As part of the University's Guy Stanton Ford Lecture Series, author and activist Bryan Stevenson spoke to a full crowd at Northrop Auditorium on issues surrounding contemporary and historical injustice in the legal system of the United States. Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, working primarily to advocate for young children, juveniles, and adults who are facing mandatory life sentences and/or a death penalty.
Earlier this semester, Carrie Oelberger presented her research project called "A Thousand Wildflowers or a Formal Garden? International Grantmaking and the Structuring of Transnational Society" at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The project addresses the way in which foundations disproportionately disperse the majority of their grant money to NGOs in first world countries rather than concentrating on giving money to organizations located in developing countries. She questions if grant giving takes the organized form of a metaphorical garden or if funding is more scattered and diverse, as in a field of wildflowers.
Each spring, the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies celebrate the tremendous work of students in human rights with the Inna Meiman Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to nominate an undergraduate student who has truly been impressive in their human rights work. Self-nominations are also accepted. The awards will be given out at a luncheon ceremony on Friday, May 8th.
Early in March, we welcomed several of the foremost experts and scholars on post-Communist Europe to the University of Minnesota to engage in a three-day discussion about social memories and human rights in the region. Organized within the IAS "Reframing Mass Violence Collaborative" by the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies from March 4-6, scholars from the U of M and other U.S.-based and international institutions engaged in lively exchanges aimed at creating a better understanding surrounding the re-interpretation and reframing of the atrocities and the transitional justice mechanisms adopted afterwards.
As part of the first workshop of the Holocaust, Genocide and Mass Violence Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Group workshop series, Amber Michele, a graduate student in the interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Studies program delivered a talk on "American Islamic Organizations: Response Narrative to Counterterrorism Initiatives." Michele's current research examines how counterterrorism initiatives impact Muslim organizations in America and is particularly interested in examining how the pressure of policing destabilizes Islamic civil society in the U.S. Michel works extensively with local Muslim communities on issues of civil rights, law enforcement and discrimination.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. Continue reading on The Guardian's website.
For years, the Department of Antioquia, Colombia has been torn apart by armed conflict, displacing thousands of its residents. Consequently, many of the children living in the region have suffered from violence, homelessness, sexual exploitation, inadequate housing, and haphazard adoptions in which the state has carelessly placed children in harmful circumstances. Additionally, Antioquia's children have also been impacted by environmental pollution, illegal mining work, lack of access to healthcare, and child marriages. In an attempt to improve the situation in Antioquia, La Alianza submitted a shadow report to the Committee on the Rights of a Child (CRC) with recommendations outlining ways in which the Colombian government can work to advance the rights of children in the region.
Over the past months, the University of Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership has been working on the issue of forced resettlement in Antioquia, Colombia. Legal clinics operating in Medellín and supported by the Partnership have worked with victims who have been forcibly relocated, often as a result of armed conflict. In particular, the clinics have targeted the Colombian state's failure to adopt legislative and administrative measures aimed at protecting the rights of those affected by resettlement. After submitting a petition to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at the end of 2014, the Partnership has recently learned that they will be granted a hearing in Washington DC on March 19th, 2015.
On February 9, the Minnesota International Relations Colloquium hosted a discussion with Séverine Autesserre, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Columbia University, about her recently published book, Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and Everyday Politics of International Intervention (Cambridge University Press, 2014). While Dr. Autesserre specializes in international relations and African studies, her current research examines how everyday elements influence peacebuilding interventions on the ground.
Images of violence have become a constant in international discourse. Videotaped beheadings are used to manipulate outrage. Advocates of global action against the violence in Syria try to raise the stakes with a provocative photo of children in a cage.In the midst of this global debate played out in images, the Holocaust, Genocide and Mass Violence workshop considered the question, what role should photographs of violence play in our own pedagogy? Do photographs assist our understanding of the violence that often at the core of our work or do they just provoke emotions that cloud and confuse our analytical understanding of human rights violations?