2006 – 2007

FALL 2006

Conference : Thinking and Acting in an Emergency: The Role of Human Rights After 9/11 (October 26-27, 2006) 

Sponsored by: Center for International Human Rights, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York; College of Continuing Studies, University of Connecticut; Human Rights Review.
Several critical issues were raised during this conference, including the need to address the nature of the human rights discourse, and the importance of moving beyond identifying the problems posed by 9/11 and its aftermath. Concerning the first issue, the post-9/11 context has rendered more acute the ambiguities inherent in the concepts invoked by the language of human rights; as a result, we have often witnessed contradictory actions taken and decisions made by those involved in human rights, actions which have been considered, at one time or another, to be justified or justifiable. The now familiar, and increasingly frequent condemnation of the human rights framework as a tool of Western moral and cultural imperialism make a return to these foundational questions mandatory. Concerning the second issue, our discussions were not confined to the nature and extent of normative erosion resulting from the ongoing “war on terror.” Instead the conference, by examining domestic and international responses, including the responses of international institutions, explored ways in which this trend can be reversed. In this context, the role of civil society, and in particular the contribution of social movements, professional associations, religious and spiritual organizations, academe and public benefit non-governmental organizations is deemed critical in this effort.

Panel I
Thinking in an Emergency: The Language of Human Rights

This panel concerned itself with the foundational concepts necessary for the global realization of coexistent freedom and the normative basis needed for engaging in meaningful discourse on terrorism. What must human rights be to be able to support thinking that resolves rather than complicates or aggravates the current crisis?

Panel II
Fighting a Perpetual War: Measures, Responses, Lessons

This panel examine fsome of the key legislative and administrative measures adopted in the United States and in other countries as part of the ongoing “war on terror;” analyzed and assessed supportive and critical responses to these measures; and set both measures and responses within a wider historical context by comparing and contrasting the current situation with previous periods of national emergency.

Panel III 
Responding to the Challenges: What Can/Should International Institutions Do?

This panel analyzed and assessed the range of measures that international and regional organizations have undertaken in response to the global “war on terror.” In particular it critically examined initiatives in the United Nations System (like the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 1267 Sanctions Committee), the Organization of American States (Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism), the African Union, the European Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Panel IV 
Fighting Back: The Role of Civil Society 

This panel examined the potential role of civil society in the development of strategies for defending the relevant human rights and humanitarian standards, and expanding the political space within which alternative visions of global order can be sustained.


Laws of War Lecture Series (March 15, 2007)
“Killing with Distinction: On Categorizing Victims and Targets in the Laws of War.” The Center for International Human Rights in collaboration with the Office for the Advancement of Research and the Ph.D. Program in Criminal Justice at John Jay College invites the public to a lecture by DR. RENÉ PROVOST ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, FACULTY OF LAW and DIRECTOR of the CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL PLURALISM at McGILL UNIVERSITY. The lecture will be held on the John Jay campus in room 630T, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A reception will follow the lecture. For further information regarding this event, contact M. Victoria Pérez-Ríos mvprios@jjay.cuny.edu.

Symposium on Guantánamo Bay (March 23, 2007)
The symposium will focus on the legal issues stemming from the detention of individuals by the United States government in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Guantánamo detainees have had a considerable impact on American and international jurisprudence. They have sparked a debate in the wider legal community about the fairness and legality of their detention and treatment: Do they have a right to seek relief from American courts? If so, can such a right be affected by Congress? Do they have any status under international humanitarian law, and if so, what? Should they have protections against torture and coercion? Should they be tried, and, if so, for what crimes, and under what procedures? If tried, would they then have a right to appeal and, if so, to whom? Should they be released and, if so, when? Will they be tortured by their governments when they are released? What are the powers and proper roles of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the United States government in dealing with the detainees? What is the legal status of detainees being held at locations other than Guantánamo Bay during the “War on Terror?”

The symposium brings together scholars, practitioners, and students of diverse legal backgrounds and interests to address these issues and participate in the symposium. The symposium touches upon a variety of fields including, but not limited to, constitutional law, criminal procedure and criminal law, international humanitarian and human rights law, and military law. The symposium will also host a “Litigation in Progress” panel, which will allow scholars and practitioners to briefly introduce their current Guantánamo caseload and receive valuable feedback, discussion, and advice from the symposium audience.

The New York City Law Review will dedicate Volume 10, Issue 2 entirely to issues covered at the symposium and publish various articles on Guantánamo-related issues.

The symposium is organized by the New York City Law Review at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, and sponsored by the Center for International Human Rights (CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice), and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The symposium will also commemorate the Center for Constitutional Rights’ 40th year anniversary and honor the organization’s leading role in protecting and promoting constitutional and human rights. The symposium is free to the public and offers Continuing Legal Education credits (7) for $25. For registration and information, please visit www.nyclawreview.org. (Conference Program) (To Register for the Conference)