Columbia Law School Holds Fifth Annual Human Rights Student Paper Symposium
April 15, 2021, New York - Columbia Law School students presented fresh perspectives on human rights law, advocacy, and theory at the March 19th Human Rights Paper Symposium. This day-long event, which fosters student scholarship and stimulates debate on human rights challenges and opportunities, was co-organized by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute (HRI) and Human Rights Clinic, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Rightslink, and the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.
The virtual symposium featured 34 presenters and commenters, and audience members tuned in from around the globe. “Every year, student authors display innovation and intellect, and this year’s students continued to raise the bar,” said the Assistant Director of Programs at HRI, Jessica Pierson. “The papers were forward-thinking, creative, and well-researched, and each of our practitioner and academic commentators offered invaluable insights from their work in the field.”
Seventeen student authors presented papers grappling with human rights issues ranging from digital rights and the impact of technology in conflict to the rights of vulnerable groups such as refugees, tribal law, reproductive justice and sexual violence, and racial justice and police brutality. Students explored contemporary themes in human rights theory and practice, while grounding their inquiries in history and offering solutions for the future.
Presentations were followed by commentary from academics and practitioners affiliated with EarthRights International, NYU’s Technology Law and Policy Clinic, Interpeace USA, Open Society Foundations Public Health Program, the Amsterdam Center for International Law, and the Security, Research and Information Center. Columbia Faculty joined HRI’s Faculty Co-Directors, staff from our Security Force Monitor, TrialWatch, and HRI’s project on War Crimes and Mass Graves as commenters. Feedback aimed to aid students as they develop papers for publication.
“This year’s Human Rights Paper Symposium was a great opportunity to engage with innovative ideas in the area of human rights law and advocacy,” said Yaron Covo, JSD, who presented his paper, “Reverse Mainstreaming,” on education and disability rights. “Not only did I receive invaluable feedback on my paper, but I also learned a lot from the presentations of my peers.”
Additional student presenters at the Symposium included Richard Ong (2L), Anita Kapyur (3L), Austin Collier (3L), Natalie Chu Sin Ping (LLM), Anivesh Bharadwaj (LLM), Tolu Sogade (1L), Natasha Almanzar-Sanchez (1L), Bridgett McCoy (2L), Ali Dawud (LLM), Sania Anwar (LLM), Kim Mejía-Cuéllar (3L), Rosario Grima Algora (LLM), Rachel Rein (2L), Nausherwan Ahmed Aamir (1L), Emily Drake (2L), and Shant Eulmessekian (1L).
From Columbia University, this year’s academic commenters included Yasmine Ergas, Director, Gender and Public Policy, Lecturer, Discipline of International and Public Affairs, and Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights Program in Gender and Human Rights, School of Public and International Affairs; Andrew Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science. From Columbia Law School, commenters included Kayum Ahmed, Director, Access and Accountability Division, Open Society Foundations Public Health Program and Lecturer in Law; Jessica Bulman-Pozen, Betts Professor of Law; Sarah Cleveland, Faculty co-Director, Human Rights Institute and Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights; Sarah Knuckey, Faculty co-Director, Human Rights Institute, Lieff Cabraser Clinical Professor of Law, and Director, Human Rights Clinic; Katharina Pistor, Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law; David Pozen, Vice Dean for Intellectual life and Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law; Gabor Rona, Lecturer in Law; Graeme Simpson, Director, Interpeace USA, Senior Adviser to the Director-General, Interpeace, and Lecturer in Law; and Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law and Co-Founder & Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture.
Human rights practitioners who joined as commenters were Benjamin Hoffman, Supervising Attorney, EarthRights International; Patryk Labuda, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Amsterdam Law School, Amsterdam Center for International Law; Christopher Morten, Deputy Director, NYU Law’s Technology Law and Policy Clinic, Fellow at the Engelberg Center; Singo Mwachofi, Deputy Director, Security, Research, and Information Center; Anjli Parrin, Associate Director, Project on War Crimes and Mass Graves, Human Rights Institute; and Tony Wilson, Founder and Director, Security Force Monitor, Human Rights Institute.
The day included seven panels that were moderated by L.L.M. Human Rights Fellows, HRI Staff, and student group representatives. Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Anahi Mendoza delivered opening remarks. Closing remarks were shared by Emilie Klovning, Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. The full program is available here.
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The Human Rights Institute advances international human rights through education, advocacy, fact-finding, research, scholarship, and critical reflection. It works in partnership with advocates, communities, and organizations pushing for social change to develop and strengthen the human rights legal framework and mechanisms, promote justice and accountability for human rights violations, and build and amplify collective power.
Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin as the anchor for human rights within Columbia Law School, the Human Rights Institute promotes engagement and knowledge of human rights within the law school, throughout the University, and around the world. Across the many substantive areas of its work, the Institute builds bridges between scholarship and activism, develops capacity within the legal community, engages governments, and models new strategies for progress.
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