IJRC Interview Series

The IJRC Interview Series highlights the work and strategies of human rights defenders and organizations around the world.

For more on civil society organizations engaged in human rights advocacy, see the Civil Society Actors page of the Research Aids section of the Online Resource Hub.

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Roxanna Altholz, Associate Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, discusses her career in international human rights advocacy, the work of the clinic, effective human rights strategies, and her advice for aspiring human rights attorneys.

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Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and former Judge of the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina, discusses the value of special procedures and civil society in protecting human rights, and the responsiveness of governments to working with special procedures. He shares advice for advocates bringing forth cases of alleged human rights violations, and remarks upon the importance of human rights defenders on the ground.

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Murray Hunter, the National Coordinator of the Right2Know campaign in South Africa explains the formation of the Right2Know campaign; the importance of access to information; Right2Know’s broad based approach to advocacy; and its impact on parliamentary discussions of draft legislation.

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Kayum Ahmed, CEO of the South Africa Human Rights Commission discusses the functions of the Commission and his duties as CEO; challenges and progress in developing a culture of human rights in South Africa; beneficial collaborations with civil society; monitoring government human rights performance, including the realization of economic and social rights; engagements with other National Human Rights Institutes (NHRI) regionally and globally; and ensuring human rights protections in all of South Africa’s international relations, including trade agreements.

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Maryam al-Khawaja, Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, discusses the human rights situation in Bahrain; the recent sentence of the Center’s President, Nabeel Rajab; the Center’s determination to continue with its advocacy even while under severe threat; and the need for democratic governments to uphold the universal values of human rights by holding the Bahrain government accountable through diplomatic and economic pressure.

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Justice Richard Goldstone discusses his personal involvement with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the development of international criminal justice, the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the importance of national courts in the protection of human rights.

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Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council explains her organization’s work engaging with international human rights mechanisms to protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

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IJRC advisors Katrina Anderson (Center for Reproductive Rights) and James Ross (Human Rights Watch), together with IJRC Board member Jamil Dakwar (American Civil Liberties Union), share their thoughts on the relevance of international law to human rights advocacy in the United States.

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On December 7, 2011, IJRC hosted Boston Human Rights Night, bringing together the legal, academic and social justice communities to learn about one another’s work and discuss the relevance of international human rights law and mechanisms to their advocacy efforts. Panelists Gabor Rona (Human Rights First), Martha Davis (Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy), Christy Fujio (Physicians for Human Rights), John Cerone (New England Law), and Laura Rotolo (ACLU of Massachusetts) shared their perspectives and experiences engaging with the international framework.

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September 10, 2011

During the 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly, Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, described the challenges faced by BCHR since its founding, explained the importance of the rule of law and engagement with international monitoring bodies to his organization’s work promoting and protecting human rights in Bahrain, and discussed what would have to happen before a regional human rights body could be effective in the Middle East. Subsequent to this interview, Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned for participating in peaceful protests seeking the protection and respect of human rights in Bahrain. See OHCHR, UN experts demand end to persecution against human rights defenders.

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September 12, 2011

Francisco Quintana, Program Director for the Andean Region, North America and Caribbean for the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), describes CEJIL’s use of strategic litigation throughout the Americas, the role of the Inter-American System, and other international tools available to advocates and litigants (in Spanish).

Francisco Quintana, Subdirector del Programa para la Región Andina, Norteamerica y el Caribe, de CEJIL, describe el litigio estratégico como herramienta para la protección de los derechos humanos en las Américas, el rol del Sistema Interamericano, y los fundamentos para el uso efectivo de los mecanismos regionales e internacionales (en español).