In the upcoming months, the human rights record of the United States will come under scrutiny by several U.N. monitoring bodies, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee against Torture, and the Human Rights Council. These mechanisms provide a consolidated period of opportunity for advocacy on a range of human rights issues occurring in the U.S. or being carried out by U.S. officials abroad.
In June the Human Rights Program and our many partners at the University of Minnesota and in Antioquia that comprise our Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership (or "Alianza") bid farewell to our esteemed Clinical Coordinator, Diana Patricia Quintero. Diana was deeply engaged with the development of the Alianza starting in October of 2012 and has been a key contributor ever since. Her efforts on the project focused mainly on enhancing the capacity for human rights legal clinical work at the four Antioquia schools engaged in the Partnership. In particular, she focused on providing the schools with resources and support to advance methodology and pedagogy in the areas of strategic litigation on behalf of vulnerable communities, individual case acceptance and advocacy, and community outreach and education on behalf of vulnerable populations.
The Human Rights Program is thrilled to announce Jason Zencka--an MFA candidate in fiction writing at the University of Minnesota-- as a 2014 Scribe for Human Rights. The goal of the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship is to use creative narrative to reflect the different faces of victims of human rights abuses and to provide a broader array of professional experience to graduate student writers. It tries to create a platform for human rights advocacy through creative art.
The Human Rights Program continues to stay updated with the events occurring in South Sudan, a conflicted region where the HRP has carried out human rights work in the past. Read about HRP's past work with Child Protection International and its Save Yar Campaign. Six months into the civil war in South Sudan, the crisis continues to intensify despite peace overtures made far away from the front lines in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. A fragile peace agreement signed last month between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President turned rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar, has not yet been fully implemented. A report published by the Enough Project presents a guide to the fundamental issues that must be addressed to end South Sudan's new civil war and establish peace and security. The report draws on a wealth of research and analysis from policy and advocacy groups, South Sudanese intellectuals and civil society, and Enough Project conversations over the past six months. Read the report.
Reports in the media show that staff at the Manus Island, Papua New Guinea detention centre, run by the Australian Government, are pressuring Syrian asylum seekers to return to Syria where they will be in extreme danger. Read more on the Amnesty International website.
Over the course of this past year, the Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership has working to develop access to Spanish-language materials through the Online Human Rights Library. The online library is a great way for the partnership to share information pertinent to Colombia, human rights issues, vulnerable groups, human rights institutions, among humanitarian law, and among other important topics, in a very user-friendly way.
On April 16, 17 & 19, the U of M held a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The commemoration began with the public conference, Genocide and its Aftermath: Lessons from Rwanda, featuring an opening address by Taylor Krauss, founder of Voices of Rwanda, an organization dedicated to filming testimonies of Rwandans to inspire a global sense of responsibility to prevent atrocities.
One of the major accomplishments of the UMN - Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership thus far has been the work done in regards to the joint clinical cases that both the Colombian universities and the University of Minnesota have been working on, in particular the ongoing case of La Picacha.
Within the country of Colombia, the state of Antioquia, and the city of Medellin, La Picacha is a very large river, which since 2011 has flooded annually, leaving the city residents of Medellin at great risk, particularly in the neighborhoods of Altarista, Belén, and Laureles-Estadio.
The cooperative clinical case undertaken by the partners included in the project aims to raise awareness to the problem occurring in the communities effected by the flooding, as well as object to a mandate court order, which will be explained in further detail later in this piece.
Gabriel Gómez is a professor at the University of Antioquia (U de A) whose invaluable insight and leadership has been an important contribution to the University of Minnesota - Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership. Learn more about the partnership. In the dynamic international collaboration to develop human rights curriculum, Gabriel's input has enriched the conversation and the project as a whole through his focus on network-building, sustainability, and the enhancement of interdisciplinary human rights study.
It's a crucial time for Colombia with presidential elections slated for this Sunday and ongoing peace talks between the government and FARC guerrillas continuing in Havana, Cuba. In a new Intercross video, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Bogotá, Jordi Raich, says Colombia is at a crossroads -- poised on the verge of economic growth, shrinking poverty, and the potential to put an end to half a century of war. Watch the video on the Intercross website.