CHRGJ Publishes Fall 2014 Newsletter
December 19, 2014

CHRGJ is the hub of human rights study at NYU School of Law, the top-ranked program for international law in the country and one of the premier law schools in the world.


In this Newsletter:

  • Staff News
  • UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
  • Just Security Blog
  • Fall Global Justice Clinic
  • Events
  • Scholar News
  • Alumni Connections
  • Jobs and Internships

Fall 2014 Newsletter


This fall CHRGJ welcomed Pablo de Greiff and Nikki Reisch  and said goodbye to Faculty Director Smita Narula and Executive Director Veerle Opgenhaffen. Prof. Philip Alston engaged the World Bank as UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, the Global Justice Clinic visited mining-affected communities in Haiti, and the Just Security Blog celebrated its one-year anniversary. CHRGJ hosted several high-profile events, including the Prime Minister of Sweden, and supported research from students and visiting scholars.


On August 18, Prof. Philip Alston was named to the Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic. This Fall, he continued his role as UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights proposing the adoption of a universal social protection floor and engaging with the World Bank.

In August, CHRGJ said farewell and best wishes to two long-time staff members Faculty Director Smita Narula and Executive Director Veerle Opgenhaffen. CHRGJ also welcomed Stacy Cammarano to a new position as the Managing Director, and Audrey Watne as CHRGJ’s Assistant Manager.

On September 1CHRGJ welcomed Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence, as a Senior Fellow.

On September 29-30, 2014, Profs. Margaret Satterthwaite and Sally Merry presented research on human rights quantification and methodology at the Association of Human Rights Institutes’ conference: “Human Rights Under Pressure: Exploring norms, institutions and policies.”

On October 1, 2014, CHRGJ welcomed Nikki Reisch as the new Legal Director.

This Fall, Prof. Ryan Goodman provided congressional briefings on accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka and on an authorization to use military force against the Islamic State; he was also interviewed and quoted on a wide range of national security issues for Bloomberg News, Buzzfeed, CBS News, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, and Politico.


In his first months as UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, CHRGJ Faculty Director and Co-Chair Professor Philip Alston advocated for measures that guarantee basic social protections for all and confronted the World Bank over its reluctance to engage with human rights in a meaningful way in its development work.

Through his mandate, Prof. Alston has stressed the importance of relying on a human rights based approach when confronting extreme poverty. In his first report to the General Assembly, Alston called on Governments to embrace the United Nations Social Protection Floor Initiative—to guarantee basic income security and essential social services for all. Alston denounced the World Bank’s limited concept of “social safety nets” and the absence of any meaningful reference to human rights in proposals of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals as obstacles to meaningfully addressing extreme poverty.

Prof. Alston has also cited the human rights framework when critiquing the World Bank’s draft Safeguards policies in a letter to World Bank President Jim Kim, sent as joint communication on behalf of 28 UN Special Procedures. On October 15, Alston presented the keynote speech at the Nordic Trust Fund’s annual workshop criticizing the World Bank’s unwillingness to meaningfully discuss human rights. On November 7, Alston reiterated these criticisms in a Washington Post op-ed: “The two words that scare the World Bank.”

Other News:


Just Security, an online forum for the rigorous analysis of U.S. national security law and policy, celebrated its one-year anniversary on September 23, 2014. In its first year, the blog quickly became a go-to resource for news outlets, policymakers, and other national security professionals. Notably, the New York Times Editorial Board relied on Just Security in a piece on the proposed USA Freedom Acta bill aimed at curtailing NSA and other government agencies’ bulk collection of telephone records. Other prominent citations include articles in Agence France-Presse, The Guardian, The Hill, and The Washington Post, among others. 

The blog commemorated its one-year anniversary with a round-table discussion  in Washington, D.C. on the role of national security in the 2014 midterm elections.  CSPAN covered the event, which generated broad consideration of how national security issues will shape the agenda of the 114th Congress and beyond, setting the tone for another year of the blog’s close engagement with national security policy on the Hill.

CHRGJ Faculty Director and Co-Chair Ryan Goodman manages the blog as Co-Editor-in-Chief with Prof. Steve Vladeck from American University Washington College of Law. With the new year, Just Security was pleased to announce four new editors, Kristen Eichensehr (UCLA Law), Rolf Mowatt-Larssen (Harvard Kennedy School), Faiza Patel (Brennan Center, NYU), and Michael Schmitt (U.S. Naval War College) as well as new Managing Editor John Reed (formerly Foreign Policy).


In August, the Global Justice Clinic welcomed Teaching Fellow Meera Shah. In the Fall semester, Meera oversaw clinic students as they supported Palestinian and Israeli partner organizations with research and analysis of international obligations to investigate war crimes as part of efforts to seek justice and accountability for victims of last summer’s war in Gaza.

CIA Rendition, Secret Detention, and Torture

In December, Global Justice Clinic client Mohammed Bashmilah was acknowledged in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study on CIA detention and interrogation as having been wrongfully detained in CIA “black sites” between 2003-2005.  Also in December, the Global Justice Clinic filed a request for review of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ refusal to hear the case of another client, Mohammad al-Asad, who was wrongfully detained by Djibouti at the behest of the United States in 2004 before being disappeared into the extraordinary rendition program. This summer, the Commission dismissed al-Asad’s case at the admissibility stage on grounds that, despite the evidence introduced in the case, Mr. al-Asad had not conclusively shown that he was held in Djibouti. The Clinic, directed by CHRGJ Faculty Director and Co-Chair Professor Margaret Satterthwaite, has represented Mr. Bashmilah and Mr. al-Asad, both Yemeni nationals, for many years in their quest for justice.

Franndy Lesperance (KJM) and Étienne Chénier-Laflèche (GJC) prepare for meetings in Port-au-Prince, November 2014.

Mining Justice in Haiti

The Global Justice Clinic continues to work with its Haitian colleagues to prevent human rights violations by accompanying mining-affected communities as they demand a seat at the table in decisions concerning the evolving sector.In November, Prof. Satterthwaite, Global Justice Clinic students Etienne Chenier-Lafleche, Rebecca Riddell, and Nina Sheth, and CHRGJ Legal Director Nikki Reisch visited Haiti to work with local groups in responding to prospective gold mining activities in the country. The Clinic supported the Haiti Mining Justice Collective, a platform of five Haitian social justice organizations, as they engaged with policymakers in Port-au-Prince and visited proposed gold mining sites in Northwest Haiti. The clinic is developing a toolkit for local communities to monitor the impacts of mining, and mining exploration, on the resources they value most. This trip follows a July 2014 trip to Haiti in which Prof. Satterthwaite issued a statement condemning the exclusion of mining communities as Haiti’s mining sector develops, which was covered in Le Nouvelliste [French].

On November 15, the Mining Justice Collective, with support from the Global Justice Clinic and Accountability Counsel delivered a letter  to the World Bank expressing concern over the World Bank’s assistance with the mining sector’s development in Haiti. Among several other issues, the Collective expressed concern that the World Bank was providing technical and financial support for the mining sector—including assisting the government in drafting a new mining law—without informing and consulting with affected communities and without providing necessary environmental and social safeguards.


Fall Event Highlights

Sep 11: “Nowhere to Go” Exhibit Opening & CHRGJ Open House

Sep 23: Rights Displaced in Mozayik: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Oct 16: A Conversation with the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston

Oct 16: Human Rights Clinics, North and South

Oct 29: Gendering the Right to Social Security in the Era of Crisis Governance

Nov 4: From Conflict to Accountability: Religious Actors and International Law

Fall Video Webcasts

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr at "From Rhetoric to Remedy: Human Rights in the Struggle against Poverty"

Oct 27: From Rhetoric to Remedy: Human Rights in the Struggle against Poverty

Oct 28: Should international human rights law regulate the use of drones, detention, and surveillance extraterritorially?

Nov 19: The Nordic Model of Social Democracy: A Conversation with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven


Jean-Pictet Competition on International Humanitarian Law

NYU’s Team has been selected to participate in the 2015 Jean-Pictet Competition. Team members are Patti ShnellPeter Speelman, and John Washington, all in the Class of 2016. The Competition, hosted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, is a unique opportunity to gain in-depth and hands-on knowledge of international humanitarian law (IHL).  It constitutes a week-long training on IHL, which uses practical simulations and role plays, whereby the Competition jury evaluates teams’ teams performance based on their knowledge and understanding of IHL. CHRGJ coordinates the selection of the NYU Team and Hauser Global Law School provides financial support. The organizers of the Competition accepted the NYU Team on November 30 after reviewing its application addressing substantive IHL issues. The 2015 Competition will be held on March 28 to April 4, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. We are grateful that CHRGJ alumnus Yfat Barak-Cheney (LLM 2014) will be helping to prepare the Team for the Competition. Congratulations and good luck to the NYU Team.

Religious Actors and International Law

This Fall, CHRGJ Scholar in Residence Dr. Ioana Cismas published Religious Actors and International Law with Oxford University Press. The book examines whether religious actors constitute a new category of actors within international law. Dr. Cismas writes that religious actors uphold and promote– or transform–potentially oppressive structures or discriminatory patterns through their interpretations of their respective religion(s). The book “moves beyond the concern that religious texts and practices may be incompatible with international law, to provide an innovative analysis of how religious actors themselves are accountable under international law for the interpretations they choose to put forward.” Dr. Cismas launched her book in the U.S. with the event, “From Conflict to Accountability: Religious Actors and International Law,” a lecture with Prof. Mark Weston Janis, William F. Starr Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut, School of Law. 

CHRGJ Scholars:

CHRGJ is proud host to a vibrant community of scholars.  Our Fall 2014 group included: Hauser Scholar Marlon Weichert; Scholars in Residence Ioana Cismas, Christopher Sullivan, and Inga Winkler; Affiliated Researcher Sévrine Knuchel; student Human Rights Scholars Emily Buist-Catherwood, Natalia Restrepo, and Allie Wilson; and student Transitional Justice Scholars Nasser Al-Reshaid, Gallia Daor, Jessica Griffiths, Asta Hill, Harry Hobbs, Jorge Martinez Paoletti, Hugh Pennicook, Marcela Prieto Rudolphy, Menaka Tennekoon, and Esther Theyskens.


This fall, CHRGJ hosted alumnae Ellie Happel and Stephanie Barbour to present at two lunchtime seminarseach an exciting opportunity for students and the greater community to connect with CHRGJ alumni and learn about their work.

Housing Rights Activism in Haiti: International Alliances & Challenges

Ellie Happel (’11), now an attorney consultant leading the Global Justice Clinic’s work on the ground in Haiti, presented with Haitian housing rights activist Jackson Doliscar. Jackson helped found FRAKKA, the Force for Reflection and Action on Housing, a platform of organizations and camp committees that organize and accompany the internally displaced as they fight for the right to housing. Ellie discussed the international community’s role in engaging with local actors on issues related to housing and mining.

Amnesty at the ICC: Perspectives on Human Rights Advocacy

Stephanie Barbour (’07), now Head of Office at Amnesty International’s Centre for International Justice discussed her career path  from NYU to Amnesty International as well as substantive objectives and challenges that come with representing Amnesty International on international justice issues at the International Criminal Court.

Stay Connected with CHRGJ!

CHRGJ plans to continue to foster bonds between its staff, students, and alumni. We encourage alumni to share their recent accomplishments to be featured on, to meet with students, and to give presentations about their work and career trajectories.

To stay connected:


International Law and Human Rights Fellowship Program

The 2015 International Law and Human Rights Fellows have been selected after a competitive application and interview process. The ILHR Fellowship Program was established in 2002 and is designed to provide NYU law students with the opportunity to gain education in the theory and practice of international and human rights law. The program is coordinated by CHRGJ in cooperation with the Institute for International Law and Justice, with support from the Public Interest Law Center. Twenty-nine Fellows were selected and the confirmation of Fellowship internships at 21 international, regional and non-governmental organizations is in progress. In addition to the internships, the Fellowship includes seminars to prepare Fellows for internships and a post-internship research paper. Congratulations to the new ILHR Fellows:
Nasser Alreshaid, LLM Candidate 2015

Varsha Apte, LLM Candidate 2015

Sarika Arya, Class of 2017

Jergen Bering, LLM Candidate 2015

Linde Bryk, LLM Candidate 2015

Emily Buist-Catherwood, LLM Candidate 2015

Amy Dawson, Class of 2017

Hendrik Denys, LLM Candidate 2015

Suzan ElTahhan, LLM Candidate 2015

Bryan Furst, Class of 2017

Olivia Greene, Class of 2017

Amith Gupta, Class of 2017

Lucas Hansen, Class of 2017

Regina Hsu, Class of 2017

Jiyae Hwang, Class of 2017

Charles Kopel, Class of 2017

Andrew Larkin, Class of 2017

Tarini Padudone, LLM Candidate 2015

Cristina Passoni, Class of 2017

Peck, Daniel, Class of 2017

Asma Peracha, Class of 2017

Mimi Powell, Class of 2017

Virginia Redkwa, LLM Candidate 2015

Natalia Restrepo-Ortiz, LLM Candidate 2015

Patricia Shnell, Class of 2016

Aman Singh, Class of 2016

Peter Speelman, Class of 2016

Amy Tan, Class of 2017

Kexin Zheng, Class of 2017

Human Rights Job Board

CHRGJ launched its Human Rights Job Board last spring to help students, scholars, and professionals identify options for work, competitive scholarship, or fellowships as CHRGJ becomes aware of them. Updated weekly, the site has become popular with students and post-graduates alike for capturing a broad range of opportunities in our field.

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