Revisiting Human Rights

On April 5th, 2019 the Pace International Law Review will host its triennial Symposium at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. The symposium affords our community the opportunity to learn and participate in discussion with legal scholars, practitioners, and activists in order to build a more robust understanding of legal issues affecting lives around the globe. This year we will host a diverse group of panelists with different legal experiences in order to gain a better perspective on the lessons we have learned in the seventy years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With the help and direction of our moderators, Professors of Law from The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, our panelists hope to answer questions like: How do we advance human rights in the face of rising authoritarianism and economic inequality? What strategies are proving most effective and why? Has the human rights endeavor focused too much on legal remedies and top-down interventions? And what is the role of lawyers, activists and academics in securing human rights?


Keynote Speaker, Blaine Sloan Lecture on International Law

Professor Sarah Cleveland is a noted expert in international law and the constitutional law of U.S. foreign relations, with particular interests in the status of international law in U.S. domestic law, international and comparative human rights law, international humanitarian law, and national security.  In 2014, she was nominated by the United States and elected to serve a four-year term as an independent expert on the U.N. Human Rights Committee.  She is the U.S. Member on the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and was the Co-Coordinating Reporter of the American Law Institute’s project on the Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States.

From 2009 to 2011, Cleveland served as the Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where she supervised the office’s legal work relating to the law of war, counterterrorism, and Afghanistan and Pakistan, and assisted with its international human rights and international justice work. Cleveland has testified before Congress on U.S. terrorism detention policy, the relevance of international law in constitutional interpretation, and the interdiction of Haitian refugees, and has provided evidence to the U.K. Parliament. She is currently co-director of the Project on Harmonizing Standards for Armed Conflict, and has been involved in human rights litigation in the United States and before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Cleveland holds a baccalaureate degree from Brown University, a master’s degree from Oxford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and Judge Louis Oberdorfer on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Before joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 2007, she previously taught at the Harvard, Michigan, and University of Texas law schools and at Oxford University.



Cathy Albisa

Cathy Albisa is the Executive Director of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). Cathy co-founded NESRI along with Sharda Sekaran and Liz Sullivan in order to build legitimacy for human rights in general, and economic and social rights in particular. She is committed to a community-centered and participatory human rights approach that is locally anchored, but universal and global in its vision. Cathy has a background in constitutional and human rights, and significant expertise in reproductive justice, corporate accountability and economic and social rights.  She has published extensively and served on boards as diverse as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network, and the Center for Social Inclusion, among others. She clerked for the Honorable Mitchell Cohen in the District of New Jersey. She received a BA from the University of Miami and is a graduate of Columbia Law School.

Roni Amit

Dr. Roni Amit is a human rights lawyer whose research focuses on rights protection in the asylum, immigration, and detention context. She is currently a clinical fellow with the Deportation Defense Clinic at Hofstra Law School. She previously worked as a Senior Researcher with the African Centre for Migration & Society at the University of the Witwatersrand and as a research and strategic litigation fellow with the refugee rights clinic at Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg. Dr. Amit has a PhD in political science from the University of Washington and a JD from New York University.

Natasha Bannan

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is an Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Her work focuses on the economic exploitation and discrimination against low-wage Latina/o immigrant workers, as well as legal support in the face of the economic and humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. She works on both domestic litigation and international advocacy before human rights mechanisms concerning a myriad of issues, including state-sanctioned violence and failure to protect, self-determination and decolonization processes, gender justice and immigrants’ rights. Prior to joining LatinoJustice PRLDEF, she worked at the Center for Reproductive Rights and clerked for the Hon. Ronald L. Ellis in the Southern District of New York. Natasha graduated from CUNY School of Law, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review and a Fellow at the Center for Latino/a Rights and Equality. Natasha is the immediate past President of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation’s largest and oldest progressive bar association, and Co-Chairs its Subcommittee on Puerto Rico.

Jamil Dakwar

Jamil Dakwar is the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. He leads a team of lawyers and researchers advising ACLU programs on international human rights law. He also oversees the ACLU’s human rights documentation, advocacy and litigation before international bodies including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Prior to joining the ACLU, he worked at Human Rights Watch, where he conducted research, engaged in advocacy, and published reports on issues of torture and detention in Egypt, Morocco, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territory. Before moving to the United States, he was a senior attorney with Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel where he filed and argued human rights cases before Israeli courts and advocated before international forums. He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and New York University School of Law. He is also an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hunter College (CUNY).

Ejim Dike

Ejim Dike is a human rights and social policy advocate with over 20 years of experience in the field. Ms. Dike has a strong track record of engaging grassroots groups in global spaces to advance human rights accountability. She is experienced in building United Nations literacy for grassroots activists, both in the U.S. and globally. She has supported the African Union in engaging youth in democratic processes. Ms. Dike’s expertise is in international human rights law, and gender and racial justice, as well as government accountability. She currently works as a consultant with non-profit organizations including philanthropy to advance gender justice, racial justice, and LGBTQI rights. She served as the chief executive officer of a national human rights organization with over 300 organizational members for several years, and in senior management positions for over 10 years. She guest lectures at Sarah Lawrence College and Hunter College.

Smita Narula

Professor Smita Narula is the inaugural Haub Distinguished Chair of International Law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. She is author of dozens of widely-cited publications on human rights-related subjects, and has helped formulate policy, legal, and community-led responses to a range of social justice and environmental issues worldwide. Prior to joining the law school, she was Distinguished Lecturer and Interim Director of the Human Rights Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. Prior to Hunter, she was Associate Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law where she taught the International Human Rights Clinic and directed the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. From 2008 to 2014, Professor Narula served as legal advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. From 1997 to 2003, she was India researcher and Senior Researcher for South Asia at Human Rights Watch. In these capacities, she co-founded India’s National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights and the International Dalit Solidarity Network—organizations that help advance the right to equality for 260 million people affected by caste-based discrimination worldwide.

Marcos Orellana

Marcos A. Orellana is the director of the Environment and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. He has worked most recently at the Washington DC-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). At CIEL, Marcos collaborated with many environmental and human rights groups and multilateral institutions around the world, participated at processes leading to environmental agreements, and conducted advocacy on environmental issues at regional and global human rights forums. Marcos is adjunct associate professor at the George Washington University School of Law. He was, at various times, a fellow at the University of Cambridge, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Pretoria. He was also a visiting scholar with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC and instructor professor of international law at the Universidad de Talca, Chile. Marcos, a Chilean, holds an LL.M and an S.J.D.

Dominic Renfrey

Dominic Renfrey is an Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Dominic focuses on the intersection of corporate abuses in various activity areas, including international human rights law, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the operations of private military corporations, and the interference of corporations in the operations of state agencies and decision-making bodies. Before joining CCR, Dominic worked with the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net). He also worked alongside grassroots activist organizations in Australia and Asia providing advocacy support in national, international, and corporate-centered campaigns to seek accountability for corporate human rights abuses.

Jeena Shah

Jeena Shah is an Associate Professor at the CUNY School of Law. Prior to joining CUNY’s faculty, Jeena was a Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor at Rutgers Law School, where she directed the International Human Rights Clinic and co-taught in the Constitutional Rights Clinic. In that role, she supervised students in litigation and advocacy in support of grassroots groups fighting for racial and economic justice, the rights of immigrant and LGBTQ communities, and veterans care. For her work with the clinics, the Rutgers Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild awarded her with the Arthur Kinoy Award. Before entering academia, Jeena was an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). In that capacity, she litigated Al Shimari v. CACI and Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively under the Alien Tort Statute, provided legal and advocacy support to people’s movements, and designed and conducted trainings on movement lawyering. Prior to CCR, Jeena served as an international human rights attorney with community-based law offices in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Gujarat, India. Jeena graduated from NYU School of Law in 2007 and received her B.A. summa cum laude in Political Science and French from Drew University in 2004.

Cynthia Soohoo

Cynthia Soohoo is a Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law, specializing in reproductive justice, women’s human rights and human rights in the United States.  She has authored submissions to the U.S. Supreme Court, appellate courts and international forums on access to abortion, forced sterilization and criminalization of women’s reproductive choices. Her scholarly writing includes: Torture and Ill-Treatment, Forced Sterilization and Criminalization of Self-Induced Abortion in Gender Perspectives on Torture (2018), Hyde-Care for All: The Expansion of Abortion Funding Restrictions Under Health-Care Reform, 15 CUNY L. Rev. 391 (2012), Who is a Human Rights Defender?  An Essay on Sexual and Reproductive Rights Defenders, 65 U. Miami L. Rev. 981 (2011), The Full Realization of Our Rights: The Right to Health in State Constitutions, 60 Case W. Res. L. Rev.  997 (2011), Bringing Theories of Human Rights Change Home, 77 Fordham L. Rev. 459 (2008), Close to Home: Social Justice Activism and Human Rights, 40 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 7 (2008).  She is a co-editor of the book, Bringing Human Rights Home and the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog. Prof. Soohoo served as Director of the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights from 2008-2011.  From 2001-2007, Prof. Soohoo was Director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at the Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School and a supervising attorney for the law school’s Human Rights Clinic.

Elisabeth Wickeri

Elisabeth Wickeri is Executive Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School and Adjunct Professor of Law. Elisabeth directs the research of the Crowley Program in International Human Rights and the Asia Law and Justice Program at the Leitner Center, teaches courses in public international law, supervises clinical human rights projects for students, and carries out fieldwork, research, and writing in human rights law with a focus on Asia. In partnership with grassroots organizations and activists, Elisabeth has led and participated in human rights fact-finding projects to many countries, including Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Hong Kong, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Her work focuses primarily on the rights of human rights defenders and access to justice in closed societies, as well as socioeconomic rights and access to resources by marginalized groups. Elisabeth served as Chair of the International Human Rights Committee at the New York City Bar Association from 2012-2015, and currently serves on the Association’s Council on International Affairs, Task Force on National Security and the Rule of Law, and Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation. Prior to joining the Leitner Center, Elisabeth worked for Human Rights in China as Law Program Director where she focused on international advocacy relating to freedom of expression and the State security and State secrets framework in China.

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