January 13, 2015 - NEW YORK, NY - On January 13, 2015 Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR, pronounced CLEAR) [formerly Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Program] participated in a panel discussion, with 3 other esteemed speakers, entitled, "Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities: International Law and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)."
Other esteemed speakers included: Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect; Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General for the Prevention of Genocide; and, H.E. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States.
The panel addresses challenges within the existing international legal framework for the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities. The discussion challenged panelists to consider why, nearly a decade after heads of state and government agreed to the principles of R2P, mass atrocities continue across the globe in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and beyond.
More than 75 people attended the two-hour discussion at the New York City Bar Association’s NYC headquarters.
For more information: http://www.auschwitzinstitute.org/nyc-bar-responsibility-to-rebuild/
For an audio recording of the event:https://soundcloud.com/auschwitzinstitute/preventing-genocide-and-mass-atrocities-international-law-and-the-responsibility-to-protect
Op-Ed and Article
Joëlle Fiss, one of the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic's partners, recently published an op-ed in Le Monde on the Charlie Hebdo attacks as it relates to blasphemy laws.
English translation of the article: Le Monde_Anti-blasphemy laws a tool of repression threatening the entire world_ENG.pdf
Fiss has also recently published an article in Libération entitled, "Lois antiblasphème pour mieux persécuter."
Original article in French: http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2015/01/14/lois-antiblaspheme-pour-mieux-persecuter_1179929
English translation of the article: Libération_Blasphemy Laws to Improve Persecution ENG.pdf
Ecuador: Historic Win for Refugee Rights
September 16, 2014 – QUITO, ECUADOR – The Human Rights and Genocide Clinic’s Refugee Representation Project (RRP) celebrated a landmark victory for refugee rights on Friday when Ecuador’s Constitutional Court struck down restrictive provisions of a presidential decree that violated basic rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. In support of the petitioners’ claims, the RRP submitted an amicus brief with Human Rights Watch last June calling on Ecuador to abide by its obligations under constitutional, international human rights and refugee law. Cardozo law students Julie Geifman (Class of 2013), Sara Levine (class of 2013), Diana Duarte (3L), and Anna Maslyanskaya (Class of 2014) all contributed to the RRP’s brief.
In Decision No. 002-0524, the Court declared Articles 27, 33, and 48 of Presidential Decree 1182 unconstitutional, extending the time for individuals to request asylum from 15 days to 3 months and the time to appeal from 3 to 15 days. In addition, the Court modified Article 8’s definition of a refugee to include the Cartagena Declaration of 1984’s expanded content, allowing individuals to be recognized as refugees “because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.”
“This is an important and historic win for refugee rights in Ecuador,” said RRP Associate Director Teresa M. Woods. The Clinic’s Telford Taylor Fellow Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum added: “We are thrilled that our Clinic students were able to contribute to real gains for those fleeing persecution and seeking safety in the region.” Indeed, under these new changes—and closer to Ecuador’s generous past practices and leadership on refugee rights in Latin America—thousands of refugees arriving in Ecuador from Colombia and elsewhere will have greater access to protections under the law.
The RRP’s support to Asylum Access Ecuador (AAE) and University of San Francisco’s litigation was one of several coordinated, collaborative efforts among these institutions to promote and protect refugee rights in Ecuador. In addition to the brief, for example, a group of Cardozo law student volunteer advocates will again travel to Esmeraldas in northern Ecuador over the winter session this year to work directly with refugees seeking asylum in partnership with AAE. Moreover, the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic plans to continue advocacy efforts toward implementing the Court’s favorable ruling and further advancing refugee rights in the region. Such efforts fit squarely within the Clinic’s overall “prevention, protection and rebuilding” framework toward the promotion of human rights and prevention of mass atrocities globally.
For additional press, see:
Ecuador: Amicus Brief on Refugee Rights
June 16, 2014 – NEW YORK, NY – Ecuador should revoke a presidential decree that includes provisions that violate basic rights of refugees provided for by international law, The Refugee Representation Project of the Cardozo Human Rights and Genocide Clinic said today. Working within the clinic’s frame of prevention, protection, and rebuilding, the clinic combines different areas of expertise within human rights law. Refugee issues in Ecuador provided the clinic with an opportunity to effectively utilize this model.
On May 30, 2012, President Rafael Correa adopted Presidential Decree 1182 to regulate asylum procedures in Ecuador, the Latin American country with the largest number of registered refugees – approximately 55,000 in September 2013. On June 16, 2014, the Refugee Representation Project of the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law submitted a joint amicus with Human Rights Watch before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, arguing that the decree violates Ecuador’s international legal obligations protecting refugees and asylum-seekers. Cardozo law students Julie Geifman (Class of 2013), Sara Levine (class of 2013), Diana Duarte (class of 2015), and Anna Maslyanskaya (Class of 2014) all contributed to the amicus.
“Decree 1182 provisions violate an asylum seeker’s due process rights and jeopardize these and other fundamental rights—including the right to seek asylum… and the principle of non-refoulement,” the brief says.
The brief argues that the presidential decree imposes short, inflexible procedural time limits that make it difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to apply for refugee status and, if necessary, appeal adverse status determinations. The decree also sets a high admissibility standard for applications to be considered for refugee status determination; allows officials broad power to exclude asylum seekers from the asylum procedure; and grants overly broad powers to authorities to revoke refugee status. Twelve Cardozo law students travelled to Esmeraldas province in the north of Ecuador and worked directly with refugees impacted by the decree over winter break in partnership with Asylum Access Ecuador. One of the appeals the students brought in a particularly complicated case was overturned immediately – something that is unprecedented in the Office of the Refugee Directorate in Ecuador.
These provisions violate international standards in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, in the 1981 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, and guidelines on basic safeguards adopted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The Refugee Representation Project said.
The brief was submitted in a case brought before the Constitutional Court in 2012 by the nongovernmental organization Asylum Access Ecuador and the human rights clinic of the San Francisco de Quito University. Both institutions challenged the constitutionality of several articles of the decree. The Human Rights and Genocide Clinic will continue to engage in advocacy efforts to round out the third prong of its prevention, protection, and rebuilding framework as it awaits the decision of the Constitutional Court.
 Sara Barlowe (class of 2016), Steven Bravo (class of 2014), Rikki Dascal (class of 2016), Afrodite Fountas (class of 2015), Anna Kaminsky (class of 2016), Ali O’Brien (class of 2016), Adam Rave (class of 2014), Gaudys Sanclemente (class of 2014), Johanny Santana (class of 2015), Sarah Segal (class of 2016), Anna Shwedel (class of 2015), Pamela Takefman (class of 2014)
Compendium Details Blasphemy Laws Challenging Human Rights Worldwide
New York City - Human Rights First and the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic of Cardozo Law School today released the first publicly available compendium to outline blasphemy laws from around the world. The compilation is a useful tool for human rights defenders, governments, civil society leaders and legal experts working to combat abuses created by blasphemy laws that permit the prosecution of individuals for defaming or insulting religions.
“This first-of-its-kind compendium gives us a better understanding of the legal landscape of blasphemy and how the sweeping language of these laws often poses grave human rights concerns, and heightens social and political instability in many countries,” said Human Rights First’s Joelle Fiss. “This resource will provide valuable insight to those working to tackle human rights abuses rooted in allegations of blasphemy.”
According to Fiss, blasphemy laws and the international concept of prohibiting “defamation of religions” are inconsistent with universal human rights standards that protect groups and individuals from discrimination based on race, religion, gender, political opinion and other criteria. Blasphemy laws often foster intolerance through governmental restrictions on freedom of expression, thought, and religion, resulting in devastating consequences for religious minorities and stifling political dissent. Accusations of blasphemy in the Islamic world and beyond have sparked assaults, murders and mob attacks, and have resulted in arrests and arbitrary detentions.
The research included in the compendium released today is divided into two separate documents:
1. Laws that specifically reference the sanctioning of insult, blasphemy or defamation of religion. These “blasphemy laws” in the narrow sense seek to punish individuals for offending, insulting, or denigrating religious doctrines, deities, symbols or the sacred, and more broadly, for wounding or outraging religious feelings. These laws use precise reference to the prohibition of insulting religion.
2. Related laws that do not specifically reference blasphemy, but can be used to prosecute for that offence or are misused for the purpose of punishing minority communities or political dissidents. Although the laws do not specifically address blasphemy or the insult to religion, they have still been used by the state to punish individuals who have allegedly committed blasphemy. In many cases, governments provide for a state religion and have laws that prohibit the “violation of public morals,” which may equate to offending religious values.
For more information, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-845-5269.
"A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect"
A Report by Cardozo Law School's Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program
On October 7, 2013, the Cardozo Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program, with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, launched a Report & Policy Brief in New York entitled “A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect.” The Report seeks to advance the implementation of the R2P principle by elaborating on how one of its key elements – prevention – can be operationalized by international society.
The Report—based upon the results of a multi-staged research study led by Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg with significant input from Ekkehard Strauss—clarifies and addresses the normative concerns embedded within R2P through: 1) systematically developing a common R2P standard (the “Standard”) to assess incoming information related to R2P; 2) coherently developing guiding principles for the application of the Standard; and 3) rigorously assessing the benefits of, and challenges to, adopting a common standard. Ultimately, the Report concludes that the development of this common Standard will:
Promote the full continuum of R2P action. The standard is adapted specifically to address R2P’s normative preventive concerns in addition to its late-stage concerns.
Enhance legitimacy. A unified common standard adds a level of transparency and credibility to R2P;
Reduce uncertainty. The standard will reduce the depth and duration of debate centering on early to mid-term application of R2P.
The Report sets forth the application standard, along with the research methodology, development and construction of the Standard and the guiding principles for operationalization. The researchers pursued academic rigor, while at the same time consulting with relevant policymakers at all levels of international society, in order to ground the articulated standard in real world policy and practice. The standard and related principles are intended to be utilized by States, international and regional organizations, civil society, academia and other actors called upon to determine the relevance of applying an R2P framework to the real risk of a given situation.
We encourage all interested stakeholders to make active use of this Report. And please contact us with your feedback at email@example.com.
Download full Report A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect_Full Report.pdf
Download Policy Brief A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect_Policy Brief.pdf
A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect
October 7, 2013 from 6:00pm to 8:15pmRoom 9204, 9th Floor, CUNY Graduate Center
Eric Freedman and Richard Weisberg, The Haennig-Nordmann Papers: Two Lawyers in Occupied France, New York, Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2013.