Students present new academic work at Inaugural Columbia Law School Human Rights Student Paper Symposium
May 4, 2017, NEW YORK - Columbia Law School students presented new scholarship on human rights law, policy, advocacy, theory, and practice at the inaugural “Columbia Law School Human Rights Student Paper Symposium.” The April 7, 2017 symposium brought students, faculty, and leading human rights practitioners into dialogue, and was co-sponsored by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Law Review, Rightslink, and the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.
During the half-day symposium, eleven student authors presented their original work to a panel of academics and practitioners with expertise in human rights and international law. Papers covered topics such as the impact of labor rights in Angola, rights-based legislation on social rights in South and Southeast Asia, transitional justice and reparations, mental health in armed conflict, and customary law as an advocacy tool in Africa. Through this exchange, student participants received feedback from peers, professors, and human rights advocates, including experts from Human Rights Watch, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, and the Human Rights Methodology Lab, among others.
“The inaugural Human Rights Student Paper Symposium showcased the sophisticated human rights scholarship that students are producing at Columbia Law School,” explained Sarah Knuckey, Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute and Director of the Human Rights Clinic. “Our goal in developing the symposium was to empower students through building a forum in which they could hone their presentation skills, receive constructive feedback, and strengthen and polish their work for publication.”
“The Symposium was a tremendous opportunity as a student interested in human rights scholarship and advocacy,” said Kate Berry ’18. “Not only did I gain valuable feedback that will strengthen my paper, I also started and grew relationships with practitioners and professors who share my interests and passions. The experience supported my contributions to legal scholarship and human rights debates.”
Reflecting on her experience as a student presenter, LL.M. Human Rights Fellow, Ria Sawhney ’17 noted, “Participating in the symposium was one of the highlights of my year at Columbia Law School, and was an exceptional opportunity to deepen the ties between the human rights community. It gave me exposure to other students’ research, afforded us all the opportunity to develop our skills of formulating and presenting our research, and gave us valuable access to faculty and practitioners for feedback in an exceptionally supportive context.”
The students who presented at the conference were Kate Berry ’18, Jacob Bogart ’18, Elise Bonine ’17 LL.M., Yasmin Dagne ’18, Rachel Fleig-Goldstein ’18, Gina Mitchell ’17 LL.M., Julie-Irene Nkodo ’18, Benjamin Nussberger ’17 LL.M., Simi Obatusin ’18, Ria Sawhney ’17 LL.M., and Clemency Wang ’18.
The Columbia Law School faculty and lecturers that served as panelists included Jessica Bulman-Pozen, Jeffrey Fagan, Olatunde Johnson, Sarah Knuckey, Jason Parkin, Katharina Pistor, David Pozen, Graeme Simpson, Peter Strauss, Kendall Thomas, Kristen Underhill, Kayum Ahmed, JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Risa Kaufman, Alex Moorehead, and Benjamin Hoffman.
Outside practitioners who joined as panelists were, Richard Dicker ’90 LL.M., Director, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch, Akshaya Kumar ’12, Deputy United Nations Director, Human Rights Watch, Holly Stubbs ’15, Human Rights Methodology Lab, and Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye ’14 LL.M., Legal Researcher, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, along with the Human Rights Institute’s Rahma Hussein and Tony Wilson.
Please visit the Symposium website for a list of selected papers and session topics.
The Human Rights Institute advances international human rights through education, advocacy, fact-finding, research, scholarship, and critical reflection. We work 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 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. For more information, visit http://www.law.columbia.edu/human-rights-institute.