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.
On Friday, September 27 Professor Emeritus Herman Schwartz was recognized for his world-renowned legal legacy during “A Global Lawyer: A Symposium Celebrating the Contributions of Herman Schwartz to the Rule of Law.” Professor Schwartz’s distinguished career has focused attention on the cause of human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law. From the UN to Helsinki Watch, and from Israel and Eastern Europe to the United States, his work on emerging democracies, constitutional reform, and rule of law has inspired a generation of students, scholars, and practitioners to engage in this important work. The day-long symposium was followed by a private dinner honoring Professor Schwartz, featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In her remarks before the crowd of nearly 200 guests, Justice Ginsburg recalled many of the ways Professor Schwartz’s distinguished career has focused attention on human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of the law both in the U.S. and around the world. During the dinner, a congressional citation of merit was presented by Emeritus Professor and Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md).Read more
The Network of Scholars on Gender, Sexuality and the Law (ALAS), together with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and the Center for Human Rights &amp;amp;amp;amp; Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law, invited activists, practitioners, scholars, and judges interested in gender equality and ending gender-based violence to submit individual abstracts for a conference titled, Global Transformation towards Gender Equality and Agenda 2030: A conversation about innovative approaches to break the cycle of violence against women.Read more
The Center worked 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. 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 served 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, regularly 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. In 2017, the Center 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.
Each spring, the Center organizes a team for the International Day of Crisis moot court competition in Paris. AUWCL is the first and only American team to be invited to participate in the competition, organized by the Universite de Paris Nanterre, in collaboration with the international law firm of Simmons &amp;amp;amp;amp; Simmons. The 2019 team took home first prize for best negotiations.