Shaping the Global Conversation on Human Rights
The Center seeks to impact and shape the global conversation around key human rights issues, creating forums for discussion to focus attention on emerging developments—including holding two major conferences about the genocide in Darfur, a conference on the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as it opened for signature, and the first major conference on Business and Human Rights held in Washington D.C. The initiatives encompass conferences, workshops, seminars, and expert convenings, as well as service-based and experiential-learning projects, which offer cutting-edge training to legal practitioners, academics, activists and students.
The Center works with teachers and students at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. to support the school’s international law and human rights education programming. Center staff and members of the Student Advisory Board serve as judges for TMA’s annual moot court competition. Last spring, TMA high school students researched and wrote sections of an appellate brief and presented oral arguments on the legality of a drug testing policy. Center staff and students observed the presentations and provided feedback, as well as perspectives about working in human rights and international law. Center faculty and staff also serve as guest lecturers for upper-level honors classes, leading interactive lessons on contemporary human rights issues, such as the rights of migrants.
The Center, in conjunction with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, hosts a series of briefings on selected human rights topics for Congressional staff and summer interns on Capitol Hill. These briefings provide opportunities to learn about key human rights topics from experts in the field and examine how and why these topics are relevant to the work of the U.S. Congress. In addition to introducing Congressional staff and interns to the international human rights legal framework, AUWCL faculty experts have led briefings introducing the law of armed conflict and international criminal law. Briefings have also explored intersections in human rights and international humanitarian law, emerging human rights issues in national security law, freedom of expression in the inter-American human rights system, and accountability for grave human rights abuses.
The Center works with academic institutions and civil society organizations around the world to develop and implement collaborative research projects on emerging human rights issues. In 2016, the Center partnered with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria on a research project which analyzed the human rights implications of the governance and decision making procedures of the international financial regulatory standard setting bodies (SSBs) and of the international financial regulatory standards that they develop. The Centermost recently partnered with the Turkey-based Free Syrian Lawyers Association (FSLA) to conduct comparative legal research on the efficacy of de facto courts and other alternative judicial mechanisms in conflict settings.
Last spring, the Center received funding from the Ford Foundation to continue its work through the Latin American Initiative on Justice, Gender, and Sexuality. The project seeks to expand and strengthen the work of the Latin American Scholars Network (ALAS Network) in the areas of reproductive rights, and gender issues related to transitional justice; increase the knowledge of sexual and reproductive rights as human rights, and of gender and sexual violence among law professors and activists; and mainstream the role of gender and sexuality in issues of transitional justice in Latin America. The Network continues to serve civil society, governments, and academia as a resource for teaching materials and workshops related to reproductive rights, sexuality, and gender, and produced new educational videos and resources.
The Center’s IHL initiative seeks to expand and support the teaching and study of IHL around the world. In 2007, the Center, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), published a groundbreaking study documenting how IHL is taught in law schools throughout the United States. Subsequently, the Center and the ICRC organized a series of workshops for professors to think creatively about their teaching of IHL, to network with and support each other, and to collaborate to create scholarship and to educate the next generation of lawyers working on issues of IHL. Most recently, the Center, together with the American Society of International Law (ASIL), launched a Student Writing Competition, which is designed to enhance scholarship and understanding among students in this important area of international law.