2012 Human Rights Conference: Refugee & Migrant Rights
April 19-20, 2012 Webster University Center, Saint Louis, MO
Children with milk ration at Mesa Grande Refugee Camp in Honduras. Photograph © Bill Barrett
The 2011-2012 YIHR theme, refugee and migrant rights, was selected because 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a treaty that formalizes the rights of individuals fleeing persecution. The 1951 Convention complements the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the principal agency responsible for finding durable solutions to the plight of the world’s refugees. Durable solutions include the assimilation of refugees within countries of first asylum, voluntary repatriation to their home countries, or resettlement in third countries.
The 2012 conference explored the contemporary refugee situation, as well as related migration issues. The needs of individuals in refugee-like situations, such as those who are internally displaced or are fleeing general violence, civil war, extreme poverty, or natural disaster were also examined. The conference incorporated a combination of expert panels, workshops, breakout sessions, and speakers to address the many facets and challenges of the global refugee situation.
Click here to view confernce outcomes.
2012 Human Rights Conference: Refugee & Migrant Rights
Tentative Schedule of Events
Webster University-St. Louis
Sunnen Lounge- University Center*
April 19-20, 2012
Click here for printable schedule
Thursday, April 19, 2012
2:00- 2:15 Introduction to the conference-Dr. Elizabeth Sausele, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (IHRHS) Fellow; Presidential Welcome-Dr. Elizabeth Stroble;
Short video: Living Saint Louis-Refugees
2:15-3:15 Plenary #1: Larry Yungk, Senior Resettlement Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugee Protection Framework, History and Evolution
3:30-4:15 Plenary #2: Anna Crosslin, President of the International Institute of Saint Louis, Resettlement in Saint Louis
4:15-5:30 Panel Discussion: Coming to St. Louis: Snapshots of the Refugee Experience in Three Eras
Guenter Goldsmith, Germany, 1941
Alma Imsirevic. Bosnia.1990's.
Ahmad Farid Barekzai. Afghanistan, 2000.
Chair- Dr. Warren Rosenblum, Associate Professor, Department of History Politics and International Relations, Webster University; IHRHS Fellow
5:30-7:00 Reception: UC Commons. Wine and cheese and an exhibit featuring the photography of Professor Bill Barrett, Electronic and Photographic Media Department, Webster University; IHRHS Fellow
7:00-8:00 Keynote Address: Ivan Gayton, Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), Delivering Humanitarian Aid to Vulnerable Populations. Introduction by Dr. Julian Schuster, Provost and Senior Vice President. Global Webcast
Friday, April 20, 2012
9:00-9:15 Welcome- Dr. Elizabeth Sausele, IHRHS Fellow
9:15-10:30 Plenary #3: Dr. Alison Mountz, Canada Research Chair in Global Migration, Balsillie School of International Affairs & Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Enforcement Archipelagos and the Shrinking Space of Asylum
10:30 -11:45 Breakout Sessions
- Immigration and Human Rights in 19th Century Saint Louis. Dr. Kristen Anderson, Department of History, Politics and International Relations, Webster University
- Education Issues for Refugees: Global and Local Perspectives. Presented by Refugee and Immigrant Consortium Education Committee. Chair, Dr. Debbie Stiles, Applied Educational Psychology (and Emphasis in Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families), Webster University
- "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses ... (well maybe not all of them) - Immigration in America Today." Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney and Founding Board Member, Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates
12:00-1:00 On the Move Performances by Professor Beckah Reed and Emerging Webster Dance Majors and Choreographers *Lunch will be provided*
1:15- 3:15 Plenary # 4
Introduction by Dean Wilson.
Bill Frelick, Refugee Program Director, Human Rights Watch, Fortress Europe: Migration Controls and Access to Asylum in the EU
Dr. Peter Van Krieken, Professor, Webster University –Leiden, IHRHS Fellow, Is the EU Breaching International Law?
Question and Answer Session
3:30-4:30 Roundtable: The Nexus between Illegal Immigration and Asylum
Anna Crosslin, International Institute of Saint Louis
Bill Frelick, Human Rights Watch
Dr. Alison Mountz, Wilfrid Laurier University
Ivan Gayton, Medecins Sans Frontiers
Larry Yungk, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Chair- Dr. Peter Van Krieken, Professor, Webster University-Leiden, IHRHS Fellow
Conclusion of conference: Dr. Elizabeth Sausele and Dr. Kelly-Kate Pease, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies
Please visit our conference webpage for the most up to date information and schedule, and to pre-register http://www.webster.edu/depts/artsci/coas_site/conference.html
*All events will be held in the Sunnen Lounge unless otherwise specified.
The “Women’s Rights as Human Rights” conference (March 31 and April 1, 2011) linked international human rights to local human rights work. The conference was organized around three of the principal challenges facing women seeking to realize their internationally recognized human rights: access to education, physical security, and economic hardship. The keynote address, given by E. Desmond Lee Professor of Global Awareness Dr. Janaki Rajan, was webcast globally. The conference brought together students, faculty, staff, and members from the local and global community for solutions based sessions to demonstrate that everyone can play a role in protecting and promoting human rights. Over 175 people attended locally and more than 75 participated internationally via the globalwebcast. The global webcast was made possible by Dr. Roy Tamashiro, Ph.D., the Global Forum, and the interactive media staff in the Office of Marketing.
Click here to view conference schedule.
||Dr. Janaki Rajan, the 2011 E. Desmond Lee Professor for Global Awareness. Dr. Rajan addressed our global audience on women’s issues related to access to education in India.
||Professor Julie Mertus, J.D., of the American University, challenged us with the realities of physical security for women, using readings from her book, The Suitcase.
||Webster University alumnae, and St. Louis attorney-Mary Ann Sedey, J.D., spoke on the limitations of discrimination law for advancing the economic rights of women. She also explained the latest lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
Keynote speech given by Dr. Janaki Rajan
Click here to view PDF of conference outcomes.
The “Women’s Rights as Human Rights” conference linked international human rights to local human rights work. The conference was organized around three of the principal challenges facing women seeking to realize their internationally recognized human rights: access to education, physical security, and economic hardship. The keynote address, given by E. Desmond Lee Professor of Global Awareness Dr. Janaki Rajan, was webcast globally. Webster students around the world were able to chat live with each other and submit questions. The conference brought together students, faculty, staff, and members from the local and global community for solutions-based sessions to demonstrate that everyone can play a role in protecting and promoting human rights, even in their own backyard.
Reflections from Conference Chair, Dr. Elizabeth Sausele
Elizabeth Sausele is a fellow of the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies and a professor in the Human Rights Program at Webster University.
It was my privilege to chair the 2011 Human Rights Conference—Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Education—Security—Economics. This third annual human rights conference at Webster University was a collaborative effort of the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, and Center for International Education. For the first time, our international campuses in Thailand, Geneva, London, Vienna, and Leiden were able to participate in the conference through a global webcast. Students around the world were able to engage in discussion and form watch parties on their home campuses, all the while connecting through real time through an on-line chat forum.
The 2010-2011 Year in Human Rights theme at Webster University has been focused around the theme that women’s rights are human rights. Through a common reading, Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, campus speakers, discussion groups, and various other activities, the University was able to delve into international human rights and particularly into women’s rights. The Conference provided an opportunity for in- depth analysis on three of the principle challenges women encounter in their quest to fully enjoy their international human rights. These challenges are:
- access to education
- physical security, and
- economics rights
During the two day conference, we focused on these broad global issues through plenary addresses. The plenary speaker’s talks were directly followed by breakout sessions where the global realities of women’s rights were recognized in local contexts. Three plenary speakers introduced us to the worldwide realities:
- Dr. Janaki Rajan, the 2011 E. Desmond Lee Professor for Global Awareness. Dr. Rajan addressed our global audience on women’s issues related to access to education in India.
- Professor Julie Mertus, J.D., of the American University, challenged us with the realities of physical security for women, using readings from her book, The Suitcase.
- Webster University alumnae, and St. Louis attorney- Mary Anne Sedey, spoke on the economic rights of women, and also explained the latest lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
The plenary speakers were followed by solutions-based breakout sessions. The breakout sessions involved a respected group of advocates who were able to demonstrate how to get involved in actively responding to human rights abuses against women. They were exemplary models of people who not only understand the worldwide realities of human rights abuses, but are also actively responding to these issues. They were extraordinary models of how to turn knowledge into action, and to begin a discussion, one that would last far beyond the Conference.
In these two short days, the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies was able to inform and challenge the constituency of the Webster University community. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators learned together at this event, and were introduced to local human rights advocates who are actively involved the St. Louis area and far beyond. As an institution committed to making human rights a priority, the Women’s Rights as Human Rights Conference continued to stretch us corporately and individually to advance the rights of all people.
Breakout Session Summaries from Moderators
Educating Underserved Populations. Stephanie M. Krauss, President/CEO. Shearwater Education Foundation, St. Louis, MO.
Moderator: Don Conway-Long, Ph.D.
Stephanie Krauss created a foundation to serve at-risk urban youth in facilitating their completion of high school to get into college.
Stephanie herself was an impoverished at-risk teen, who came from a small town, and a family of alcoholics. Stephanie dropped out of school to work. Somehow, she found the support at 15 to go to a drug & alcohol treatment center in Florida. This decision got her back on her feet. When she was at the treatment center, she was encouraged to finish her GED and go to college. She graduated at 18. After graduation she went into Teach for America, obtained two masters degrees; one in education, one in Social work, and used her intelligence to return to work with St. Louis urban drop-outs.
Stephanie said during her session that anyone who wishes to return something to society and help those who need it should first think strategically about getting involved in urban education. Her question became, “What are the unmet education needs of the neediest of at-risk kids?” Her answer: find the most disenfranchised, and serve them. As she was getting her MSW at Washington University, she began talking to those in the city about what was really needed. Through her experience, she learned that education is key for development.
Stephanie also learned that one half of high school students in St. Louis, Missouri do not graduate. In fact, in all 50 of the largest cities in America, about 50% of high school students do not graduate from high school. Clearly, this is an unmet need. Stephanie asks, “How can we prepare these students for college that were failed by the system as it exists now? These kids lives are at stake.” Two-thirds of current jobs require at least a 2-year college degree. In ten years, when today’s students who have dropped out of school reach their late 20s, 90% of jobs will require a 2-4-year college degree. So the uneducable become unemployable, and remain a mass of unused, unemployed, people.
This knowledge lead to the creation of Shearwater, an organization which focuses on the 10,000 high school dropouts across Saint Louis. A portrait of her target population comprises of pregnant girls, youth offenders, homeless people, very poor, care-takers of the aged, those with learning differences and disabilities, LGBT kids (who often fit the previous groups).
The process behind Shearwater is to find out what has and has not worked; collaborate with what is available to rebuild these students’ lives, find the gap in services and fill it. Her goal is to link kids up with services that provide transportation, child-care, shelter, health care, and food. She has hired a staff who care, who have an intuitive awareness of these kids’ real needs. All of these things are connected, and education is a key goal, but it must remain in the context of these other life issues. She says that partnering with the other agencies and providers is a primary daily engagement. As a new youth enters the program, the staff triage all her or his needs, figure out how to get those needs met as one works to provide the education the student needs. Their goal is to utilize work-based learning as much as possible .
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education. Dr. Brenda Fyfe, Dean of the School of Education, Webster University, St. Louis, MO.
Moderator: Kate Parsons, Ph.D.
Dr. Brenda Fyfe’s presentation, “The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education,” offered a concrete example of the conference’s keynote claim that “rights generate rights.” Fyfe began by noting that this educational method, started in Reggio Emilia, Italy, after World War II, emerged through a grassroots women’s movement that argued for quality child care as a right and not merely a need. This movement helped translate the rights of women for quality care into to the rights of children to quality education.
In her talk, Fyfe explained how the claim that education is a right (for all, infant-toddlers and preschoolers included) correlates to community responsibilities. By consistently linking their educational approach to the values of freedom, democracy, and the promotion of peace, the teachers who developed the curriculum have successfully galvanized their community to dedicate an astounding 12% of the city’s budget to public education. The appeal to these values is not mere rhetoric, but rather is implemented intentionally and thoughtfully in the Reggio Emilia curriculum. Principles include:
Children are active protagonists of their own growth and development processes
- The hundred languages
- Learning as a process of individual and group construction
- Educational Research
- Educational documentation
- Environment, spaces, and relations
- Professional development
Fyfe discussed several of these principles in detail. For the first principle to be carried out, children’s autonomy must be fostered, and parents must take an active role in their children’s education, as well. Teachers give parents the “raw data” from the classroom experience—accounts of what their children are doing and how their children are learning individually and in group experiences on a daily basis—and then parents and teachers work together, constructively and collectively, formulating projections about future learning experiences that respond directly to children’s ideas and current schemas of thinking, while also collaborating and negotiating with children to explore concepts and skills that are valued and deemed critical by the community for children’s future development (e.g. logical-mathematical knowledge, social relationships and consideration of the perspectives of others, physical knowledge, and representational thinking and communication). The “Hundred Languages” of children recognizes the right of children to communicate, not merely through verbal skills (as they are still developing this ability), but also through other means of self-expression, with a special emphasis on the arts. In the Reggio Emilia Pedagogy of Listening, particular attention is paid to strengthening the voices of all participants in the school by actively responding to one another’s needs and desires (a pedagogy that is implemented in peer-to-peer and also teacher-to-student relationships). And in conceiving of learning as involving group construction, Reggio Emilia students learn to conceive of themselves as responsible to others (not merely to themselves), and also to nature, in enhancing the learning process. These are just some of the ways in which the principles of Reggio Emilia connect with peace-making as a value, with the promotion of participatory democracies, and the reinforcement of non-hierarchical thinking.
Serving Survivors of Rape as a Weapon of War. Jean Abbot &/or Davorka Marovic- Johnson Center for Survivors of War and Trauma, St. Louis, MO.
Moderator: Dan Hellinger, Ph.D.
Jean Abbott works with survivors at the St. Louis-based Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma (CSTWT). CSTWT defines its mission as “facilitating the healing process of refugee and immigrant survivors of torture and war by providing culturally appropriate holistic mental health services.”
Whereas much of the conference dealt with conflict resolution, international law, and gender issues, this workshop dealt more with the process of healing, as best one can, the human, psychological wounds left by sexual violence and torture. Victims of sexual violence and torture are not limited to women. Men are also affected by being forced to participate in or witness such violence, or they may be directly targeted for it.
Ms. Abbot’s work in this field began in the 1980s when she worked in a St. Louis organizations that provided accompaniment for human rights workers threatened in Guatemala and also participated in the movement to provide sanctuary for those threatened by the US with expulsion and, as a result, death in their home countries of Central America. It was in the latter work that she discovered the deep wounds left in the psyche of a man whose violent treatment of his wife could be traced back to his own victimization.
The workshop proceeded to:
- briefly review the prevalence of sexual violence in war and conflicts throughout the world
- distinguish sexual violence from other forms of violence, as well as how and why it is used
- express the difficulty in identifying victims because of stigma and reluctance to come forward
- the expectations that both healer and victim can have of treatment
- the crucial and difficult role of interpreters, who may have issues of their own
- the even more crucial role of establishing a sense of safety for the victim in therapy
- the importance of understanding the cultural context to “inform and support” the therapeutic process
- symptoms associated with sexual trauma, including intrusive memories and avoidance/numbing
- the importance and difficult process of establishing trust between the healer and victim
- the elements of “cognitive behavior influenced therapy” in healing.
- the importance of “mindfulness,” referring to staying present in pain, supporting the mind’s ability to process painful elements of the past, exposing them to reduce their sting.
- the importance for the therapist to keep the work from becoming overwhelming even as s/he tries to help the client to see that memories of the past are mainly distracting and delusive in the present
The presence and testimony of several individuals who have been helped by the Center greatly contributed to the experience of all who attended.
Human Trafficking, Suzanne LeLaurin, Sr. VP International Institute and Head Regional Rescue and Restore Coalition, St. Louis, MO.
Moderator: Paul Moriarty, Ph. D.
Suzanne LeLaurin, a senior Vice President of the International Institute of St. Louis and the founder of the St. Louis Rescue & Restore Coalition, gave an excellent overview of human trafficking as a global issue and as it applies here in St. Louis. She described why people are trafficked, what the different cases of trafficking all have in common that make them cases of trafficking, how trafficking is different from human smuggling, and what legal remedies are available for people who have been trafficked.
People are trafficked for a variety of reasons: domestic servitude, forced prostitution, mail order (or email order) brides, forced surrogacy, factory work, international adoptions, agricultural work, criminal activity, restaurant work, construction, hotel/motel housekeeping, etc. All of these cases of human trafficking share three common elements: (1) a process – something is done to the person; she/he is recruited, harbored, moved, or obtained; (2) involuntary means – force, fraud, or coercion; and (3) the end of some form of involuntary servitude (debt bondage, slavery, sexual exploitation). In other words, something is being done to a person, without their voluntary consent, to manipulate them into a form of involuntary labor. People who are smuggled voluntarily across international borders are not victims of human trafficking. As long as the smuggling does not involve coercion or forced labor, it is not human trafficking. There are a number of legal avenues available to the survivors of trafficking, including the possibility of obtaining a T-visa by which a person is classified as a victim of trafficking according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
Among the questions which were asked by the audience: Is there any evidence of organ trafficking in St. Louis? Answer: No, we do not have any evidence that people have been trafficked in St. Louis for their organs. Another question from the audience: How does the St. Louis Rescue & Restore Coalition find survivors of human trafficking? Answer: Most survivors are referred to them by law enforcement officers – ICE, FBI, or local police.
Equal Pay for Equal Work. Kevin P. Miller, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the United Nations Association- St. Louis Mary T. Hall Fund.
Moderator: Amanda Rosen, Ph.D.
In the 'Equal Work for Equal Pay' session, Dr. Kevin Miller expanded upon the themes of the plenary session to discuss the nature and sources of the gender gap in employment as well as possible remedies. The gender gap is real and pervasive, stretching across occupations, and many of its causes are systemic, thanks to a system that punishes those who leave the workplace for extended periods of time--something that women, who disproportionately care for children and aging adults, are more likely to do. This leads to less time spent in the workplace as well as reduced time in a particular job, both of which lead to wage gaps. Other sources of the gender gap include self selection into fields that pay less and unconscious biases and outright discrimination that can lead to poorer performance on evaluations and promotion decisions. As remedies, Dr. Miller suggested open publication of salaries, public policies that aim at gender equality both through regulation and incentive structures, and institutional adjustments that structure family-friendly work environments. The discussion concluded that this is a multifaceted issue which must be tackled through several different complementary approaches.
Microfinance Loans. Heather Cammarata, Executive Director, Micro financing Partners in Africa, St. Louis, MO and Susan Saiyiorri, National Outreach Manager, JamiiBora Trust, Nairobi, Kenya.
Moderator: Allan MacNeill, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Curran of Microfinancing Partners in Africa (MPA) began the discussion by presenting a brief overview of microfinance, an economic development strategy aimed at alleviating poverty and empowering women in developing countries. Microfinance organizations provide small loans and financial services primarily to women with very low incomes. Because they are extremely poor, the women are not required to put up collateral for the loan. Instead, the loans are made to groups of women who are collectively responsible for each member’s debts. The loans are used to create and sustain income-generating activities and small businesses.
Maria Sennett explained the moral philosophy behind microfinance and the ideas of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. According to his principle of “just” credit, borrowers should be treated as whole human beings, as persons to be treated with fairness and dignity. In practice, just credit means charging fair interest rates, offering reasonable payback terms, and providing business support and training.
MPA raises funds in the U.S. that are used to support specific microfinance partner organizations in Africa. Currently they have partner organizations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Elizabeth and Maria provided details on one of their most successful and intriguing programs—the “living loan” project in Uganda. Participants in this program undergo two years of training in which they learn about sanitation and sustainable grazing practices. After successfully completing the training they receive a “loan” of a (pregnant) cow. Families earn income by selling the milk produced by the cow, and they pay back the loan by raising the calf for a year before passing it along to the next family in the program.
MPA’s partner in Kenya is the Jamii Bora Trust, a microfinance organization founded by Ingrid Munro, a Swedish woman who moved to Kenya after adopting a boy there, and 50 beggar women. Susan Saiyiorri, the trust’s national outreach manager, spoke movingly of “Mama Ingrid’s” journey to Africa and her realization that efforts to improve the lives of Kenyan women through charity failed to raise them out of poverty. Mama Ingrid’s frustration eventually led her to retire from charitable work. She was forced to reconsider when one of the villagers asked: “how can a mother retire?” She agreed to return to work, but this time she would try another approach: microfinance. In an attempt to build self-confidence and financial awareness, the women formed a group and started to save money, putting away small amounts each week until they had raised $100. With some additional money Ingrid was able to raise, the Jamii Bora Trust was established. Today, the trust has grown to over 300,000 members and 86 branches that offer savings accounts, health insurance, and microcredit loans (the average loan is about $30 but can be as small as $.50). They also offer mortgage loans and financial education classes.
Ms. Saiyiorri’s stories of the origin and growth of Jamii Bora were incredibly powerful and moving. They were also deeply personal. She spoke of her own difficult and complicated efforts to make a living, having survived an abusive husband and a failed attempt to start her own business raising chickens. By joining the trust, Susan gained confidence, a financial education, and a support network. She eventually got a job with them and is now their national outreach manager in the United States. Her story is not unique: Jamii Bora’s entire staff is recruited from their members, a policy that insures that the staff understands the borrower’s living conditions.
Susan concluded her talk on an inspirational note, speaking with pride of the number of beggars turned into entrepreneurs and thousands of others who have become financially self-sufficient through their involvement in the Jamii Bora Trust. There were so many questions and comments for Ms. Saiyiorri that the session ran well over its allotted time.
From Poverty to Prosperity: The Blessing Basket Project. Theresa Wilson, The Blessing Basket Project. Granite City, IL.
Moderator: Sarita Cargas, D. Phil.
Theresa Wilson is the courageous woman behind the Blessing Basket Project. She has given up an award-winning career as a TV producer in order to help people in developing nations. She is responsible for changing the lives of hundreds of people who have benefitted from her trademarked “prosperity wage”.
After literally filling her own basket with the written well wishes, e.g. blessings, from people who helped Theresa and her children through a rough period in their lives, Theresa began selling baskets to others. She decided she didn’t want to purchase the baskets from companies in China that were sold to her through middlemen. She wanted to directly employ people to make the baskets.
Theresa and her project pay prosperity wages, which means that they are paid fair wages intended to substantially improve their economic situation. Her organization has learned that the basket makers who invest their earnings in three other enterprises prove able to pull themselves out of poverty. Prosperity wages are often 2.5 times fair trade wages and in Bangladesh it is 8 times fair trade wages.
In April of 2004 she established the Blessing Basket Project. By November ’04 the first Whole Foods began selling the baskets. Theresa now sells in over 100 stores. Her basket makers are in six countries. By 2009, the Project earned the weavers two million dollars. She reported that before the Project came into their lives only 10% of the weavers could afford more than one meal a day, now 95% eat three meals a day. Only one in four of their children could attend school, now three out of four of their children attend school.
In her presentation, Theresa offered tips for human rights activism. They included the importance of courage and treating people with dignity. She advocated admitting what you don’t know and surrounding yourself with people who do.
Throughout the well orchestrated presentation (evidence of her past in TV), she shared video clips of the weavers talking about the Blessing Basket Project’s effect on their lives. Many of these clips can be seen on her website: blessingbasketproject.com.
Reactions from Webster faculty, staff, students, and community on the conference:
…I particularly liked the format of a major speaker followed by break-out sessions. With such a broad topic, this format allowed for even more learning. I hope to apply what I learned to work in non-profits and the arts.
Just a word to say how really wonderful I thought this year's Human Rights conference was. I have been to many of these conferences and this was by far the best designed using the break-out groups... a wonderful idea. I really took away many great stories and ideas for my
own involvement and to use in class. I have told at least 5 or 6 people (not in IRL or HR studies) about some of the information and personal stories I heard at the conference...they were as moved as I was... Thanks for such a great opportunity...
“A stance taken for women’s rights is a stance taken for human rights.” This quote was easily the most memorable moment at the entire conference. It was said by the conference’s keynote speaker, Janaki Rajan …..I am under the impression that there will progressively be less and less gender bias throughout the world as times goes on, and we have motivating and eye-opening conferences like this one to partially thank for that.
-Kathleen Alexander, Webster University student
Women's Rights in International Law
The following is a selection of relevant human rights, humanitarian, and criminal law pertaining to women's rights. This list is not exhaustive.
Click here to view PFD of international law pertaining to women's rights.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948)
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960)
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "discrimination" includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference which, being based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth, has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality or treatment in education [...].
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966)
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right:
(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
(d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989), entered into force Sept. 2 1990.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979)
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women […].
Millennium Development Goals (MDG) UN General Assembly (2000)
Target 2.A: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
Target 3.A: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
3.1 Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
3.2 Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
3.3 Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament
European Convention on Human Rights, Protocol 1, art. 2 (2006)
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) (Gen. Assembly resolution 48/104)
Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:
(a)Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b)Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
Geneva Convention (IV) (Geneva) (1949)
Part. 3, Article 27
Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1991) (ICTY)
Crimes against humanity:
The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following crimes when committed in armed conflict, whether international or internal in character, and directed against any civilian population:
(g ) Rape;
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1994) (ICTR)
Crimes against humanity:
The International Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following crimes when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population on national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds:
( g) Rape;
These violations shall include, but shall not be limited to:
( e ) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault;
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002)
1. For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
( g ) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
(vi) Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in article 7, paragraph 2 ( f ), enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence also constituting a serious violation of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions;
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1999)
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (Gen. Assembly Res. 48/104) (1993)
Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol--Palermo Convention (Convention against Transnational Organized Crime) (Palermo) (2003)
States Parties shall establish comprehensive policies, programmes and other measures:
(a) To prevent and combat trafficking in persons; and
(b) To protect victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, from revictimization.
Council of Europe: Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2003)
Council of Europe: Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (2007)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR) (1948)
1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
General Conference of the International Labour Organization, Equal Remuneration Convention (1951)
Each Member shall, by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining rates of remuneration, promote and, in so far as is consistent with such methods, ensure the application to all workers of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.
Declaration on the Right to Development (UN Gen. Assembly Res. 41/128) (1986)
1. The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.
2. The human right to development also implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes, subject to the relevant provisions of both International Covenants on Human Rights, the exercise of their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:
(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:
(i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;
(ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (UN Gen. Assembly Res.)(CEDAW) (1979)
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:
(a) The right to family benefits;
(b) The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit; (c) The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.