Columbia Law Human Rights Organizations Launch Tool to Track Trump’s Human Rights Record

Students and faculty from the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Rightslink, Human Rights Institute, and Human Rights Clinic collaborate on new tracker.

Columbia Law School human rights students, lawyers, and faculty today launched a new online tool to track President Trump’s actions and their human rights implications. The project records each action taken by the new president, sets out detail about the action, summarizes the human rights affected or violated, and provides links to further information.

“With each day bringing fresh news of a damaging initiative by the president of the United States, it is difficult to keep up with all that the new administration is doing that threatens human rights,” said Julia Sherman ‘17, editor-in-chief of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. “By bringing together all the potential violations in one place, we hope to document and monitor the wide range of human rights being undermined by this administration at home and abroad.” 


The tracker will be an easy to use resource for those seeking to understand the range of executive actions from a human rights perspective. It includes executive actions on the Global Gag rule, banning refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries, sanctuary cities, and more. The tracker records human rights already violated, including the right to non-discrimination, as well as many rights undermined or at risk, including women’s rights, indigenous rights, and the rights to education, family life, privacy, and life. 

“Students launched this initiative to break down each executive action, and explicitly state the human rights norms Trump jeopardizes,” said Ria Singh Sawney ‘17 LL.M., a student in Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic. “We worked with faculty and human rights practitioners to identify the most pressing human rights concerns that these unprecedented actions implicate.”

The tool was designed to aid journalists, civil society organizations, and the general public in understanding how the new executive is impacting human rights in the United States and around the world. The Columbia human rights organizations will continue to regularly update the resource.

“Trump’s repugnant actions, clearly intended to further marginalize already vulnerable communities, have been deeply upsetting,” said Jeffrey Stein ‘19, a student member of Rightslink, one of Columbia Law School’s human rights organizations. “But we came to law school—and got involved with the vibrant human rights community at Columbia—so that we could acquire the tools to fight back. By identifying specific human rights law and norms that are violated by Trump’s actions, we’re educating ourselves while providing a resource for others.”

The tool was designed by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the top-ranked human rights law journal in the world, Rightslink, a student-led human rights group, working together with the Human Rights Clinic, a class in which students learn how to be effective advocates, and the Human Rights Institute, the focal point of international human rights education, scholarship, and practice at Columbia Law School. Students ranging from their first year of law school through to their final year and master’s students all worked together on the project.

Professor Sarah Knuckey, director of the Human Rights Clinic and faculty co-director of the Human Rights Institute, said that in addition to being a resource for the general public, the tool also provided important educational opportunities for students. “Working on the human rights tracker, students develop efficient research skills, learn about the wide range of relevant human rights laws and how human rights groups are responding to Trump, and how to clearly explain complex government actions.”


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Posted February 2, 2017