Oct 21, 2019
12:45pm - 2:00pm    |    Furman Hall Room 212, 245 Sullivan Street, New York, NY 10012

Please join the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice for this exciting and timely conversation about efforts—from the UN level to the most local—to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to water.

Industrial mining and other megaprojects pose serious risks of contamination and diminished water in communities worldwide. The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water and Sanitation, Mr. Léo Heller, recently published a report that examined the impact of megaprojects, and presents a megaproject cycle framework for the realization of the rights to water and sanitation.  Special Rapporteur Heller is joined by Global Justice Clinic Director Margaret Satterthwaite and Haitian human rights activist Nixon Boumba. Professor Satterthwaite and Mr. Boumba recently completed a baseline study on the right to water in communities threatened by mining in Northern Haiti. The primary goal of the study, conducted together with local residents and organizations as well as a team of hydrologists, is to establish baseline water conditions before mining activity occurs. If companies contaminate the water in the future, communities will aim to use the data to hold companies to account.

About the Speakers

The session will be moderated by Ellie Happel—Adjunct Professor of the Global Justice Clinic and director of the Clinic’s project on Human Rights in Haiti’s Emerging Mining Sector—engaging the following panelists:

Nixon Boumba is a Haitian human rights activist and founding member of the Kolektif Jistis Min or Justice in Mining Collective. Boumba is a member of the Movement for Popular Democracy (MODEP), an organization with the mission to support communities’ efforts to transform the conditions of their lives, including access to economic and educational opportunity.  He is a graduate of state university, where he studied sociology. Boumba works as a consultant for American Jewish World Services (AJWS), serving as the liaison between AJWS and Haitian social movement organizations. Boumba has visited Mexico, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Costa Rica and Panama to learn more about strategies to defend the interests of communities affected by extractive industry activity.

Léo Heller (Brazil) is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, appointed in November 2014. He is a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and was previously Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Professor Margaret Satterthwaite is the faculty director of the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and a co-chair and faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. She is a Professor of Clinical Law and director of the Global Justice Clinic. Her recent scholarship has involved cross-disciplinary work aimed at advancing the evidence base for human rights advocacy. This collaborative work includes Measuring What We Treasure and Treasuring What We Measure: The Promise and Perils of Global Monitoring for the Promotion of Equality in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector (co-authored with Inga Winkler and Catarina de Albuquerque). Professor Satterthwaite has served as a consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and has extensive experience supporting communities in Haiti and Guyana to advance their right to water.


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