The pressing political, moral, and social problems facing the world are best addressed by creating a community of thinkers and activists who can come together to consider problems of massive human rights abuses.  To that end, the program provides on-going public events intended for a broad audience.


2013-2014 EVENTS

 

March 24, 2014 
Crisis in Syria: The Human Face

The conflict in Syria is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. As fighting enters its fourth year, more than 100,000 lives have been lost and over 2 million people have been displaced from their homes. These numbers, however, fails to convey the situation of Syrians and Syrian refugees. With this in mind, the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (HGHR) Program At Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law organized a panel and reception event on March 24, 2014 entitled “Crisis in Syria: The Human Face.”

The HGHR Program invited four esteemed panelists to describe the situation in Syria and the challenges experienced by displaced Syrians: Eleanor Acer, Director of the Refugee Protection program at Human Rights First; Bassel Diebo, M.D., Research Fellow at the Spine Research Institute at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases; Oubai Shahbandar, Senior Advisor to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces; and, Sandra Krause, Director of the Reproductive Health Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

The event began with a brief introduction from Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg, Director of the HGHR Program. The first speaker of the evening was Dr. Bassel Diebo, whose vivid and jarring account of treating those wounded by the conflict as a physician in Damascus brought the human consequences of the conflict to the foreground of the discussion. Dr. Diebo ended his presentation with a passionate call for peace. Next, Ms. Acer discussed the scope of the refugee crisis and how the U.S. government should do more to protect Syrian refugees. Then, Mr. Shahbandar discussed his involvement in the Geneva peace talks between the Opposition Coalition and the Syrian regime as well as the role of the international community in bringing the conflict to an end. Last but not least, Ms. Krause presented the findings of an inter-agency report with regards to the reproductive health of Syrian refugees: although reproductive health services existed in refugee camps, the lack of community outreach meant that few female Syrian refugees knew how to access the resources or receive effective reproductive health advice. The panel event was followed by a Q & A session and a reception.

This panel event was organized by Anastasia Holoboff and Kathleen Rende, Fellows of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Program.

March 10, 2014 

Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Mapping the Pathway to Change

Claudia Cappa, UNICEF Statistics Specialist on Child Disability, Early Childhood Development and Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse, presented the findings of the recent UNICEF Report entitled "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change.” Ms. Cappa was one of the co-authors of the report, which provides a comprehensive statistical overview of FGM/C in the 29 countries where the practice is concentrated. As Ms. Cappa noted in her presentation, the goal of the report is to generate an in-depth understanding of FGM/C that can be applied to the development of policies and programmes, with the ultimate aim of eliminating the practice. 

February 12, 2014 

Truth Commissions: The Social and Political Importance of Memory in the Transitional Justice Process

Eduardo González, Director of the Truth and Memory Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice, discussed the role of truth commissions in the transitional justice process. Drawing upon his extensive experience in supporting truth-seeking initiatives in various countries, including Peru, Canada and Cote d'Ivoire, Mr. González noted the potential for and limitation of truth commissions. He also elaborated on the social and political importance of memory and underscored the importance of the right to truth. 

2013 Events

December 2, 2013

Blasphemy Laws & Freedom of Religion: Whose Rights are Violated?

Joëlle Fiss, Senior Associate-Fighting Discrimination Program, at Human Rights First and Professor Suzanne Last Stone, Director, Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Cardozo Law discussed the recent calls by significant numbers of UN member States for a treaty outlawing blasphemy. Ms. Fiss, one of the leading activists in this area, spoke about the human rights violations that result from blasphemy laws internationally. In comparison, Professor Stone discussed the religious perspective that believes in the need for blasphemy laws and invited us to think about how this view can be cast in secular liberal terms.

November 14-15, 2013

A Thousand Years of Infamy: The History of Blood Libel 

This conference looked at the tragic history of the “Blood Libel,” in which Jews were accused across the millennia of killing Christian children to use their blood in the Passover ritual. Originating in England early in the second millennium, the libel spread eastward to Russia, and it was not unknown in the United States and Canada.

One of the most infamous of these libels was the Mendel Beilis case, which occurred in the waning days of Tsarist Russia. The 100th anniversary of the near-miraculous acquittal of Beilis is the cause for this conference. The scholarly centerpiece of discussions will focus on Hannah R. Johnson’s influential recent book Blood Libel, a complex history of the phenomenon, as well as Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer, a fictional rendering of the Beilis case.

Panelists include Beilis’ grandson and attorney Jeremy Garber; Professor Vivian Curran, University of Pittsburgh Law School; Professor David Fraser, University of Nottingham; Professor Hannah R. Johnson, University of Pittsburgh, Department of English; Professor Jeffrey Mehlman, Boston University; Professor Sanford Levinson, University of Texas Law School; and Professor Richard Weisberg, Cardozo School of Law.

November 7, 2013

Decriminalizing Sex Work: Gender, Sex Trafficking, and Human Rights

Lynly S. Egyes, Esq. of The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center discussed how the decriminalization of sex work helps to realize the rights of sex workers while concurrently combatting human trafficking. Ms. Egyes, a Cardozo alum, discussed the impact of NYPD's use of condoms as evidence in prostitution-related cases, which placed sex workers and survivors of human traffickers who may have been coerced into sex workers into a more vulnerable position.

October 24, 2013

Lemkin Award & Lecture on China's Gulag Archipelago

The Institute for the Study of Genocide and Cardozo's Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights (HGHR) Program co-hosted the 2013 Lemkin Award and Lecture, which was awarded to Yang Jisheng's Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, translation by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian. The presentation of the Award was followed by a lecture by Professor Guo Jian, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and specialist in contemporary Chinese politics. Professor Jian was joined by Institute for Study of Genocide officers: Joyce Apsel, New York University; Ernesto Verdeja, University of Notre Dame; and, Stacy Mosher.

October 23, 2013

Shifting the Paradigm: Has the Disability Rights Treaty Made a Difference?

Ms. Shantha Rau Barriga, Director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Disability Division, discussed the legal capacity of persons with disabilities. In addition, Ms. Barriga traces the development of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), noting the various challenges to implementing the CRPD in the United States and globally.

October 7, 2013

Report Launch: A Common Standard for Applying the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

On October 7, 2013, the Cardozo Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Program (HGHR), with the Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, launched a Report and Policey Brief entitled "A Common Standard to Apply 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. 

Professor Sheri P. Rosenberg presented the findings of the Report at the CUNY Graduate Center, alongside Ms. Jette Michelsen, Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations, and Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. 

April 8, 2013 

Three Who Resisted in Hitler's Europe: What lawyers Today Need to Learn From the Holocaust 

A lecture featuring Professor Richard Weisberg, Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law. 

March 11, 2013  

LGBT Rights are Human Rights: New Dimensions on Sexual Orientation and International Law: The Atala Case 

The Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies welcomed Professor Jorge Contesse, professor of law in Chile, visiting Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School, and counsel for Karen Atala v. Chile, the latest decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, ruling for the first time on sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination. Professor Contesse discussed the impact of this case in the field of international law and the ramifications for LGBT Rights. 

January 28, 2013

Freedom of Expression in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Rwandan journalists are facing jail-time for using certain words to describe the 1994 genocide. 

Mohamed Keita, Africa Advocacy Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of the Program in Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Cardozo led a discussion on Rwanda’s post-genocide laws and their effect on freedom of expression and journalists. 

 

 

 

2012 Events

November 12, 2012

Beyond Criminalization: Anti-LGBTI Legislation and Rights Advocacy in Sub-Saharan Africa
 
Wade McMullen, Staff Attorney for Robert F. Kennedy Partners for Human Rights of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, provided an in-depth look into the history of anti-homosexuality laws in the region, exposed the "neocolonial narrative" in North-South LGBTI rights advocacy, and detailed lessons learned from North-South LGBTI rights advocacy strategies.  Mr. McMullen utilized Uganda and other countries in the region as case studies to further illustrate the evolution and impact of such legislation.
 
November 8th, 2012
On the Front Lines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process
 
A panel discussion moderated by Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of the Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, featured: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, Dorsey & Whitney Chair in Law University of Minnesota & Professor of Law University of Ulster Dina Francesca Haynes, Professor of Law and Director of Human Rights and Immigration Law Project at New England Law Dr. Aisling Swaine, Visiting Scholar at the Transitional Justice Institute at the University of Ulster and Consultant to UN Women  The panel focused on the roles of women in conflict and throughout the post-conflict process particularly in light of the book "On the Front Lines" co-authored by Professors Ní Aoláin and Haynes. 
 
September 24th, 2012
Women as Agents of Change: The Integral Role of Women in Violence and Mass Atrocity Prevention
 
Melina Lito, Program Director of the Women Peace & Security Program at Global Action to Prevent War, and Selamawit Tesfaye, Advocacy Officer at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders led a panel discussion about violence against women caused by mass atrocities and the flow of small arms, the need to increase women's participation and representation in decision-making processes, and how women’s issues are addressed at the UN. 
 
March 12th, 2012
Asylum and Migration in a Globalized World
 
Featuring Teresa Woods, supervising Attorney for the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic.
 
February 13th, 2012
From Rhetoric to Reality: Protecting Populations from Mass Atrocity
 
Featuring Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of Cardozo’s Human Rights and Genocide Clinic, and Program in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies; and Sam Permutt, Cardozo 3L and Human Rights and Genocide Clinic participant.
 
January 31st, 2012
All the Missing Souls: Book Signing with Ambassador David Scheffer
 
Featuring Ambassador Scheffer, Former Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Madelaine Albright and President Clinton's ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues.

2011 Events

November 17th, 2011
When the U.S. Fails to Protect Women and Girls: Bringing Human Rights Home at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights

When Jessica Lenahan’s children were kidnapped by her estranged husband, the police repeatedly ignored Jessica’s pleas to have her restraining order against him enforced. Hours later, her husband drove to the police department and began firing his gun. The police returned fire, killing him.Inside the car, police found the bodies of Jessica’s three daughters, who were shot dead.

During this discussion, Jessica, members of her legal team, and experts in the field, discussed how they took her case all the way to the Supreme Court and ultimately won before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in a suit against the United States.

October 31st, 2011
Is Corporate Alien Tort Dead?  Does it Matter?

Featuring Michael Goldhaber, Senior International Correspondent, The American Lawyer; Adjunct professor of Law, Fordham University.

April 13, 2011
The Long View:  The Responsibility to Protect, Libya & Beyond

As part of PHHRS' Lunchtime Lecture Series, Professor Sheri Rosenberg, Director of the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic, spoke to a large audience about the development of the Responsibility to Protect, its role in the current intervention in Libya, and the (legal and political) implications for the future.  A lively discussed followed with students, Cardozo professors Vijay Padmanabhan and Bill Schabas, and members of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

March 28, 2011
From Treaty To Tripoli:
The US and the ICC in a changing world after the Kampala Conference
 
PHHRS held a spirited panel discussion with:

Brett Schaeffer
Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs, Heritage Foundation

John Washburn
Convener, American Non-Governmental Organizations for the ICC

Jennifer Trahan
Assistant Clinical Professor of Global Affairs, NYU
 
MODERATED BY:
Vijay Padmanabhan
Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

March 23, 2011
Nation (Re)Building:  Post Earthquake Efforts in Haiti

Speaker: Professor Margaret Satterthwaite

The PHHRS Lunchtime Lecture Series presented Margaret Satterthwaite, a Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law, and Assistant Professor of Clinical Law of the International Human Rights Clinic. Professor Satterthwaite has been deeply involved in advocating for the rights of victims of the earthquake in Haiti, leading teams of students on fact-finding missions culminating in reports on the denial of the right to water.

March 9, 2011
Ever Again
Screening

Ever Again examines the resurgence of violent antisemitism and terrorism that threatens Europe and all of Western civilization. It exposes the dangerous Islamic extremism and culture of death being preached from the mosques of Europe’s major cities and its impact on the recent attacks in Madrid and London.

It also examines the new Neo-Nazism in Germany and the shifts from the traditional antisemitism of the right to the antisemitism of the extreme left, and it raises disturbing questions about our future.

The film’s conclusion echoes Edmund Burke’s warning, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Ever Again was screened in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room.

Ever Again is produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films, Jack & Pearl Resnick Film Division, two-time Academy Award winner.

February 7, 2011
A Story of Survival

Speaker:  Eugenie Mukeshimana, Rwanda Consulting LLC

In spring of 1994, life changed dramatically for the soon-to-be first-time mother, Ms. Eugenie Mukeshimana. She had been hiding from Hutu militia genocidaires for nearly a month, when she suddenly went into labor and realized that she had to manage it alone. The events that followed this rainy long night redefined the concept of life as she knew it.

2010 Events

2010 EVENTS

November 3, 2010
The Independence of Kosovo:  What’s Law Got to Do With It?
 
Speaker:  Daniel Stewart, International Human Rights Clinical Teaching Fellow, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
 
Daniel Stewart is currently the International Human Rights Clinical Teaching Fellow in Cardozo’s Human Rights and Genocide Clinic. He has worked or clerked in a variety of international and foreign courts, including the Special Court of Sierra Leone, the European Court of Human Rights, the South African Constitutional Court and the Israeli Supreme Court. Most recently he clerked with President Owada at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, during which time the Advisory Opinion on the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo was delivered.

September 7, 2010
Justice for the People: the Impact of the ICTR on Rwandan Society
 
Speaker:  Innocent Kamanzi, Associate Information Officer and Coordinator of the UNICTR’s Information and Documentation Centre based in Kigali
 
Mr. Kamanzi coordinates the ERSPS Office in Kigali and manages all outreach programs and related projects in Rwanda and also the Great Lakes Region. These include among others: awareness raising outreach workshops in Rwandan Schools, various institutions, prisons and the public in general on the role of international justice in the promotion of unity and reconciliation in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region. He has been at the forefront in coordinating a joint exhibition program conducted by the United Nations Department of Information and the UNICTR.
 
April 19, 2010
"The ICC and Justice: Through the Lens of Sudan"

Cardozo Law School's Program In Holocaust and Human Rights Studies hosted an exciting panel event:

On March 4, 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In February, the Court amended the charges to include genocide.  Both the indictment and appeal have placed the ICC at the center of a very public and political conflict, eliciting strong reactions on all sides from the international community, and raising questions about both the future of the ICC as an institution and its role in bringing justice and sustainable peace to post-conflict states such as Sudan. What are the implications of the indictment? What has happened in the year since its issuance? Does seeking this type of justice conflict with the peace process? What should be the ICC's role in Sudan? Or in any conflict? 

PHHRS held a discussion with Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch; John Norris, Executive Director of Enough at the Center for American Progress, and Adam Smith, Associate at Covington and Burling, LLP and author of After Genocide: Bringing the Devil to Justice. The panel was moderated by Cardozo Law student Nicholas Katz.

March 1, 2010
"Roma Rights and Wrongs"
James Goldston, Open Society Justice Initiative

PHHRS hosted James Goldston to speak at our Lunchtime Lecture Series.  Goldston is Executive Director of the Open Society Justice Initiative and Former Legal Director for the European Roma Rights Centre.  A description of his talk follows.

The Roma represent the quintessential pan-European ethnic minority, present in almost all Council of Europe Member States but lacking a territory or government of their own. Over the past decade, Roma rights advocates have succeeded in persuading the European Court of Human Rights to expand significantly the protection afforded victims of violence and discrimination by the European Convention of Human Rights. Three sets of arguments have proven central: (i) process-based claims, relating to positive obligations, burdens of proof, and rebuttable presumptions; (ii) arguments premised on a body of factual evidence that accumulates gradually over time; and (iii) those which address systemic problems, even when focusing in specific cases on the claims of individual applicants. As the Roma rights movement looks to the future, the challenge is increasingly to find arguments that work in compelling change outside the courtroom ― in parliaments, local governments and other centers of political power capable of translating judicial decisions into facts on the ground.

January 27, 2010
Film and Discussion -- "The Geography of Genocide in Bosnia: Redeeming the Earth"
A film by Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew and David Pettigrew

 “The Geography of Genocide in Bosnia: Redeeming the Earth” explores the extent to which the perpetrators of the genocide in Bosnia (1992-1995) violently transformed the Bosnian landscape.  Bosnian Serbs replaced Mosques with Serbian Orthodox Churches, approximately 2 million Bosnian Muslims were forced into exile, and more than 350 mass graves scar the terrain. Today, this genocidal geography has imposed a dehumanizing zone of exclusion in the form of the political entity named Republika Srpska, a zone of exclusion to which, the film suggests, a “geography of justice” must respond.

Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew is a graduate of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and has filmed and produced various movies and television series. David Pettigrew is a professor of Philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University where he has taught since 1987. He teaches and writes about ethical responses to genocide. “The Geography of Genocide In Bosnia: Redeeming the Earth,” has had limited screenings at conferences and universities around the world.

2009 Events

September 17, 2009
Visual history and Holocaust studies: Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, The case of the letter of the rabbi of Grabow

On Thursday, September 17th, the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies hosted the second talk in this year's Lunchtime Lecture Series.  Rémy Besson, a PhD candidate in Contemporary History and Visual History at l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, spoke on his dissertation research pertaining to Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah. Besson is a student and advisee of Christian Delage, a visiting professor at Cardozo this semester.

After a brief introduction by Peter Goodrich, Professor of Law and Director of Law and Humanities at Cardozo, Besson introduced Shoah, a nine-and-one-half hour documentary film about the Holocaust.  Lanzmann's film is noteworthy, not only because of the length, but because it is shot without any archival footage, primarily consisting of interviews with survivors, witnesses, and former members of the Nazi party.  To complete the narrative, however, Besson asserts that we need to add to this list to include testimony from translators and vicarious witnesses.

Although the movie deals with multiple themes, Besson restricted his research to the portions pertaining to Chelmno death camp in Poland.  Specifically, there is a scene depicting Lanzmann reading a letter that was written on the 19th of January 1942 by the rabbi of Grabow, which provides eyewitness testimony of the first period of the extermination. 

For Besson, this particular scene raised many questions.  What was the source of this letter, and why did Lanzmann feel the need to read it himself?  Further, there were multiple versions of the letter, containing discrepancies.  One, for example, spoke of the experience of “the men” at Chelmno; another changed this to reflect the experience of “the Jews.”  Why did Lanzmann choose to read the latter?  Finally, Besson asks what this letter is an incarnation of and who this eyewitness could be.  Lanzmann posits that it is Micheal Podchlebnik, a known survivor of Chelmno, who is featured in Shoah.  Besson is currently researching this claim. 

The talk concluded with a brief Q&A session.

September 16, 2009
Legislative Reform in a Transitioning System: Working with Iraq’s Parliament

On Wednesday, September 16, 2009 William “Spence” Spencer came to Cardozo for the student Lunchtime Lecture Series to give a captivating first-hand account of the challenges of working with Iraq’s Parliament and Legislative Reform in Iraq’s Transitioning Democratic Governance System.  Eager students filled the Dean’s Conference Room to capacity to hear Spence address issues in contemporary Iraq.

Spencer is highly regarded in the International Human Rights Community.  He is the executive director of the Institute for International Law and Human Rights and has more than 22 years of professional experience in international diplomacy, human rights, and democracy and governance.  He is intimately familiar with post-conflict rebuilding and peace and constitutional negotiations in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Spencer and his team frequently rely on working with the Cardozo Human Rights Clinic, along with only two other  law school clinics at University of Virginia and Georgetown.

Spencer outlined the projects and efforts he and his team focus on to grant the legislators support to protect human right and establish a stronger rule of law.  Specifically, there are four general areas the team concentrates on:  1) Iraqi minorities; 2) Refugees and Displaced Persons; 3) Women’s Rights and Gender Legislation; and 4) Social and Economic Right (healthcare, housing, etc.)

The talk was followed by a vigorous Q&A session by the students regarding the state of Iraq and the possibilities and tests that exist for its future.  

September 14, 2009
On September 14, 2009, in a packed Moot Court Room, the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies hosted a book-signing and panel discussion for “The Silence of God and Other Plays,” a collection of five new works by award-winning playwright Catherine Filloux.

A montage of scenes from Filloux's productions played as the room quickly filled with community members and students from all over the city, including Cardozo, New York University and Columbia.  The panel opened with remarks by Sheri Rosenberg, PHHRS Director and Cardozo Professor and continued with a series of impressive panelists.

David Scheffer, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, read excerpts from his introduction to Filloux's book.  He touched on the history of and advances in acts passed by United States.  He also spoke on proposed legislation involving child soldiers, such that if you recruit and use child soldiers anywhere in the world, you can now be arrested and prosecuted in United States.  Scheffer emphasized that we should not get caught up in classification, such as terms like “genocide” or “crimes against humanity – atrocities require governmental action period.

Elizabeth Becker, author and reporter for the New York Times and Washington Post, spoke of her experiences in Cambodia and about the historical backdrop against which the Khmer Rouge came into power.  She emphasized the importance of stories and narrative in helping people find a voice.

Richard H. Weisberg, Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law at Cardozo School of Law, focused on the importance of words.  He discussed the relationship between Camus' La Chute and the French experience of World War II under Vichy.  Weisberg stressed the way that words can help, stating that “the fictional media often gets us to the truth.”  He cautioned, however, that words can also serve as a hindrance, such as the U.N.'s reluctance to use the “g-word” in Rwanda.

The panel was followed by a lively Q&A session, led by Prof. Rosenberg, and reception.

May 7, 2009
From the Slave System of the American South to the Forced Labor System of Leopold's Congo

The Cardozo Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies  and CUNY Professor and writer, Lea Fridman, will bring scholars across a variety of disciplines together in a series of workshops to study the neglected black historical figure, George Washington Williams (1849 - 1891)  and his Open Letter to King Leopold.  The workshops will seek to clarify  the extent to which this trained American lawyer emerging from battlefields of race in the aftermath of the American Civil War anticipates the key ideas and institutions of international jurisprudence of the twentieth century in his Open Letter to King Leopold  and to explore related issues in Williams' life and historiography.

Trained in the law by Alfonso Taft, Williams fought for black enfranchisement as an underage soldier with Union forces, on the floor of the Ohio legislature, in his output as a historian  (Dubois would call him "the greatest historian of the race"), and as one of the great orators of the post war period. Williams sailed up the Congo river in 1890, the same year as Joseph Conrad, and wrote his Open Letter to King Leopold from Stanley Falls.  He was the first to alert the world to the criminality of Leopold's rule which by 1908 would take the lives of ten million Congolese.  Adam Hochschild notes that the Open Letter is  "the first comprehensive eyewitness indictment of the regime and its forced labour system"  and calls it "one of the great documents of human rights reporting."   But the document,  in its format, argument, recommendations and underlying vision is arguably much more.

It took John Hope Franklin forty years of pathbreaking research to exhume Williams from oblivion.  The Cardozo workshops will represent the first sustained institutional and cross disciplinary effort to clarify the contribution of Williams and of the black experience to human rights thought and global institutions. 

For more information please contact Professor Lea Fridman at leafridman@optonline.net.

March 2, 2009
The Long of the Law: Pursuing, Suing and Removing Human Rights Abusers

"Famed Nazi hunter" Eli Rosenbaum and pioneer of Alien Tort Claim litigation Beth Stephens have dedicated their careers to pursuing and denying safe haven to those responsible for atrocities ranging from the treatment of Jews by Nazi officers, to the torture of persons in Paraguay, to the commission of genocide in Rwanda. 

The panelists will discuss how creative lawyering, historical fact-finding, and coordination with foreign governments, domestic agencies, NGOs, and victims have allowed for the successful prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity found in the United States.  The discussion will be moderated by Vijay Padmanabhan, Visiting Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School.

Civil and criminal prosecutions of these perpetrators have occurred through inventive legal strategies employing the Alien Tort Claims Act, immigration law, as well as laws specifically criminalizing the underlying acts.

March 5, 2009
Straight from Iraq: Human Rights and the Rule of Law
 

William Spencer, the executive director of the Institute for International Law and Human Rights, has been advising the Iraqi government on a wide range of Constitutional and legislative issues since 2005. 
 
Just back from Iraq, he will talk to us about the current environment and the prognosis for the internalization of human rights and the rule of law.

William Spencer has more than 22 years of professional experience  in  international diplomacy, human rights, democracy and governance, international law, and crisis management and response, both in and out of government.  He is intimately familiar with post-conflict rebuilding and peace and constitutional negotiations in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

2008 Events

December 1, 2008
Shylock v. Antonio, On Appeal

Enjoy scenes from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.  See litigators appeal the 400-year-old verdict.  Witness renowned judges, authors and public intellectuals decide the case. 

Featuring Prof. Richard Weisberg, Dramaturge, Stephanie Daventry French, Director, Michael Braff, '82 Esq., Kaye Scholor, representing Shylock, and Daniel Kornstein, Esq., Kornstein Veisz Wexler & Pollard, representing Antonio.

The panel of judges includes Floyd Abrams, Esq., Cahill Gordon & Reindel, First Amendment attorney, Dr. Anthony Julius, solicitor-advocate, Mishcon de Reya, Prof. Julie Stone Peters, Harvard University, Hon. Richard Posner, US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Hon. Jed Rakoff, US District Court, Southern District of New York, Hon. Dianne T. Renwick '86, NY State Supreme Court Appellate Division, and Bernhard Schlink, author, The Reader.

Click here to view an article about this event in the New Yorker.

November 17, 2008
"Between Unjust Laws": Update on France

This panel discussion with Eric Freedman, Visiting Professor of Law, Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies, consultant to the Wiesenthal Center Paris, president of the Fondane Association, and Ricardo Nirenberg, retired Professor of Mathematics, State University of New York at Albany, philosopher and novelist, is chaired by Professor Richard Weisberg, Founding Director, Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies, and will essentially address and update two of the many aspects in today’s French Jewish cultural and legal scene:

  • The renewed interest in the Romanian French Jewish poet and philosopher Benjamin Fondane (1898-1944). Fondane tragically lost his life at Auschwitz having been arrested by French police in Paris towards the end of the Occupation. His dramatic poem L’Exode was recently performed at the Avignon Theater Festival. Both L’Exode and his play Philoctete have been translated into English, the latter appearing in Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature, vol. 6, no 1 (1994).
     
  • The ongoing work of the French government indemnification commission on Holocaust-era spoliation, which has thus far dealt with 25,000 claims. We may also address the regrettable continuation of anti-semitic acts in France.

April 30, 2008
A Public Discussion: Freedom of Speech in Rwanda

In Rwanda, "The bloody legacy of the 1994 genocide continue[s] to affect press freedom as the government and its supporters invoked claims of hate speech to silent dissenting voices."  This assessment, by the Committee to Protect Journalists, was corroborated by student observations during Cardozo's January 2008 study abroad in Post-Conflict Justice and Reconciliation, which took place in Rwanda and Tanzania.  This panel discussion presents the Cardozo student's experiences and research results while further exploring freedom of expression in post-conflict Rwanda with experts in this field.

This discussion is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and made possible through the generosity of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy and the Howard M. Squadron program in Law, Media and Society.

February 5, 2008
The Dreyfus Affair a Century Later: Legacy & Lessons

Prominent members of the international community will speak in two panels entitled, "Contemporary Implications of the Dreyfus Affair: Franco-American Comparisons" and "Equality in the Age of Human Rights."

This event is presented by Yeshiva University Museum and made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation.

2007 Events

September 20, 2007
The Genocide Convention: Where Are We Now?

A talk with visiting professor William Schabas, an internationally renowned scholar in the area of international human rights law and international criminal law.  Professor Schabas is chair in human rights law and director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the national University of Ireland, Galway.  He has authored dozens of books, monographs, and articles, including Genocide in International Law, Introduction to the International Criminal Court, and The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law.  The President of Sierra Leone appointed Professor Schabas to the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission where he served from 2002 to 2004, as one of three international commissioners.

This talk is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

February 7, 2007
First Genocide of the 21st Century - Report from Darfur

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof discusses the current crisis in Darfur and what actions the U.S. government, public and media should take in order to find a solution.  He explores how implementing no-fly zones, writing Congressional members, and pressuring powerful states to alter international relations with Sudan can bring an end to the massacre.

This lecture is presented the Program for Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

2006 Events

November 30, 2006 
"Why the United Nations is Guilty of Complicity with Evil."

In this discussion, veteran journalist Adam LeBor investigates the United Nations' failure to confront the genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur.

Mr. LeBor has been a foreign correspondent since 1991 and has reported from more than thirty countries. He has covered the Yugoslav wars for The Independent and The Times. Mr. LeBor has written seven books that have been published in nine languages, including a critically acclaimed biography of Slobodan Milosevic. His best-selling book Hitler's Secret Bankers was short-listed for the Orwell Prize. His newest non-fiction work is entitled Complicity With Evil.

This event is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

November 21, 2006
The Rule of Law in the 'War on Terror'

In this lecture, human rights lawyer and expert in U.S. constitutional law, Deborah Pearlstein, speaks about U.S. detention and intelligence operations, executive power, and the role of the courts.

Ms. Pearlstein is Director of the U.S. Law and Security Program at Human Rights First, and a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.  She leads Human Rights First's efforts in research, litigation, and advocacy related to U.S. counter-terrorism and national security policies.

This lecture is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

November 17, 2006
Understanding Genocide: Law and Policy

A discussion with human rights lawyer Ariela Blätter.

Ms. Blätter is the Director of the Crisis Prevention and Response Center at Amnesty International, a global organization with more than two million members in nearly 150 countries. In this role she manages Amnesty's response to conflicts by creating flexible, effective response strategies for key policymakers, non-governmental organizations, media and the general public. Since her arrival in DC nearly five years ago, she has worked on many conflicts, including Darfur/Sudan, Iraq, Colombia, Haiti, Nepal, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and the DRC. Currently, she is engaged on a project to create an early warning system to identify emerging conflict and genocide through the use of commercial satellite technology. To date Shehas used satellite photography to document ethnic cleansing in Darfur, village burnings in eastern Chad and housing demolitions in Zimbabwe.

This discussion is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

November 7, 2006
What we Owe to Kosovo

A discussion with author Anna Di Lellio.

Ms. Di Lellio is the editor of The Case of Kosova (London: Anthem Press, 2006), a collection of essays on Kosovo history, politics and culture. She has written essays on media intervention in Kosovo and post-war Pan -Albanian master narrative. Dr. Di Lellio currently teaches at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication and the New School for Social Research in New York. She has worked for years in Kosovo, more recently as political adviser to the Prime Minister, earlier as Media Commissioner (the interim regulator of local broadcasting and print media for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo); research analyst for the International Organization for Migration on the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) program of reintegration; and political adviser to the UN Kosovo Protection Corps Coordinator. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Columbia University and a Masters in Public Policy from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

This discussion is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies, the Howard M. Squadron Program in Media Law & Society and the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies at the New School For Social Research.

September 26, 2006
Echoes of Rwanda: Conspiracy of Silence - The Global Failure to Bring Peace and Justice to Northern Uganda

The panel consisted of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Benoni Y. Ogwal-Abwang, the former Bishop of northern Uganda, Kiwanuka Lawrence Nsereko, a Ugandan human rights activist, and Elise Keppler, legal counsel with the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. Prof. Sheri P. Rosenberg moderated the event, and Daniella L. Boston, co-founder and executive director of uNight, offered introductory remarks. More than 120 lawyers, students, activists and humanitarian aid workers were in attendance. The discussion after the speaker's presentation was critical, informed, and searing at times.

This discussion is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies in cooperation with uNight: For the Children of Uganda.

September 11, 2006
Darfur, Dispelling the Myths: A conversation with Dorn Townsend

A lunchtime discussion with UNICEF officer/journalist Dorn Townsend.

Dorn Townsend was an external affairs officer to the UNICEF mission in Darfur for the past year. Stationed in Northern Darfur, Mr. Townsend traveled throughout the region extensively to better understand the conflict, interacting with Sudanese officials, civilians and janjaweed militants. During his time in Sudan, he also wrote for the Economist magazine and provided on the ground commentary for NPR, the BBC, and Radio France.  He was also a temporary spokesman for UNICEF in Tehran.

This disscussion is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

September 5, 2006
Darfur: Engaging Women in the Peace Process

A panel discussion with Simona Cruciani, a civil affairs officer for the United Nations Mission in Sudan, and Heidi Lehmann, Senior Gender-Based Violence Technical Advisor to the International Rescue Committee. Moderated by Prof. Sheri P. Rosenberg.

This panel is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies in cooperation with the New York Women's Bar Association, UNIFEM/USA/NY and Human Rights Watch: New York Young Advocates.

May 4, 2006
PART IV of a IV-PART SERIES ON
Stories and the Holocaust: Challenges to the Artistic Imagination

Ann Weiss presents an exhibition of photographs of the prewar lives of Holocaust victims from her book, The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz.  She is joined by Joseph Berger, a veteran reporter for the New York Times, Eric Freedman, former research consultant, Wiesenthal Center and visiting professor at Cardozo School of Law, and others for a panel discussion.

Ms. Weiss is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and discovered over 2,000 prewar photographs in a locked room n Auschwitz in 1986.  She has traveled the world to identify the people in the photographs, is a founder and director of the Eyes from the Ashes Education Foundation, and an interviewer and analyst for the Transcending Trauma Survival Project at the University of Pennsylvania.

The event is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

April 23, 2006
Annual Gathering of Remembrance 

A gathering held at Hunter College, in observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This event is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and co-sponsored by Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization (WAGRO), and American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, in association with Anti-Defamation League, Consulate General of Israel, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Inc., New York Board of Rabbis, and UJA-Federation of New York.

February 19, 2006 
PART III of a IV-PART SERIES ON
Stories and the Holocaust: Challenges to the Artistic Imagination 
Catherine Filloux's play, Lemkin's House, illustrates the afterlife of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-American lawyer who invented the word “genocide” and dedicated his life to having it recognized as one of the most heinous international crimes.  In this piece by the award-winning playwright, Lemkin receives visits from the victims and perpetrators of the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides. He is tormented by the modern-day genocides, which occur shortly after his law, formally known as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, has been ratified by the United States.  If genocide cannot be stopped, how will Lemkin rest?

This event is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

REVIEWS

"In the Shadow of Darfur, a Playwright Calls for Action"
by Rollo Romig
Inter Press Service; September 25, 2006

"A Lawyer's Cause Celebre Lives Even in His Afterlife"
by Neil Genzlinger
The New York Times; September 20, 2006

"Genocide He Wrote: Speaking of the dead, for the dead and by the dead"
by Alexis Soloski
The Village Voice; September 19, 2006

"Shadow of Genocide Haunts Humanitarian in the Afterlife"
by Kenneth Jones
Playbill; September 13, 2006

"Off-Broadway Re-Enters Lemkin's House"
by BWW News Desk
Broadway World; August 24, 2006

2005 Events

December 8, 2005
PART II of a IV-PART SERIES ON
Stories and the Holocaust: Challenges to the Artistic Imagination

Lea Wernick Fridman's new play, W/Hole in the Heart, interweaves movingly a family story of Holcoaust survival and universal themes of the human condition.  Following the performances will be a round-table discussion featuring distinguished thinkers from various fields who have raised questions about the appropriateness of certain artistic representations of the Holocaust.

Professor Fridman teaches English and Comparative Literature at Kingsborough Community College and is the author of Words and Witness: Narrative and Aesthetic Strategies in the Representation of the Holocaust (SUNY, 2000).

This event is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

October 27, 2005
PART I of a IV-PART SERIES ON
Stories and the Holocaust: Challenges to the Artistic Imagination

Bernhard Schlink, author of The Reader (1995) and Flights of Love (2000) reads from his books.  The Reader is a novel about a young contemporary German man who must confront his country's Nazi past.  Flights of Love is a collection of seven stories about the universal human desire to find true love.

Professor Schlink has taught law at universities in Bonn and Frankfurt am Main, at the Humboldt-Univrestat in berlin, and is a visitng professor at Cardozo.  Since 1988 he has been a justice of the constitutional court in Nordrhein-Westfalen.

This event is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

May 8, 2005
Remembering How the Law Went Horribly Wrong

The annual Yom HaShoah lecture is presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and the American Society for Yad Vashem Education Department and Young Leadership Associates.

January 24-27, 2005
The International Human Rights Lawyer

A four-day public advocacy program with panel discussions, workshops and a film.

Prof. Sheri Rosenberg will moderate a panel, which includes Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, entitled, "Torture in the International Context." The panel will explore the current debate around "torture" - a legal prohibition that once seemed settled - and its implications for the question of who and what we are as a nation.  Program honorary and member of the American Anti-Slavery Group, Simon Deng, will speak on a panel entitled, "Slavery in the Global Economy."  Mr. Deng is a survivor of child slavery in Sudan.  He narrowly escaped death during a government raid on his village as a young child.  Mr. Deng has spoken at rallies alongside women's rights advocate Gloria Steinem, and is devoted to retelling his own story and reminding Americans about the thousands of children who remain in slavery today.  Deng has said, "I thought I could forget and forgive, but villages are still being burnt, women are still being raped, and people are being sold into slavery."

This event is hosted by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and sponsored by the Cardozo Office of Career Services, Center for Public Service Law.

2004 Events

November 14, 2004
The Shattering of Law: Legal Systems and Their Role in the Holocaust 

A lecture by Cardozo Prof. Richard Weisberg and Prof. Harry Reicher, University of Pennsylvania Law School, in commemoration of Kristallnacht.

This lecture was presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Issues in partnership with the American Society for Yad Vashem.

October 26, 2004
Death and Destruction in Darfur, Sudan: The Human Dimension and the Moral Imperative

A panel discussion.

This discussion was presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

October. 4, 2004
European Anti-Semitism Past and Present: Restitution Efforts for Past Wrongs and Education Programs to Face Present Problems

A lecture with U.S. Ambassador Edward O'Donnell and French Ambassador Jacques Huntzinger.

This lecture was presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.