Feb 2, 2016
5:00pm - 6:30pm    |    Lester Pollack Colloquium Room, 9th Floor, 245 Sullivan Street, New York, NY

Valid ID and RSVP required. RSVP here or email Anam Salem.

The UN Human Rights Council has endured many challenges since it was formed from the ashes of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2006. During its first four years of existence the Bush Administration decided not to substantially engage nor seek a seat on the 47-member Council citing both the excessive and awkward focus on Israel and the failure to address individual countries’ human rights abuses.

In 2009 President Obama evaluated the Council’s failings against the need for an assertive, credible global body to promote the aspirations defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2010 he appointed an ambassador to the Council with the directive to not just seek election to the Council but to use the determined and focused energy of the United States to fully engage and re-orient the Council towards its original intent: the protection of all human rights.

Ambassador Keith M. Harper, the United States Representative to the UN Human Rights Council will discuss the record of the first decade of the UN’s principal human rights body, with particular emphasis on the period of U.S. membership. What are the lessons learned?  What are the challenges and the successes? Has the work of the Council improved human rights discernably? And perhaps most importantly, what does the record indicate regarding when the US engages at the Council or when it remains disengaged.

Biography of Ambassador Keith Harper, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council

Ambassador Keith M. Harper (Cherokee) is the first Native American of a federally recognized tribe to be appointed a United States Ambassador. Nominated by President Obama, he was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 4, 2014.

Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Harper was a Partner at the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, where he was chair of the Native American Practice Group. From 2007 to 2008, he served as a Justice on the Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and from 2001 to 2007, was an Appellate Justice on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court. While Senior Staff Attorney for the Native American Rights Fund (1995 to 2006), his work on the Cobell v. Salazar class-action lawsuit resulted in a $3.4 billion settlement in 2009. Ambassador Harper’s academic positions have included Adjunct Professor at Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, and he was a Professorial Lecturer at the American University Washington College of Law. Ambassador Harper served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce on the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals and began his career as a Litigation Associate with Davis, Polk Wardwell in New York. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and J.D. from New York University School of Law. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, Ambassador Harper served as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.


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