporary writings by scholars from a variety of scholarly fields. The seminar should be of interest to graduate students in diverse disciplines such as sociology, political science, law, anthropology and history.
PA 5801: Global Public Policy [3 credits]
This spring, Professor James Ron in the Humphrey Institute will be teaching a class called "Global Public Policy" that will explore human rights themes from a public policy perspective. In PA 5801, students meet once a week to combine local, class-based discussions with international, cloud-based discussions with students in Mexico and Israel. The course examines global policy through the lens of "human security," an approach that focuses on the safety and well-being of the world's most vulnerable populations. In the first half of the course, we situate the human security notion within the broad sweep of international relations theory and global policymaking. We then examine the workings of relevant global actors, including the UN and its agencies, international NGOs, and transnational social movements. Next, we study some crucial global issues in a general way, including development, humanitarian aid, transnational crime, and humanitarian military intervention. In the course's second half, students apply these general lessons learned to concrete policy dilemmas and analysis in Mexico and Israel/Palestine. More specifically, we examine Mexico's brutal drug war, which has led to the death of some 60,000 people over the last six years, and the Israeli siege of Gaza, which has generated enormous international attention and caused substantial hardship among the civilian population. Although this is a graduate class, advanced undergraduates may enroll with instructor permission.

Human Rights and Terrorism Experts to Speak on Campus This Semester

tunheim.jpgThis fall, the University of Minnesota has the privilege of hosting numerous experts at the intersection of human rights and terrorism. Guest lecturers will speak to Professor JaneAnne Murray's "Law and Terrorism" class as well as Professor Kathryn Sikkink's "Human Rights and Democracy in the World" class. The Monday afternoon lectures during Professor Sikkink's course will be open to the public throughout the semester.

Federal District Court Judge Tunheim (pictured) will speak on November 26.

Below you'll find speaker profiles and a schedule. Professor Sikkink's Human Rights and Democracy class meets Monday from 2:30-3:20pm in Blegen 150.
Speaker Profiles and Schedule
1. Todd Hinnen (September 17, 2012) - is a partner in the Privacy and Security practice at Perkins Coie in Seattle. Previously, he was Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the Obama administration, where he oversaw the DOJ's nationwide counterterrorism, counterespionage and export control programs. He also represented the United States before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and has testified before Congress on numerous occasions in both open and classified hearings. He also served under President George W. Bush as a Director in the National Security Council's Directorate for Combating Terrorism.
2. Arie Perliger (September 24, 2012) - is Director of Terrorism Studies at the Combating Terrorism Center and Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences, US Military Academy at West Point. He has published four books and 15 articles and book chapters in the fields of terrorism, political violence and extremism and the principal ways democratic states respond to these challenges.
3. Joshua Dratel (October 1, 2012) - is a nationally-renowned criminal defense lawyer, with extensive experience in terrorism cases; former President of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (2005); Co-Chair of the Select Committee on Military Tribunals of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Senior Fellow for Legal Research at New York University Law School's Center on Law & Security, and a member of its Board of Advisors. Publisher of several books and articles on national security.
4. Nusrat Choudhury (October 8, 2012) - Nusrat Choudhury, a graduate of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Yale Law School, is a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Law Project. She is counsel of record in the ACLU's litigation against the F.B.I. challenging the No-Fly List.
5. Prof. Afsheen John Radson (October 15, 2012) - is an associate professor at William Mitchell College of Law, and founder and director of William Mitchell's National Security Forum. Previously, he has served as a federal prosecutor and as assistant general counsel at the CIA. He has written extensively on national security issues.
6. Justine Harris (November 12, 2012) - is principal in Colson & Harris, LLP, a boutique federal criminal law practice in New York City. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School and a former federal defender, she sits on the board of Federal Defenders of New York, and is also director of the Federal Defender Clinic at NYU Law School. She has represented defendants in several high-profile terrorism prosecutions, including Zeinab Taleb-Jedi, Wesam El-Hanafi, and Mohammed Zazi (the latter case in a jury trial).
7. Keith Ellison (November 19, 2012) - is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, serving since 2007. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, he is the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, and also the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota. He serves on the House Financial Services Committee, which, inter alia, handles policy matters relating to combating terrorist financing.
8. Judge John Tunheim (November 26, 2012) - is a U.S. District Court Judge in Minnesota, who presided over the case of Minneapolis terrorism suspect Mohammed Abdullah Warsame, among other terrorism cases. He also served as chair of the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board, in charge of declassifying the government records of the Kennedy assassination, and served as Minnesota chief deputy attorney general. In April, 2012, he spoke on "National Security Law and the Judiciary" at a luncheon hosted by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security.
9. James Cullen (December 3, 2012) - is a retired Brigadier General in the United States Army Reserve Judge Advocate General's Corps and served as the Chief Judge (IMA) of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. In 2004, he joined with seven other retired officers in an open letter to President Bush expressing their concern over the number of allegations of abuse of prisoners in U.S. military custody. He is a frequent guest lecturer/commentator on the use of military tribunals to prosecute suspected terrorists.

Introducing the Human Rights Program's New Student Advisory Board

3figures.jpgThe Student Advisory Board, ten highly motivated undergraduate students from the University of Minnesota, connects the Human Rights Program and the U's undergraduate student community. These students hail from Global Studies, Political Science, Economics, Social Justice, Journalism, Psychology, and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. Starting next semester, the Student Advisory Board will coordinate student efforts to promote human rights on campus. Keep an eye out for Student Advisory Board events!

Click here to read more about the Student Advisory Board members.

Friday, August 17, 2012

At Town Hall Forum Rep. Ellison Calls for Accountability for Torture

EndingTortureNow.jpgCarrying on in the tradition of renowned public officials from Minnesota who have promoted human rights, Representative Keith Ellison spoke to a full house in Minneapolis on Monday, August 13, saying, "Democracy works because citizens stand up and make demands" of their government, and "it's time to demand accountability." More than 150 activists, students, and community members turned out at Mayflower Church UCC for Amnesty International and Women Against Military Madness's "Ending Torture Now Town Hall Forum."

Joining Representative Ellison were panel moderator David Schultz of Hamline Law School, Doug Johnson, former executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture, and Professor Barbara Frey, director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota. Just days after the tenth anniversary of the elaboration of the torture memos by the Office of White House Counsel, this panel of experts discussed the legacy of Bush administration torture policies.
The panelists noted example after example that showed torture to be not only immoral but ineffective. The United States government has undeniably authorized the use of torture in black sites, in Guantanamo Bay, and in domestic prisons around the country. In light of this, Johnson urged the crowd to "fight this culture of celebrated ignorance" and the "deep belief that my idea is better than empirical fact." To do this, he argued, we must find effective language to engage the broader public in the effort to end torture, including natural rights arguments based in religious and moral traditions. The Golden Rule - treat others as you would have them treat you - is why we need accountability.
Ellison pointed out that "every country has a human rights record to apologize for, so the true mark of a nation that respects human rights is the willingness to confront blemishes and say we can do better--and we can do better." The torture memos signify an era of overblown presidential authority, and that era featured and attempted to justify acts that shock the conscience. He stated further, "It is no shame or dishonor to apologize--it is a shame or dishonor not to apologize."
Professor Frey lauded Representative Ellison's readiness to come forth on this issue: "While it is easy for our elected officials to take a generic stand against torture, very few are pushing for accountability for crimes that have been committed in our name. Representative Ellison is one of those few."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Human Rights Program at the State Fair

statefair.jpgThe Human Rights Program will have a booth in the U of M Building at the State Fair again this year. We'll be there on Thursday, August 23 from 3-9 pm, Friday, August 24 from 9 am-5 pm, and Friday, August 31 from 1-5 pm. Stop by to try your hand at our human rights trivia game for a chance to win some great prizes!

Visit http://www.statefair.umn.edu/ for more information about the University of Minnesota at the State Fair.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Human Rights Program Offers U Student a chance to engage in UN work on small arms

barblaura.jpgThis past July Laura Matson, who is pursuing a joint degree in law and geography, spent two weeks observing United Nations meetings and forging relationships with delegates from around the world. For one week, Laura and Human Rights Program director Barbara Frey were in Geneva to participate in the session of the Human Rights Committee, after which they travelled to New York City to observe the conclusion of negotiations regarding a proposed Arms Trade Treaty.

The UN work is related to Frey's accomplishments as UN special rapporteur on human rights violations committed with small arms and light weapons. See the Small Arms Principles here. The July trip allowed Laura to witness firsthand the complex world of UN advocacy.
During the last academic year, Laura participated in Professor Jennie Green's human rights law clinic, a course that gives students practical advocacy experience on a variety of human rights issues. One focus of the class is to assist in constructing human rights norms regarding small arms and light weapons. Laura and her classmates have worked for the past two years to document the small arms practices of States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to submit reports to the UN Human Rights Committee which monitors compliance with the Covenant. The Human Rights Committee reviews each country's human rights practices approximately every four years. During the review process, non-governmental organizations may submit "shadow" reports to supplement or contradict the country's own reports of human rights treaty compliance. Student in the clinic have prepared seven shadow reports including reports on Kenya and Armenia that were considered in the Committee's July 2012 session. Laura presented the report on Armenia to the Human Rights Committee.
After Professor Frey and Laura Matson concluded their work in Geneva, they travelled to the New York headquarters of the United Nations to observe negotiations in a different process regarding small arms. Throughout July, country delegates from around the world debated language for a binding arms trade treaty that would set limits on the export of arms and munitions in an effort to reduce the flow of weapons to areas suffering conflict and widespread human rights abuses. Professor Frey and Laura observed the treaty negotiations and sat in on meetings with country delegates and NGOs. The small arms conference concluded without agreement on a complete treaty text, and the discussion will likely continue as part of the General Assembly and First Committee. A joint statement offered by over 90 UN Member States noted, with disappointment, the lack of a final outcome at the conference but promised to continue to pursue a robust Arms Trade Treaty that "would bring about a safer world for the sake of all humanity."
For more information on the Human Rights Program's Small Arms and Lights Weapons project, click here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ending Torture Now: Moving Forward by Looking Backwards

torture.jpg On Monday, August 13, Amnesty International and Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) are hosting Congressman Keith Ellison, HRP director Barbara Frey, and former executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture Dog Johnson for a town hall-style discussion around the 10th anniversary of the Bush Justice Department's so-called "torture memos," written by former Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee on August 1, 2002.

In reference to the so-called torture memos, Gary King, spokesperson for Amnesty International, said, "The memos were written to provide a legal fig leaf to hide horrible and often deadly abuses of prisoners, including water-boarding. When they became public, some were rescinded by the Bush administration."
"But to this day," King continued, "Bush administration officials are bragging about our journey into war crimes, and offering to do it again. President Obama has said we did in fact torture people, but none of the policy makers, no one who authorized or ordered torture, has been held accountable. And some of the Bush administration tactics -- for example, secret prisons and rendering prisoners to countries that torture -- may well be continuing under the Obama Administration."
A Town Hall Forum marking the 10 year anniversary of the Torture Memos
Monday August 13th 6:00 - 7:30 pm
Mayflower Church UCC, 106 East Diamond Lake Road, Minneapolis
The forum is free and open to the public to attend and participate. Mayflower Church United Church of Christ (UCC) is located at 106 E. Diamond Lake Rd, Mpls 55419, near 35W and East 54th St. Free off street parking. For more information, contact: Gary King, Amnesty International, 763-571-7696; WAMM, 612-827-5364; or Coleen Rowley 952-393-0914.
Sponsored by Amnesty International, WAMM, Center for Victims of Torture, World Without Genocide