Acts of Courage, Seeds of Hope


An event for those who will be in San Francisco on Tuesday April 12: A fundraiser for the International Network for Gender Equity and Law, “an international network of lawyers who believe in gender equality and justice for all people. A new concept in pro bono work, we harness the power of volunteer lawyers, and use it to promote and help secure equity and rights for women and girls locally, nationally, and around the world.”

The April 12 event will honor IntLawGrrl and award-winning author Karima Bennoune, Karima Bennoune - UN head shot.pngwho many readers know is now the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.  Bennoune will deliver the keynote address.  Details about the event: Acts of Courage, Seeds of Hope.

Somalia becomes 196th state to ratify Convention on Rights of the Child

On 1 October 2015, Somalia became the 196th state to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN press release here). South Sudan ratified it back in January 2015.

The United States now stands alone as the only state not to have ratified this treaty.

The US was actively involved – during the Reagan and Bush I administrations – in drafting the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), representing the US in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly as the text was being concluded, stated: “We believe that it represents a notable step forward in the needed promotion and protection of the rights of children.”

In 1995, Ambassador Madeleine Albright signed the treaty on behalf of President Clinton, but he did not send it to the Senate, and in the face of GOP opposition to ratification, President Obama has not done so either.  Click here for a summary of the US history with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and an overview of the arguments that have been raised for and against ratification.

Call for applications: Special Rapporteur on right to privacy in the digital age

OHCHRThe OHCHR has posted the call for applications for the newly-created post of Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy in the digital age, discussed in IntLawGrrls posts by Lisl Brunner here and here.  As Marko Milanovic has noted, “Bearing in mind the wide scope of the right to privacy, this SR is sure to be a mega-mandate.”

Deadline for applications:  30 April 2015
Mandate of this rapporteurship: Set out in HRC Resolution A/HRC/28/L.27, available in all UN languages here.
Application procedure: Through the special procedures on-line application system, here.

Key qualifications have been suggested by the following civil society organisations to help identify and reach out to highly qualified and independent candidates for this post: Access, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Article 19, Association for Progressive Communications, Electronic Frontier Foundation, International Commission of Jurists, Privacy International.

Here are just a few of the individuals who have been doing impressive work in this field who come to mind as potential candidates:

MalavikaMalavika Jayaram, a technology lawyer and a Fellow at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India; recently a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, where she worked on  freedom of speech, internet policy and privacy issues. Previously based in London with the global law firm Allen & Overy in the Communications, Media & Technology group, and with Citigroup as Vice President and Technology Counsel. One of ten Indian lawyers selected for The International Who’s Who of Internet e-Commerce & Data Protection Lawyers directory.  Amongst other things, her bios indicate, “she has been looking at the evolution of big data and e-governance projects in India – particularly the world’s largest biometric ID project – and their implications for identity, freedom, choice and informational self-determination.”

???????????????????????????????Carolina Botero, a digital activist and lawyer with the Karisma Foundation in Colombia, a “civil society organization dedicated to supporting and spreading the good use of technologies in digital environments, social processes and national public policies and the region, from the perspective of protection and promotion of human rights.” Botero leads the foundation’s Law, Internet and Society group, “a multidisciplinary group that works for a responsible and thoughtful use of information and communication technology in the various sectors of society, in light of the role played by the legal framework in the dynamics of the internet.”

Nighat DadNighat Dad, Director of the Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan, which works “to support human rights, democratic processes and digital governance,” and “aims to strengthen protections for human rights defenders and women human rights defenders in digital spaces through policy advocacy and digital security awareness-raising.” A researcher and lawyer with extensive experience in cyber law, her focus is “not only on addressing Internet Governance issues related to Freedom of Expression but also on articulating civil society’s concerns over government policies that hamper citizens use of Information and Communication Technologies.” She has written on ICT issues experienced particularly by women; participated in the UN Internet Governance Forum; and is a member of the Women’s Networking Support Program of the Association for Progressive Communication.

IntLawGrrls at Oxford

???????????????????????????????IntlawGrrls Fiona de Londras and Stephanie Farrior find themselves both spending a sabbatical leave as Visiting Fellows at the University of Oxford, Fiona with the Oxford Human Rights Hub, and Stephanie with Kellogg College.  They’re looking forward to going punting on the Cherwell later this spring!

Fiona, a professor of law at Durham University, is past co-director of the Durham Human Rights Centre; her inaugural address: Counter-Terrorism Everywhere.  Her current projects address counter-terrorism, constitutionalism and human rights, and human rights and gender, with a particular focus on abortion law reform in Ireland.  Her most recent book is Critical Debates on Counter-Terrorist Judicial Review (Fergal F. Davis & Fiona de Londras, eds) from Cambridge University Press; SSRN link to her chapter, Counter-Terrorist Judicial Review as Regulatory Constitutionalism.

Stephanie, a professor at Vermont Law School and director of its Center for Applied Human Rights, recently published Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law (Ashgate Publishing); SSRN link to her introductory chapter.  Her current research examines legal issues in the linkages between human rights and environmental protection.  Farrior and two of her students recently worked with Article 19 on the report A Dangerous Shade of Green: Threats to Environmental Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Europe, which was launched at the Aarhus Compliance Committee session last June; coverage of the report by The Japan Times: Inside the Trenches of Environmental Rights.

Duke Law Seeks Supervising Attorney/ Clinical Fellow, International Human Rights Clinic

Our colleagues at Duke Law have asked us to post the following announcement, a link to which can also be found here.  Among the benefits of this position is the mentorship the person would receive from the clinic director, the fabulous Jayne Huckerby!

DEADLINE for applications: 16 March 2015

Job Announcement: Clinical Fellow/Supervising Attorney, International Human Rights Clinic, Duke University School of Law 

Duke Law seeks to fill a Clinical Fellow/Supervising Attorney position in its International Human Rights Clinic beginning in the Summer of 2015.

Duke Law has deep faculty, student and institutional engagement in human rights and international law.  In addition to its International Human Rights Clinic launched in the Spring of 2014, the law school is home to a Center for International and Comparative Law and a Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security.  It offers a joint JD-LLM in international and comparative law, has many student organizations relating to international law, and publishes the student-edited Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law.

The Clinical Fellow/Supervising Attorney will work closely with the Director of the International Human Rights Clinic.  She or he will primarily help supervise student fieldwork in Clinic projects and participate in the planning and teaching of the Clinic advocacy seminar.  The Clinical Fellow/Supervising Attorney will also work closely with the Director and other faculty to expand Duke Law’s experiential learning opportunities in international law, including through student placements in competitive summer and semester fellowships and externships in human rights and related fields.  The individual appointed to the position will receive mentorship in teaching, scholarship, and human rights lawyering and will have an opportunity to work with the faculty affiliated with the Center for International and Comparative Law.

Applicants should have a minimum of two to five years of relevant experience. In addition to a record of, or demonstrated potential for, clinical teaching, advocacy, and intellectual engagement, the ideal candidate will have experience: as practicing lawyers or human rights advocates, developing practice-oriented courses, supervising students in fellowships or externships, working collaboratively with faculty, and other evidence of in-depth knowledge of and practical engagement in international human rights law and mechanisms.

The initial term of the appointment is expected to be two years.  Salary and benefits will be commensurate with experience and competitive with similar fellowship positions at other top U.S. law schools.

Applicants should send a statement of interest and CV to Ali Prince at by March 16, 2015.

Duke University and Duke University Health System is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, or disability.

Pollution, brain tumors, children . . . and national security

Ionizing radiation symbol“If Al Qaeda sent a team of sleeper cells to poison our groundwater and release toxic materials into the air, people would go nuts. It would be an act of war,” Dycus notes.

“But if we do it to ourselves in the name of national security, in preparation for war, that seems to be sort of OK.”  

– My Vermont Law School colleague Steve Dycus, quoted in The Nation’s detailed story about lawsuits accusing defense contractor Pratt & Whitney of causing a brain cancer cluster among children in Florida by contaminating the area’s soil and water:
The Brain Cancer Rate for Girls in This Town Shot Up 550%—Is a Defense Contractor to Blame?

Dycus is lead author of National Security Law (Wolters Kluwer) and Counterterrorism Law (Wolters Kluwer), and author of National Defense and the Environment (Univ. Press of New England).

Karima Bennoune book awarded 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize

YourFatwaDoesNotApplyHere2Karima Bennoune’s book Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism  (W.W. Norton & Company) has been awarded the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction.  The award “honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding.” As noted in the press release, previous honorees include Wendell Berry, Taylor Branch, Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Kingsolver, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Tim O’Brien, Studs Terkel, and Elie Wiesel.  Of Karima’s book, the awards committee wrote:

In Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Karima Bennoune walks a tightrope between, on the one hand, the tragic consequences of Islamist fundamentalism and, on the other, the West’s inability to imagine Muslims as anything more than terrorists or passive victims.

Her solution is to tell us the stories that disturb both of these stereotypes, vividly presenting us the experiences of individuals from a vast array of identities and social positions — as women, as journalists, as educators, as makers of and keepers of cultural tradition. . . . [T]he portraits in Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here find Muslims on the front lines against the fundamentalists.

On being notified of the award, Bennoune wrote:

KarimaBennoune author photo2Given the mission of the prize, there is no other award that would mean more to me or to so many of those in the book – victims of terror who organized against its perpetrators, women who filled bomb craters with flowers, journalists who defied machine guns armed only with pens, artists who could not be censored by death threats (or worse), feminists who demanded the right to have human rights, secularists who spoke out, mullahs who risked their lives to revive the enlightened Islam of our grandparents. I share the prize with all of them. For me, the award is ultimately a much-needed recognition that fundamentalism is a threat to peace, and that those who challenge extremism and jihadist violence in their own communities are waging a battle for true peace, and deserve global recognition and support.

Read the Dayton Literary Peace Prize webpage about her book here.  Karima’s powerful TedTalk about the book is now well past one million views; see the link to her talk here.

Heartfelt congratulations, Karima!

TED Talk by Karima Bennoune Nearing One Million Views

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Professor Karima Bennoune’s powerful and inspiring TED Talk® When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism, posted online this summer, is already nearing one million views.  From the TED site (emphasis added):

Karima Bennoune shares four powerful stories of real people fighting against fundamentalism in their own communities — refusing to allow the faith they love to become a tool for crime, attacks and murder. These personal stories humanize one of the most overlooked human-rights struggles in the world.

 It must have been a daunting task, to distill into a short talk the essence of the 286 interviews of incredibly brave people she conducted for her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism (W.W. Norton 2013).  Yet she succeeds brilliantly.  Her talk can be viewed here.

Praise for the book behind the talk includes these ringing words from Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka:YourFatwaDoesNotApplyHere

This work redefines courage in a humbling dimension. Bennoune’s meticulous testament serves as a warning to the complacent and rebukes ‘politically correct’ posturing that makes excuses for the inexcusable and canvasses tolerance for the intolerable.

Additional features on Karima’s TED Talk page include:

  • Take Action — which links to Women Living Under Muslim Laws, the NGO that grew from an action committee formed in 1984 by women from Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Mauritius, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  •  Karima recommends a terrific compilation of resources, with links to interviews and NGOs.

Hold the press!    

As I was preparing to post this blog, I saw in a press release issued today that Karima’s book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here is a finalist for the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize.  Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, this prize is “the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace.”

Heartfelt congratulations, Karima!

ASIL Recruitment for Executive Director

The American SocPrintiety of International Law has begun recruitment for its next Executive Director.  Click here for full job description and application details.  From the job announcement:

The American Society of International Law seeks an accomplished leader with vision, proficiency in international law, and proven management abilities to serve as its next Executive Director, starting in the second half of 2014.

The successful candidate for the Executive Director post will be proficient in international law, and demonstrate strong administrative ability and experience, effective fundraising capacity, and an ability to relate to and represent the diverse and multinational membership of academics, private practitioners, jurists, government officials, and students in their various endeavors relating to all facets of international law.

In addition to coordinating with Society leaders, the Executive Director manages an annual budget in excess of $3 million; supervises a staff of 17 (14 of whom are full-time employees) in planning and executing day-to-day operations; facilitates the dissemination of scholarly and informational output in print, electronic, and conference settings; raises funds for the Society by seeking grants and other contributions from foundations, corporations, law firms, individuals, and other sources; implements outreach programs to a variety of external constituencies including the U.S. Congress, the judiciary, the media, law-making bodies, think tanks, international organizations, academia and others; and administers programs outside as well as within the United States.

Review of applications will begin in May and continue in June. To receive appropriate consideration, applications should be received by June 15, 2014.



Call for Abstracts: Colloquium on Environmental Law

2014 Environmental ColloquiumFifth Annual Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship

at Vermont Law School
October 4, 2014

Deadline for submitting abstracts: June 1, 2014

Vermont Law School will host the Fifth Annual Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship on October 4, 2014. This event offers environmental law scholars the opportunity to present their works-in-progress, get feedback from their colleagues, and meet and interact with those who are also teaching and researching in the areas of environmental and natural resources law and related specialty areas.

If you are interested in presenting a paper at the Colloquium, please submit a working title and short abstract, using the online form here, no later than June 1, 2014. For an abstract to be eligible for submission, the author must anticipate that the paper will still be at a revisable stage (neither published nor so close to publication that significant changes are not feasible) by the date of the Colloquium. We will do our best to include all interested presenters, and will notify authors about acceptances no later than July 1, 2014.

All selected participants must submit a draft paper no later than September 20, 2014, and all participants will be asked to provide commentary on another participant’s draft paper at the Colloquium. Final papers will also be eligible for publication in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.

VLS in autumnThe Colloquium panels will take place on Saturday, October 4. Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center and its faculty will host a cocktail reception the night before in the Hanover area, and a dinner on Saturday evening at Vermont Law School. Further Colloquium details regarding the schedule, events, lodging, and transportation will be posted here as they become available. For more information on the Colloquium, or if you need assistance uploading your abstract, please contact Courtney Collins at or at (802) 831-1371.