CHRGJ is proud to cosponsor the 2019 BHRH Lawyers’ Network Annual Human Rights in the US Symposium/CLE along with the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the Northeastern Law School Program on Human Rights  & the Global Economy, and the US Human Rights Network. Skadden Arps is our generous host this year.


9:00 – 9:30 A.M. – Registration & Coffee

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – Welcome & Overview

  • JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Director, Human Rights in the US Project, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. – Opening Remarks 

  • Dr. Rosalee Gonzalez, Executive Director, US Human Rights Network

10:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Session I:  Criminalization of Homelessness & the Right to Housing

Focusing on the case study of criminalization of homelessness, this opening panel will highlight how local and national organizations have used an array of human rights standards and strategies in advocacy, organizing, and litigation to challenge the criminalization of homelessness.  Speakers will discuss the human rights law and principles that inform this work, identify specific ways to bring human rights into domestic policy spaces and movement-building, and discuss specifically how engagement with UN treaty bodies and independent experts has been used to move the needle to advance the right to housing.


  • Eric Tars, Legal Director, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
  • Pete White, Executive Director & Founder, LA CAN
  • Erik Steinecker, Policy Analyst, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Sandra Contreras, NYC Right to Counsel Coalition


  • Jennifer Turner, Researcher, ACLU Human Rights Program

11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Break

11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m – Session II:  Leveraging Human Rights Standards & Strategies to Ensure Fulfillment of Basic Needs

The ability to enjoy an adequate standard of living free from discrimination is a bedrock of human rights.  Laws and policies that criminalize activities of daily life and penalize the inability to afford basic services contravene core economic and social rights protections and deprive individuals of basic needs, including in the arenas of water, sanitation, and health.  Increasingly federal, state and local policy seek to deter access to basic social protections and stigmatize recipients of public services, with a disproportionate impact on communities of color living in poverty, as well as immigrant communities.  These efforts violate principles of equality and non-discrimination, with impacts on the full range of human rights.  This session will explore how the human rights framework can be used to analyze and challenge laws that curtail access to a social safety net, and penalize individuals who seek to engage in daily activities, such as driving or receiving public benefits.  Panelists will discuss the short and long term impacts of criminalization, highlight emerging human rights strategies to raise the visibility of key community concerns, forge partnerships, and center the perspective of communities most impacted by rights violations.


  • Brittany Thomas, Legal Fellow, Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Catherine Flowers, Rural Development Manager, Equal Justice Initiative
  • Tara Houska, National Campaign Director, Honor the Earth (Invited)
  • Jovana Renteria, Puente Human Rights Movement


  • Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Associate Counsel, Latino Justice PRLDEF

1:00 p.m – 1:15 p.m: Break

1:15 p.m – 2:15 p.m. –  Lunchtime Keynote

  • Andrea Ritchie, Researcher-in-Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization, Barnard Center for Research on Women
    • Introduced by Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager, Center for Constitutional Rights

2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Session III:  Strategies to Respect and Promote the Health & Well-being of Pregnant People & Mothers

Across the country, women have been prosecuted for ending, allegedly causing harm, or merely risking harm, to their own pregnancies.  Punitive child welfare practices further undermine rights to health, privacy for families.  Existing laws and enforcement schemes violate rights to equality and autonomy and undermine public health goals.  Lawyers and organizers have engaged with human rights standards and mechanisms to highlight the interrelated rights violations that pregnant people and families experience, as well as the how these laws impact women differently on the basis of their identities. Panelists will explore the human rights principles that motivate their work, discuss work with UN Special Procedures, and Treaty Bodies, and share how this engagement informs advocacy and litigation.


  • Farah Diaz Tello, Senior Counsel, SIA Legal Team
  • Carrie Eisert, Policy Adviser, Amnesty International USA
  • Kara Wallis, Attorney, Bronx Defenders
  • Pilar Herrero, Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Reproductive Rights


  • Cindy Soohoo, Director, International Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, CUNY Law School

3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. –  Closing Remarks


Information Regarding CLE Credits

Columbia Law School has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Board as an Accredited Provider of CLE programs. Under New York State CLE regulations, this live transitional and non-transitional CLE Program will provide 4 credit hours that can be applied toward the Areas of Professional Practice requirement. This CLE credit is awarded only to New York attorneys for full attendance of the Program in its entirety.  Attorneys attending only part of the program are not eligible for partial credit. Attendance is determined by an attorney’s sign-in and sign-out, as shown in the Conference registers. On final sign-out, attorneys should also submit their completed Evaluation Form, provided at the Conference. Please note the NYS Certificates of Attendance will be sent to the email address as it appears in the register unless otherwise noted there.”

Conference Materials

Conference materials will be distributed to attendees. Printed review copies of the materials will be available at the conference. Registrants can request a printed copy.


Online registration will close for all transactions, including refunds, at 5pm on Tuesday, April 9. On-site registration will be available at the Conference, space permitting. Confirmed reservations are transferrable. Kindly notify the Human Rights Institute ( of transfers by the close of preregistration and otherwise as soon as possible

Registration Rates

Please note that all rates are ‘per person’ and, as flat fees, cannot be prorated according to attendance. The CLE is free for attorneys and persons who are serving in public interest organizations (including government, academic, and non- and not-for profit organizations) or are experiencing financial hardship.

Professional/Private Practice: $350
Public Interest/Nonprofit/Academia/Government: $0

Persons seeking a hardship scholarship should register using the online link above and then separately complete their registration by submitting a scholarship request, no later than April 4th, 2019 to the Human Rights Institute at  Requests, which will be answered, should detail in a few sentences the basis of the applicant’s need and the background to his or her interest. Please understand that without a complete scholarship request, the applicant may be notified that the scholarship registration has been cancelled.


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