February 2009 Archives

PaChia Yang reports on the consultation with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, James Anaya and the gripping testimonies given by local Hmong residents affected by the exhumation of their relative’s graves at Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand.

Grief Renewed for Hmong

Reporter Jean Hopfensperger writes on the hearing presented before the UN expert, James Anaya, addressing the exhumed graves of local Hmong family members in Thailand. This special hearing was prompted by a complaint written by the Human Rights Program on behalf of the Hmong families.

Minnesotans Play a role in Obama's ban on Torture

Reporter Sharon Schmickle writes about the role of Minnesotans, including the Center for Victims of Torture and the Human Rights Program, and their work to ban torture and to repair the credibility of international law as a means to promote human rights.

Undergraduate students in the Human Rights Internship class in the Institute for Global Studies are working to
address and prevent child abduction in South Sudan. The 28 students in the class have are working closely with
board members of Child Protection International, an NGO created in 2008 after their experience on the “Save Yar
Campaign.”

The focus of the work this semester is to encourage universal birth registration in South Sudan. Birth registration
is the first legal acknowledgment of a child’s existence and provides access to immunization, health care, and education. Having a legitimate birth certificate ensures a child’s identity, nationality and name and also protects children
from sexual, economic, and military exploitation. The right to birth register is guaranteed in Article 7 of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is a fundamental step toward protecting children from disappearing
without a trace, as too often happens through inter-tribal abduction and/or enforced military recruitment of children.

"Peace is inextricably linked with equality between women and men, and with development…If women are to play an equal part in securing and maintaining peace, they must be empowered politically and economically and represented adequately at all levels of decision-making." (from Summary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action)

Inspired by the 1995 U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, our 14th Annual International Women’s Day event is designed to celebrate the diversity of Minnesota women and increase understanding and tolerance in our community; to encourage activism; and to highlight human rights issues that affect women and girls locally, nationally and internationally. This year’s event includes a focus on women and war – how armed conflict impacts women’s lives and how women play a critical role in advancing peace around the world. We welcome University of Minnesota Law School Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, who will provide a global perspective on international policies and practices on women in conflict and post-conflict situations, and Fahima Vorgetts, long-time activist on behalf of women in her home country, Afghanistan, and director of the Afghan Women’s Fund. Their presentation will include a discussion of the effectiveness of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) as they relate to women, war, sexual violence, and peace-building.

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Fahima Vorgetts in Afghanistan

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