The doctrine of laissez-faire capitalism holds that the common by xiw67167


									               HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
              Vol. 41                                                                     Summer 2003
          Human Rights Advocates                                  new draft norms for transnational corporations and
                                                                  ongoing challenges to implementation. The interns
             Annual Meeting                                       closed the meeting with a special presentation to
                                                                  Connie de la Vega to thank her for her support,
         Human Rights Advocates held its Annual                   guidance and wisdom throughout the year.
Meeting on April 30 at Boalt Hall. The meeting
began with a welcome reception for members and                       HRA PARTICIPATION AT UNITED
guests. Chair Julianne Traylor opened the official                        NATIONS MEETINGS
meeting, reporting on a number of important human
rights issues during a difficult year. Approximately                             By Connie de la Vega
30 HRA members and guests introduced themselves.
Board Member Connie de la Vega distributed the                            Human Rights Advocates members
Annual Financial Report and noted the significant                 participated at the U.N. Commission on the Status
amount of work accomplished this year within                      of Women (CSW) and the U.N. Commission on
HRA‟s very small budget.                                          Human Rights (CHR). In March, four students
                                                                  from the University of San Francisco School of
        HRA members then voted by secret ballot to                Law (USF) participated as Frank Newman Interns
elect HRA Board Members for the 2003-2004 year.                   at the CSW in New York: Catrinel Butnaru, Connie
Advisory Board Member Rita Maran counted the                      Cabello, Jeremiah Johnson, and Hekani Jakhalu
ballots. By majority vote, the following Board                    (Ms. Cabello and Mr. Johnson were supported by
Members were reelected to the Board: Connie de la                 the Edith Coliver Internship Fund). They were
Vega, Julianne Cartwright Taylor, Cindy Cohn, Anne                assisted by Board Member Nicole Phillips and
Wagley, Nicole Phillips, Michelle Leighton and                    former Intern Mary Piasta, also from U.S.F. In
Kristin Lamson.                                                   April, eight Frank Newman Interns participated at
                                                                  the CHR in Geneva: Tina Rose Camba, Sarah
         Connie de la Vega gave an overview of the                Canepa, Manish Daftari, Matthew Heaphy, Coleen
work done by 13 Frank C. Newman and Edith                         Liebmann, Conchita Lozano, and Helen Paik all
Coliver interns over the past year, including writing             from U.S.F. A grant from the Jesuit Foundation at
reports, short statements to the various United                   U.S.F., in addition to the Frank Newman Fund,
Nations Human Rights bodies, lobbying plans and                   made it possible for so many students to attend.
oral intervention statements on a number of topics at             The students were supervised by Board Member
the Commission on the Status of Women, the                        Connie de la Vega and were joined by Anne James,
Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of                  a lawyer from Washington D.C. Another U.S.F.
Human Rights and the Commission on Human                          student, Sayareh Dehzad, prepared written
Rights. The topics included trafficking, arbitrary                statements on the trafficking of women and
detention, toxics, right to water, juvenile death                 children for both Commissions. The students‟
penalty and migrant workers, among others. Eight of               reports on their work follow below. Documents
the interns then presented their experiences and                  cited in the articles can be found at the U.N. web
accomplishments at the U.N. meetings, which are                   site: <>
discussed in more detail in the following articles.
                                                                                  Table of Contents
          At the close of the meeting, Advisory Board
Member Rita Maran reported that HRA signed on to a
                                                                  Summary of HRA Activities at the UN Commission
letter with the ACLU and a number of other human rights
organizations regarding serious concerns with the Patriot
                                                                  Working Group on Transnational Corporations
Act II. Board Member Michelle Leighton also reported on
                                                                  ...............................… 1
a new “Right to Know” initiative, which follows the
                                                                  Transnational Corporations and Human Rights
publishing of Beyond Good Deeds, regarding corporate
                                                                  ..............................… 4
responsibility. Michelle also reported on the status of the
                                                                  Migrant Worker Rights ……….…………. 7

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                      Vol. 41

Review of Death Penalty Cases                                  resolution it requested a separate vote on the
                                                               paragraph addressing the execution of juveniles and
         In addition to the work of the interns, HRA           then was the sole no against it. This resulted in a
co-sponsored an Informative Meeting on “The Basic              strong reply by not only by Uruguay, who on behalf
Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy             of GRULAC stressed that the administration of the
and Reparation for Victims of Violations of                    death penalty to minors was against the norms of
International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.”              international law but also Ireland, who on behalf of
                                                               the European Union stated that the proposed
                                                               deletions by the U.S. were not acceptable. (See
         The panelists were Gabriella Echeverria,              U.N. Press Release, 59th Session, 25 April 2003,
from REDRESS, Mona Rishmawi, Senior Advisor to                 afternoon.)
the High Commissioner (OHCHR), Patricio Utrearas,
from the International Commission of Jurists, and                       The actions and statements by the U.S.
Jens Modvig, from International Rehabilitation                 have made it a lot less effective as an advocate for
Council for Torture Victims. They reported on the              human rights. This was reflected in the briefing
status of the draft of the Basic Principles, which had         sessions      put     on    for     non-governmental
resulted from the consultative meeting held with               organizations, which were sparsely attended, in
independent experts Theo van Boven and Cherif                  sharp contrast with past years when it was difficult
Bassiouni in the Fall of 2002. (See E/CN.4/2003/63.)           to get into the room. The HRA delegation was able
While there had been agreement on various                      to work cooperatively with the U.S. delegation with
principles, an enforcement mechanism is still needed.          respect to the rights of migrants as will be discussed
That is the goal of the resolution sponsored by Chile,         below. Many of the positions taken, however, were
which was passed by consensus by the CHR this year.            contrary to the views of the American public,
(See E/CN.4/2003/RES/72). The U.S. stated that it              something that will not change until more people
was prepared to join in consensus on the right to              take an interest in the meetings at the U.N.
restitution, but expressed concern that the
consultative process relied too heavily on academic                      HRA BOARD MEMBERS
experts at the expense of Government experts, and                         RECEIVE AWARDS
therefore it did not accept any one text as the sole
basis for discussion.                                          Connie de la Vega received the 2003 Matthew O.
                                                               Tobriner Public Service Award

                                                               David Weissbrodt received the Human Rights Award
                                                               from Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights

                                                               C.M. Eya Nchama was elected City Councilmember
                                                               from Grand Saconnex in Geneva

                                                                    Trafficking of Women and Children

                                                                          Introduction by Sayareh Dehzad
        Event at USF
                                                                       My experience working on the issue of
                                                               Trafficking in Women and Children has been
         That statement by the U.S. reflected its less
                                                               educational, thought-provoking, and compelling.
than cooperative stance on many issues. However, its
                                                               My area of focus on this issue was multi-faceted.
positions were not supported by other countries and
                                                               The first project was a long report on this topic,
its influence was less important than it has been in the
                                                               which produced a guidepost for the issues that
past. Indeed, it often was the sole no vote on some
                                                               would ultimately be used in the shortened written
important resolutions such as those on the right to
                                                               statements submitted to the Commission on the
food (E/CN.4/2003/RES/25) and the right to health
                                                               Status of Women (CSW) in New York
(E/CN.4/2003/RES/28). On the rights of the child

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                       Vol. 41

(E/CN.6/2003/NGO/5) and the Commission on                      helped me scratch the surface of just ONE of the
Human Rights in Geneva (E/CN.4/2003/NGO/40).                   issues related to the intricate field of International
                                                               Human Rights, and has raised my consciousness
         The first written statement, submitted to the         about the depth and importance of this very
Commission on the Status of Women, under the                   compelling area of law.
auspices of Human Rights Advocates, dealt with two
inter-related issues: 1) the demand that creates the            Commission on the Status of Women
market for trafficked victims and 2) in particular, the
role of UN peacekeeping troops and other military                            Addressing Demand
personnel in contributing to that demand.
                                                                                 by Connie Cabello
         The second written statement, sent to the
Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, was a bit                         This past March five students attended the
more detailed, in that there were a number of added            47th Session of the Commission on the Status of
issues we addressed besides demand and the role of             Women (CSW) in New York concerning the issues
the military in fostering demand. This was due in              of Violence Against Women and Girls. It was an
large part to the fact that last year‟s session on this        exciting time to be there as the Security Council
topic had already recognized the introduction of               was simultaneously meeting in closed sessions
demand as a concept just as critical, if not mores, than       upstairs at the UN headquarters, assessing whether
the issue of supply previously addressed in past years.        to back the United States‟ effort to wage war in
                                                               Iraq. The issues we discussed in the downstairs
These additional issues included:                              meeting rooms of the Session of the CSW were
                                                               thus inherently inter-linked with the issues being
    1) The importance of educating parents of                  discussed by the Security Council; particularly the
       children vulnerable to procurers because of             effects of war on women and children.
       the impoverished conditions they live in.
    2) The      importance     of    educating    UN                    In order to strengthen my knowledge
       peacekeeping troops on the intrinsic value of           regarding the trafficking industry, I researched
       their missions and how to better serve the              dozens      of    articles   written     by various
       communities they purport to assist.                     nongovernmental          organizations       (NGO‟s),
    3) The need to stop the exploitation of young              newspapers, and independent journalists. I soon
       victims, particularly because of the nature of          became aware of the horrors of the trafficking
       the network as a perpetuating cycle of                  industry and the true extent of the problem.
       violence that is hard to break away from…               Trafficking is the largest form of organized crime
    4) Addressing the appalling fact that younger              around the world, after the trafficking of drugs. It
       and younger children are being ensnared in              is a particularly heinous crime in that it subjects not
       these horrible networks, for the mistaken               only women but also children to various degrading,
       belief that they will not be infected with HIV          dangerous, and inhumane conditions.              After
       or AIDS, and thus, will be “clean” for the              familiarizing myself with the trafficking trade, I
       customers; and                                          soon became impassioned to advocate for the
    5) Calling on nations to research, report on, and          victims of this industry and hopefully make strides
       take measures to reduce the demand for                  at the Commission on this important issue. In my
       commercial sex.                                         report regarding the trafficking industry I urged the
                                                               delegates to include the issue of demand in their
     I worked with several people who traveled to              Final Outcome Document as well as highlighted the
both the CSW and the Commission on Human                       various manifestations of the trafficking industry.
Rights, to represent Human Rights Advocates at both            With the knowledge I had attained, along with the
forums, on this very important topic. Drafting a letter        report I had written, I went to the UN armed with
to the Philippine Delegate, helping edit an oral               the resources to argue and hopefully make a
statement to be read at the Commission on Human                positive impact on the trafficking issue.
Rights, and brain-storming on who to lobby and how
were just some of the skills I practiced and honed in                  During the two weeks at the UN, my
this process. I am grateful for this opportunity. It has       colleagues and I split off in different directions and

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                     Vol. 41

participated in a variety of caucuses in order to ensure       and consider it an extremely valuable educational
that our issues were addressed in as many NGO                  and professional experience.
statements as possible. In almost every caucus the
issue of trafficking came to the forefront in one form             Addressing the Causes of Trafficking
or another. Whether it was in the context of
indentured children in India or women prostituted in                           by Jeremiah Johnson
Thailand, the them was the same; trafficking, and its
various manifestations infects almost every sector of                   Rising above the East River, the United
the global population.          Together we drafted            Nations overlooks Brooklyn to the world beyond.
statements urging delegates to include the trafficking         This past March, that world was listening to every
of women and children, as well as the demand aspects           pause made in connection with the Security
of trafficking, as a crucial issue related to overall          Council, hardly hearing the raised voices concerned
Violence Against Women and Children.                           with the elimination of all forms of violence against
                                                               women and girls emanating from Conference Room
        We not only allied with various NGO‟s in               2. Human Rights Advocates was among the voices
lobbying delegates through joint statements, but we            participating in the Commission on the Status of
also lobbied country delegates in person, to ensure            Women. I went to the Commission concerned with
that our issues were addressed in the Outcome                  trafficking of women and girls, particularly the role
Document. We were able to listen to the various                of “demand” and education.
country delegates and also read their submitted
documents relaying their positions on the issue of                      Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for
Violence Against Women.          This gave us the              Economic and Social Affairs, opened the Session
opportunity to align ourselves with the delegates in           with remarks of “synergy” between the
favor of our position and suggest to those that                Commission and other UN bodies.              Country
overlooked our issue to reconsider it.                         interventions followed with delegates addressing
                                                               the demand of trafficked persons, actually saying
        Although most of the delegates were                    “demand.”      Though not a member of the
receptive to addressing the problems of trafficking of         Commission, the Philippines was the first to call for
women and children, and most agreed that programs              action, then continued to remind the Commission
addressing demand need to be implemented, not all              that marching orders were needed, not talking
were receptive to the idea of specifically addressing          points. Canada chimed in: the outcome document
the role of the military and peacekeepers in                   must be more than words, it must be sharp, focused,
perpetuating and oftentimes, creating this problem.            action oriented. The Commission was making a
Of course the one country receptive to the idea was            good, ambitious start; I was excited and optimistic.
Iraq, which emphasized the effects that war in
general has on women and children and the various                       Throughout the Commission, women
forms of violence they endure as a result.                     approached me, congratulating for attending. If
                                                               attendance were all that is needed, violence toward
        The Commission was unfortunately unable to             women would have ended a long time ago. I was
reach a consensus on a final document. Various                 not at the Commission to speak on behalf; I was at
reasons were given. This is highly indicative of the           the Commission to speak to. I was there to talk
need for changes within the Commission on the                  about educational programs that reduce the demand
Status of Women. Compared to past years, the                   that causes trafficking. My research showed
commission has definitely improved. This year                  education was an answer, providing realistic
Human Rights Advocates was able to make an oral                economic opportunities to women and girls,
intervention during one of the sessions of r the first         sensitizing government authorities to trafficking
time. This was facilitated by the recommendations of           issues and eliminating men‟s ignorance toward the
our past delegation regarding the work of the CSW.             dangers     and    effects    surrounding     sexual
       Regardless of the lack of consensus on a final
Outcome Document, my fellow USF students and I                         It was important for the outcome document
view our participation in the UN‟s 47th Session on the         to specifically connect education for women and
Commission on the Status of Women as a success                 girls with the elimination of violence against

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                    Vol. 41

women and girls. During the Commission, I tried to            would have to carry on without its marching orders.
be a facilitator. I considered proposals made by              Though the real success of the Commission could
China, Syria, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Sudan and Libya              never have been found in a piece of paper; this
attempting to connect them into four manageable               Commission discussed tough issues, exchanged
(and hopefully agreeable) categories relating to the          views and agreed there was a problem. Delegates
root causes of violence against women and girls.              and NGO participants left the Commission better
These categories were gender inequality in education,         off. True, the Commission failed in process,
economic development, health and safety and                   however there is a difference between process and
political participation. Overall, HRA‟s proposed              progress. Human rights protection is not found in
language highlighted the comprehensive and                    words, but in custom, practice. That is the real
connected approach needed to eliminate violence               success of this experience.       The world will
against women.                                                continue, and countries have shown they are
                                                              committed to a better the world. It‟s putting it in
        I carefully reviewed other countries                  words, that‟s the hard part.
proposals, advocating minor changes. For example,
after I made some changes, the United States
proposal should have read: “recognizing that the lack                      Causes of Trafficking
of education and economic independence increases                               by Catrinel Butnaru
women‟s vulnerability to trafficking, sexual
exploitation and other forms of violence, take all
necessary measures to strengthen women‟s [HRA:                        I am an LLM student at the University of
equal] access to education and economic                       San Francisco, School of Law. As a part of the
opportunities by [HRA: and] protecting [HRA: and              Human Rights clinic program I participated to the
promote] their human rights and fundamental                   47th Session of the Commission of the Status of
freedoms.” This, and other proposals, emphasized              Women from 3 to14 March, 2003 at United Nations
that protecting human rights is not enough to end the         Headquarters in New York.
violence, nations need to establish programs, like
education, micro lending and job training that address                 Women‟s trafficking is a well-known
the root causes of all forms of violence against              international problem and concern. The growing
women and girls.                                              number of women forced into trafficking, the ever-
                                                              growing number of countries as countries of origin
         The NGO Community took a strong stand:               or destination of trafficking, and the lack of
male perpetrators of violence must be punished. I             adequate prevention mechanisms are the overriding
worked hard to ensure that any punishment must also           reasons for this concern. For decades after the war,
consider the misinformation, stereotypes and                  Eastern European countries suffered under
misconceptions that may lead to and perpetuate                Communist regimes and civil, political and cultural
violence in all its forms. Punishment should have a           rights were violated. Under this oppressive situation
rehabilitative aspect, ending the cycle of violence.          women‟s rights were less acknowledged and more
HRA promoted language introduced by New                       abused. The new geopolitical situation in Eastern
Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Zambia calling for           Europe brought new realities and women remained
nations to support measures to encourage “attitudinal         victimized. As a Romanian, I felt personally
and behavioral change on the part of the perpetrator.”        concerned about Romania as a country of origin
                                                              and transit of trafficking and I wanted to contribute
         As I left on a cold and clear Friday morning,        to the fight against the proliferation of trafficking
I recognized most delegates. I was familiar with the          by writing a report on this subject.
different draft proposals, and they included “demand”
and referred to rehabilitation for perpetrators. I felt                Trafficking is nothing but another form of
comfortable leaving for New Jersey, leaving the vote          violence and discrimination against women. In my
in the hands of the Commission. All the Commission            paper I presented an overview of trafficking
had to do was agree by consensus, and it wasn‟t like          activities taking place in Eastern Europe and
there wouldn‟t be a vote. But like the second floor,          explained the reasons behind the proliferation of
there would be no vote, and there would be no                 trafficking.      By reducing and eliminating
conclusion, and the world beyond the East River               employment discrimination and sexual harassment

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                         Vol. 41

we may help in the international effort and prevent                        It was a very enriching experience to attend
trafficking of women from happening. An                           the 47th session of the Committee on the Status of
international effort is needed to combat this problem.            Women(CSW). We were able to see how the UN
                                                                  mechanism works and also be a part of that
        This spring, the 47th Session of the                      process.
Commission on the Status of Women was held at                             I worked on „Domestic violence and the
United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 3                   role of the State‟ in the context of developing
to14 March 2003. Countries‟ delegations and                       countries and Muslim countries and how domestic
representatives of non-governmental organizations                 violence against women is perpetuated indirectly
participated at this meeting. I represented the Human             under the guise of religion, tradition and custom. In
Rights Advocates. My mission was to lobby the                     addition, I looked at the issue of government
Romanian delegation by persuading them regarding                  dismissal of domestic violence as a family matter or
the need for implementation of the non-                           acts committed by private actors and thus not
discriminatory employment laws and by suggesting                  accountable under the international human rights
full adoption of the sexual harassment law. One of the            law.
people I spoke with was the First Secretary of the
Permanent Mission of Romania to the U.N. I also                             As of June 2002, 170 countries have
approached some other NGOs such as the “European                  ratified Convention on Elimination of All Forms of
Women‟s Lobby”. The recommendations on my                         Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and 56
report were implemented in the final draft submitted              ratifications contain reservation clauses. One of the
to the Commission on the Status of Women.1 One of                 most common reservations is that the treaty does
the recommendations regarding non-discriminatory                  not support „personal law‟ and religious law‟.
employment law was omitted, so I contacted the                    Personal laws determine rights in matters relating to
representative of the EU Labor Department who                     marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance,
assured me that they are going to put this                        guardianship and custody. They perpetuate
recommendation on the EU‟s agenda.                                women‟s subordination within the family. Personal
                                                                  law obstructs women‟s participation in political and
                 Human Rights Advocates role at the               public life and significantly contributes to the cause
U.N. was very important in helping focus the problem              of continuing violence against women. And this
regarding trafficking of women. We were able to                   discrimination effected by personal law is
remind and pressure delegations and organizations,                perpetuated by the state‟s accommodation of
who have the power to change, enforce, protect and                powerful orthodoxies. In many Muslim countries,
eliminate violence against women‟s rights, to keep                law is equated to religion, and therefore, as
this subject on their agenda.                                     governmental authorities argue, it should remain
                                                                  free from interference by international community.
        From a personal point of view this experience             But unless these laws are amended, women cannot
was very relevant to me, in as much as I experienced              be empowered to combat violence and cultural
how the mechanism works, the emphasis on                          practices that frustrates and denies them equality
language, and the process involved in drafting the                and dignity.
conclusions submitted by the Commission on the
Status of Women.                                                          Urging the governments to withdraw their
                                                                  reservations which are in conflict with the
                                                                  objectives of CEDAW was one of the main
                  Domestic Violence                               recommendations of my paper.
                     by Hekani Jakhalu                                    The CSW session was for two weeks. The
                                                                  first week focused on specific countries, as
                                                                  delegates presented their oral statements on what
                                                                  and how much their governments have achieved
  See the report entitled: “Women‟s human rights and              over the years. Some countries used the process as
elimination of all forms of violence against women and            a political platform. The Pakistan delegation
girls as defined in the Beijing Platform for Action and the
                                                                  focused on how the Indian government has taken
outcome document of the twenty-third special session of
the General Assembly-03/03”.                                      no action against the violence caused against the

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                      Vol. 41

Muslim women in the 2002 Gujarat incident.
Palestine delegates objected to Israel‟s silence on the
atrocities committed by them against Palestinian

         The second week focused on the language of
the draft report. The commission came out with a
draft of 26 points. Each point was discussed and
deliberated in detail. Different countries had different
views and opinions depending on their countries
stand on the issue. For example section 3 (h) of the
draft stated, „Refrain from invoking custom, tradition
or practices in the name of religion or culture to avoid
obligations to eliminate violence against women‟. In                Commission on Human Rights
general all delegates agreed that the language of
„refrain‟ should be replaced with „prohibit‟ to have a               Trafficking of Women & Children
stronger impact. But in this paragraph, some
countries such as Pakistan and Iran wanted to do                                by Tina Rose Camba
away with the word „religion‟ which was strongly
supported by the United States delegates on the                         I worked on Agenda Item 12 on Violence
ground that getting into the religion issue would be           Against Women, on the issue of trafficking of
too sensitive to some countries.                               women and girls, with a particular focus on the
                                                               demand for trafficking created by militaries and
        As HRA members at the commission we                    United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Troops. The
used our research as a tool to lobby with the                  trafficking of women and girls is a leading source
delegates. In the second week during the general               of international criminal activity. An alarming
debate, we tried to identify the stand of different            demand for such trafficked persons is found in the
county delegates on our respective issues. We                  communities surrounding militaries and UN
approached countries not in favor of our issues to             Peacekeeping Troops.        International strategies,
discuss with them why they should be more flexible             including fact-finding, the generation of reports and
in changing their views and gave them our research             implementation of educational programs geared
papers in support of our position. We also approached          toward the victims and customers of demand, are
countries who were in favor of our position.                   urgently needed to address the growing number of
                                                               trafficked persons.
         It was a rewarding experience to watch how
people from different parts of the world with different                In the past two years, the clinic participants
political, social, economic, religion and cultural             were successful in getting the issue of demand into
differences come together under one umbrella and try           the Resolution on Trafficking of Women and Girls.
to reach consensus. It was also interesting to observe         It was my assignment this year to lobby and get the
how some countries were very passionate and very               issue of the demand caused by militaries and UN
involved with the whole process and how some                   Peacekeeping Troops into this year‟s Resolution.
countries would be just passive participants.
                                                                       When I spoke to the Philippine Delegate in
         Yes, United Nations is truly a body, which is
                                                               charge of the Resolution, he informed me that the
trying to make this world a better place. The question         Commission had requested member states to issue
is, how much our leaders are doing to take this home
                                                               bi-annual resolutions, and that basically there was
and implementing it.
                                                               not going to be a resolution on trafficking this year.
        Lastly, I would like to mention that it was            He also told me that a fellow non-governmental
due to the efforts and commitment of Prof. Connie de           agency, Franciscans, International, was working
la Vega that all the work of the HRA delegation to             within the UN General Assembly to get “A Year of
the CSW was successful.                                        Trafficking” in place for 2004. At that point, I
                                                               shifted my focus to speaking to those parties who
                                                               would be working on my issue at the General

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                    Vol. 41

Assembly. I also gave my proposed language to the             Going to the Commission on Human Rights in
Office of the High Commissioner, for use for the              Geneva was an experience beyond words. I thank
resolution on trafficking of women and girls at the           Human Rights Advocates and Professor Connie de
General Assembly.                                             la Vega for providing such a unique opportunity. I
                                                              wish that every law student at USF could have the
         The remainder of my work at the UN                   experience of learning about the UN mechanisms
included attending meetings held by women‟s rights            and actually having the opportunity to participate
organizations, and hosted by the Special Rapporteur           with these UN bodies, and bring about meaningful
of Violence Against Women. In these meetings,                 change one contact at a time.
women came from all over the glove to share their
stories of the successes and challenges they have had                       Arbitrary Detention
while advocating for women‟s rights. I learned so
much about how the laws in different countries                       by Manish Daftari and Matthew Heaphy
underscore the false idea that women are inferior to
men. For example, one woman from Uganda Land                           This semester, we continued the Clinic‟s
Laws discussed some examples of inheritance laws,             work on the question of arbitrary detention under
where widows had to go through a “cleansing                   Agenda Item 11 at the UN Commission on Human
process” (systematic rape by a hired “cleanser”) in           Rights. Before traveling to Geneva in April as
order to inherit her husband‟s property. A female             Frank C. Newman Interns representing Human
leader from Pakistan talked about how women in                Rights Advocates, we collected information on the
Pakistan cannot own property. She used herself as an          recent special registration requirement mandated by
example. Even though she is extremely educated and            the USA Patriot Act and other instances of arbitrary
in a place of power in Pakistan, her property is              detention in the United States following September
registered under her husband‟s name. I had the                11. We noted with special attention the problem of
pleasure of meeting Birte Scholz, a former USF                denial of the right to counsel in the context of
student and clinic participant, who is advocating for         arbitrary detention as well as the systematic erosion
the right to housing for women. I was so impressed            of civil and political rights for Middle Eastern and
by the grass roots efforts and the passion of these           Muslim individuals.
women to advocate for women‟s rights in
circumstances much worse than what we face here in                    Using the United States as an example, we
America. It made me believe that change happens,              examined the legality of legislation and government
albeit slowly, in the international human rights arena.       practices under various international legal
                                                              instruments, including the Convention on the
         Lastly, this progress is exemplified through         Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
the service of the Special Rapporteur on the Violence         and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We
Against Women. She took her assignment nine years             investigated cases following September 11 in which
ago, at a time when “women‟s rights” were not seen            Middle Easterners and Muslims were singled out,
as rights unto themselves. She provided an overview           though      never      charged,     and     detained
of the change that has come about in her nine years of        incommunicado without access to counsel. We also
service, and that through her reports and the joint           found cases where individuals of Muslim and
efforts of women‟s groups in various countries,               Middle Eastern descent were detained when they
women‟s rights are now recognized. This progress is           reported to register under the special registration
also revealed in words from the High Commissioner             requirement mandated by the USA Patriot Act and
on Human Rights, one of the two male panelists and            discriminatorily carried by the Department of
attendees at the meeting on Violence Against                  Justice. We also investigated the question of
Women. He spoke about the need for men, not just              inhuman and degrading treatment in this context,
women to recognize that women‟s rights are not just           highlighting reports of unnecessary body cavity
women‟s issues. He emphasized that women‟s rights             searches, hosing down of detainees and cramming
can be more fully achieved when men start taking              detainees into overcrowded cells.
responsibility and look at how their actions deny
women‟s rights.                                                       The primary focus of the report we
                                                              submitted to the Working Group on Arbitrary
                                                              Detention was the practice of moving detainees

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                         Vol. 41

frequently in the weeks immediately following                   education, persistence and timing in trying to
detention and its relationship to the denial of the right       influence resolutions and calling attention to human
to counsel. In both the special registration detentions         rights violations that warrant investigation. Most
and post-September 11 detentions, individuals were              importantly, it showed us the continuing
moved frequently in the weeks immediately                       importance of the global dialogue on human rights
following detention – usually in the first few days – a         that is fostered by the Commission.
practice which effectively denies access to counsel by
disorienting detainees and making it difficult for              Report available at:
family and hired counsel to locate detainees. We hope 
that our report will help to highlight this practice and        mbol)/E.CN.4.2003.NGO.55.En?Opendocument
provide a basis for an investigation by the working             Arbitrary Detention Resolution available at:
        In our lobbying efforts, we discovered that             Press release on adoption of Arbitrary Detention
countries such as the United States, contrary to efforts        Resolution available at:
to delegitimize the United Nations and international  
law, were actually quite concerned with small                   1/B3C62AE002AEDED4C1256D1100520211?ope
changes to resolutions that might impact their                  ndocument
obligations under international law. In one drafting
session, the United States delegate stressed to the             Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Illicit
French delegate that some rights civil and political             Transfer of Toxics: Privatization of Water
rights were derogable in states of emergency. We
decided to incorporate this notion in our oral                                   by Coleen Liebmann
statement, highlighting the fact that discrimination
based on religion or national origin is not derogable.                   My two projects focused on economic,
In addition, we emphasized that the rights to counsel           social and cultural rights, which tend to be the least
and to be free of arbitrary detention can only be               considered rights in the United States. The first
derogated from if a state of emergency is declared.             project looked at the adverse effects of the illicit
The derogation is reported to the other parties to the          transport and dumping of toxic substances. The
Convention, and the reasons for the derogation are              second project was utilities, particularly water
stated. We also approached the United States                    distribution.
delegation on this subject. They claimed that there
has been no derogation from these rights and said that                   I focused on the need for states to take
they were not aware of the denial of rights we                  proactive measures to regulate the activities of
reported.                                                       multinationals operating within their borders. This
                                                                is particularly essential in the developing world,
         While the precise language we sought in the            where these activities can effectively prevent
arbitrary detention resolution was not included by the          people from realizing the full enjoyment of
French delegate, we worked actively with the French             economic, social and cultural rights such as the
delegation to be sure to address the right to counsel           right to life, health and a healthy environment.
without threatening the mandate of the Working
Group on arbitrary detention. The resolution was                          The illicit transport of toxic wastes includes
adopted by consensus without a vote on April 23,                the movement of wastes from one territory to
2003. The language we helped to draft was added as              another, where, often the latter territory may not
Operative Paragraph 3(d), reading “The Commission               have the technological capabilities to process
on Human Rights … [e]ncourages the Governments                  wastes and make them less harmful to the health of
concerned … [t]o pay special attention, during states           its citizens. Of particular concern is the movement
of emergency, to the exercise of those rights that              of toxic wastes that are banned in the country of
ensure protection against arbitrary detention.”                 expert, an issue that we were able to lobby on very
         This experience gave us valuable insight into          successfully last year. We also focused on the
how the United Nations works as well as the reality             concern that many states are often either unable or
of representing a non-governmental organization at              unwilling to enforce their own environmental laws
the world body. In many cases, it is a question of self-        to protect the health of their citizens and effective

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                    Vol. 41

international instruments don‟t exist to force                 shut down by the Mexican government in 1994, its
multinationals to adhere to international human rights         owner, a U.S. citizen, crossed the border back into
standards.                                                     the United States, despite outstanding arrest
                                                               warrants, charging him with gross environmental
         In China, in the area known as Guiyu,                 pollution. According to the Mexican government,
approximately 100,000 migrant workers were                     he left behind more than 6000 metric tons of toxins.
employed breaking apart and processing obsolete
computers from North America, due to restrictions on                    Children in the local workers community
dumping in the United States. 21st century wastes are          have experienced sever nose bleeds and lost their
being recycled using 19th century technologies.                hair in clumps. There has also been a surge in the
Workers sort plastic by heating it with a cigarette            number of infants born with anencephaly, a fatal
lighter. Many complained of headaches. Women and               defect in which babies are born with littler or no
girls were seen soaking circuit boards in molten lead          brain or skull.
solder heated in woks in order to remove computer
chips for resale. After the chips are separated the                    Neither the government of Mexico nor the
lead is simply poured onto the ground. This industry           company has yet provided any clean-up, and trade
has severely polluted the land, air and water.                 agreements between the US and Mexico do not
                                                               provide an effective mechanism for the victims to
         Improper disposal of e-waste that contains            see a remedy from either. Further, the government
heavy metals and pollutants poses a significant threat         of Mexico failed to extradite Mr. Kahn, despite the
to human health, leading to respiratory illness, skin          criminal charges. The statute of limitations on
infections, stomach disease and other conditions.              these charges ran in 1999.
Computer or television monitors containing cathode
ray tubes, typically contain enough lead to be                          A cleanup of the site could cost $6 million
classified as hazardous waste when being recycled or           or more. In late 2002, the state of Baja California
disposed of. A typical crt computer monitor may                and Kahn filed a joint loan request for $800,000
contain up to eight pounds of lead. Lead is among              from the North American Development Bank,
the most potent neurological toxins known. Guiyu               which was created as part of NAFTA. A bank
residents reported that children there suffered medical        official said the request is being reviewed. One
problems including breathing ailments, and a surge in          concern is that the loan might not be sufficient to
leukemia cases.                                                cover the cost of cleanup.

         Despite legislation passed by the Chinese                      Multinationals are also making their
government and some recent crackdowns, electronic              presence felt around the world through privatization
waste continues to be processed in China under                 of basic infrastructure services, such as water,
similar conditions to those described here. I had the          sanitation, and electricity. These services play a
opportunity to talk to the Chinese delegate working            critical role in the development of sales and local
on these issues. She agreed to discuss the possibility         communities, with important direct and indirect
of inviting the Special Rapporteur on Toxics to come           links to living standards and economic growth.
to China to investigate the current conditions under
which electronic wastes are being recycled.                             The role of government in the provision of
                                                               basic infrastructure goods and services has changed
        This second case example demonstrates the              dramatically in both developed and developing
problems associated with the movement of industries            countries over the past two decades. In many
to nations where those responsible for the production          countries, engaging in private sector in
of toxic waste may be able to escape responsibility            infrastructure financing and operations has resulted
for cleanup.                                                   in a number of major benefits. These benefits
        For more than a decade, an American-owned              include access to private finance for expanding
company, Metales y Derivados was twice fined by                services, greater incentives for efficiency, and
Mexico‟s Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al                 fewer burdens on limited public resources.
Ambiente (PROFEPA) for violating Mexican
environmental laws by failing to repatriate or                          Trade agreements have increasingly
nationalize the waste produced. After the plant was            reflected this move toward allowing the private

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                          Vol. 41

sector to provide basic public services. Such leading            some 10,000 township homes, sparking riots and
international financial institutions as the World Bank           „birthing radical groups of clandestine plumbers.‟
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have
aggressively promoted this movement by pushing                           In some South African municipalities pre-
countries to privatize public services as basic as water         paid water meters are installed that cut-off access to
supply as conditions for development assistance loans            water if citizens ball behind in their payments.
and debt restructuring.                                          Where clean water is not available, villagers are
                                                                 forced to get their water from polluted rivers
         The results of these programs have not                  causing increased cases of cholera, dysentery and
always led to improvements in the delivery of basics             other water borne illnesses.
services to the various sectors of developing societies.
In fact, the privatization of public infrastructure                       Cochabamba, in Bolivia put its water
services has often led to actual reductions in their             system up for auction in 1999. The only company
overall quality, and many members of society have                to bid was Aguas del Tunari, a division of the U.S.
been cut off entirely from such services. It is ironic           firm Bechtel, which promised to expand water
that the countries which most require assistance from            service.    In exchange, the sale agreement
private companies to provide basic infrastructure                guaranteed the company a 15 to 17 percent profit.
services are those least able to provide safeguards to
protect their citizens and monitor the activities of                      After privatization, water rates in
these multinationals.                                            Cochabamba increased.         Some people were
                                                                 reportedly paying as much as 10-30 percent of their
         The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,              income for water. Many Bolivians took to the
the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and              streets in protest. Over the next three months, the
Cultural Rights, and a wide range of other agreements            Bolivian army fought protesters in the streets,
unequivocally provide that all persons are entitled to           arrested hundreds, and eventually killed a 17 year-
the full realization of economic, social, and cultural           old boy. In the end, the company withdrew and the
rights. In November 2002, the United Nations                     uprising ended. Aguas del Tunari brought an
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights                arbitration claim against the Bolivian government
adopted a General Comment on the right to water                  for $25 million in compensation.
(General Comment 15, the Right to Water,
U.N.Doc.E/C.12/2002/11) calling it a precondition                         One of our main concerns is the trend that
for the realization of all human rights. My report               international    agreements       concerning    trade
discusses the obligations of states to prevent                   liberalization and structural adjustment policies are
programs of privatization of basic utilities from                requiring these programs and inhibiting state‟s
depriving people of full enjoyment of these rights,              capacity to ensure the full realization of these
using water as the principal example.                            rights. Our hope is that if private companies will be
                                                                 providing basic services to the populations their
          Privatization programs in Africa and South             activities will be monitored by states and
America exemplify the problems associated with                   compliance with international human rights
public companies providing basic services where                  instruments will be made mandatory.
profit is the overriding motive, and the state has failed
to provide necessary oversight. As a result, water has           HRA‟s statement under Agenda Item 10 is
become increasingly expensive and systems of                     E/CN.4?2003/NGO/_.
management by exclusion have exacerbated extreme
and endemic poverty throughout the continent.

        In South Africa and Bolivia, the World Bank
has encouraged privatization in an effort to bring                         The Juvenile Death Penalty
basic utilities to millions of new users. Instead,
                                                                          by Sarah Canepa and Hae Won Paik
prices have soared, leaving many without access
                                                                         (Anne James contributed to this article)
when they were unable to pay their bills. Cape
Town‟s privately run water company cut off water to

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                      Vol. 41

        We attended the 59th Session of the United                      The UNHRC is a dynamic forum where
Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva to                    much can be achieved. This year our expectations,
work on the issue of the juvenile death penalty.                however, were guarded on the issue of juvenile
Several treaties prohibit the execution of persons who          death penalty. Within the first few days of arrival,
were under the age of 18 at the commission of the               our concerns were realized. Our efforts have been
crime. A recent decision by the Inter-American                  met with varying degrees of success over the
Commission on Human Rights affirmed that the                    previous years on the issue of juvenile death
prohibition against the execution of juvenile                   penalty and death penalty in general. One of our
offenders constitutes a jus cogens norm, a preemptory           main achievements from the previous year was to
norm of international law recognized and accepted by            insert an article calling for the abolition of the
the international community and from which no                   juvenile death penalty under agenda item 13, rights
derogations is permitted. (See Report No. 62/02, Case           of the child. This we accomplished, despite the
No. 12.285 Domingues v. United States). Thus, the               article being somewhat diluted to ensure its
prohibition against the execution of persons under the          retention. This year however, the United States
age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime            was determined to “right the wrongs” as they see
is not only customary international law, it has                 them caused by the insertion in many resolutions of
attained the status of jus cogens.                              additions they did not want. These insertions had
                                                                been accomplished in the one year that the US did
         Prior to attending the Commission, we                  not have a vote on the Commission.
prepared and submitted a written statement describing
the current practice of juvenile offender executions.                    One of our goals this year was to present to
(See E/CN/.4/2003/NGO/41). Countries worldwide                  the United States delegations statistics showing that
have demonstrated near universal compliance with                the American public does not support the juvenile
the prohibition of juvenile offenders. In the last ten          death penalty to counter statements made by the
years, sic countries have executed juvenile offenders:          United States at last year‟s Commission. Last year,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria,                    the United States defended its practice by stating
Pakistan, Yemen, and the United States. The number              that it merely reflects the democratic process in the
of countries imposing the juvenile death penalty has            states. We collected evidence of polls conducted
steadily decreased. In 2002, the United States was              on this issue and found that the public has never
the only country to execute juvenile offenders. The             strongly supported the juvenile death penalty. A
United States executed 3 juvenile offenders, all of             recent Gallup Poll found that 69% of the public
them in Texas. In addition, there are approximately             opposed the juvenile death penalty. Even in Texas,
80 juvenile offenders currently on death row. The               the legislature in 2001 adopted a law raising the age
United States is not only the most egregious violator           to 18 but the governor vetoed it. We presented this
of the customary international norm prohibiting the             information to the United States delegation but did
execution of juvenile offenders, executing 16 of the            not get any indication that it would reconsider its
24 juvenile offenders executed in the last 10 years,            position on the juvenile death penalty. In fact, we
the United States now stands alone as the sole                  spoke to another member of the delegation who
country maintaining the practice of the juvenile death          indicated that the juvenile death penalty was not a
penalty.                                                        pressing matter for the United States because it
                                                                affects so few individuals.
         We recommended that the Commission urge
the Economic and Social Council to seek an advisory                      In light of this comment, we were surprised
opinion from the International Court of Justice,                to see the United States try to weaken and even cut
recognizing that the juvenile death penalty is                  the juvenile death penalty resolution language. The
prohibited as a matter of customary international law           United States attempted to weaken the resolution
and has risen to the level of a jus cogens norm. We             language by limiting its application to those
also asked the Commission to call upon all states that          countries that have ratified the Convention on the
still maintain the juvenile death penalty to abolish the        Rights of the Child. Since the U.S. has not ratified
practice and to submit annual reports detailing efforts         this instrument, we tried to strengthen the
to end juvenile offender executions.                            resolution language so that all countries abolish the
                                                                juvenile death penalty.        Although we were
                                                                unsuccessful in strengthening the language, as it

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                       Vol. 41

now stands the resolution arguably applies to all                      by Conchita Lozano-Batista and Jeanna Steele
countries, including the United States.
                                                                     This spring, we worked on human rights issues
         We worked with Professor de la Vega and                that face migrant workers. Our work at the
Anne James, an attorney from D.C., to lobby various             Commission on Human Rights focused on the
delegations to ensure that the resolution would not be          adoption of more concrete measures to ensure the
weakened or cut. We spoke to several countries of               right to life of migrant workers on borders and to
the European Union, including Portugal, Ireland,                protect workplace rights of migrants. We drafted
Spain, Greece, and the U.K. The Greek delegation,               various reports, an oral and written statement, a
speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated its            briefing paper, and resolution language on these
support for the abolition of the juvenile death penalty.        topics.     In addition, we successfully lobbied
We gave our materials to Switzerland, who has been              countries to include new protections for migrant
very supportive of the abolition of the juvenile death          workers in the resulting resolutions. Our work at
penalty. Switzerland used this information to ask the           the Commission was extremely rewarding and
Special Rapporteur whether the prohibition against              meaningful and we would like to thank Connie de
the juvenile death penalty is a jus cogens norm. We             la Vega, Human Rights Advocates and U.S.F. for
also spoke to Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay,             this unique opportunity.
and Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the past violators so
we were happy when they expressed support for the               BORDER DEATHS OF MIGRANT WORKERS
resolution against the juvenile death penalty. When
the United States made attempts to delete a part of the             Migration is increasingly a major policy
resolution language, we asked Pakistan to push for              concern in a shrinking world, where more and more
keeping the resolution language and they indicted that          people look to migration as a path to employment,
they would be willing to ensure that the resolution             education, freedom or other opportunities. Today,
language would not be weakened.                                 one of every 35 people is a migrant and migrants
                                                                compose 2.9 percent of the world population. The
         On April 25, 2003, the Commission adopted,             human rights of migrants deserve greater attention.
without a vote, the resolution on the rights of the             Trafficked migrants are routinely exploited,
child. Before the adoption of the resolution, The               mistreated or even killed. State border policies put
United States requested a separate vote on the                  migrants‟ lives at risk and migrant workers often
juvenile death penalty paragraph. The Commission                find themselves without protection or recourse.
decided to retain the paragraph, in a recorded vote of
51 in favor and 1 against. The United States flatly                 Border death statistics are difficult to collect
opposed the resolution language calling for the                 and often under-reported. Migrants die in the
abolition of the death penalty for juvenile offenders,          desert or on the high seas and may never be found.
despite statistics showing that the American public             And, since many countries regard the trafficking of
does not support the execution of juvenile offenders.           migrants to be illegal, they do not report violations
While we regret the position of the United States, we           resulting from this trade.
are thrilled so many nations supported the juvenile
death penalty resolution language and that it will in                U.N. instruments such as the recently ratified
fact remain intact.                                             Convention on Migrant Workers and the
                                                                International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights
        We would like to thank Professor de la Vega             guarantee the right to life for migrant workers.
and Human Rights Advocates for the opportunity to               This right is violated by countries whose border
attend the Human Rights Commission. Overall, our                policies force migrants‟ into dangerous crossings
experience at the United Nations was an invaluable              that will likely result in death. While countries
one. We not only enhanced our advocacy and                      have a right to police their borders, they must do so
lobbying skills but learned about the inner workings            in a humane manner.
of the Commission and the impact NGO‟s can have
in improving human rights.                                          Along the U.S./Mexico border, new border
                                                                walls and intensified border patrols channel
                   Migrant Workers                              migrants into more dangerous routes resulting in
                                                                death by dehydration, hypothermia and drowning.

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                       Vol. 41

Migrants die at a rate of one person per day, and since               Combining border control with humane
1994, when the U.S. implemented tougher border                         guest worker programs, employer sanctions
policies such as Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego,                    and workplace enforcement efforts.
at least 2, 200 people have died. The increase in
deaths in Tucson, Arizona alone was 133% in 2002                    Much of the language we proposed to Mexico
from the previous year. Increased militarization of the        and Ecuador before the start of the Commission
border has also resulted in the use of high speech             was present in the resolution when we arrived. We
chases, which should have been aborted as the risk to          attended two resolution drafting meetings where
life escalated. Since January 2003, four migrants              there was little opposition to our recommendations
have been killed. Thirty-six migrants have died in             and, as a result, our recommendations were
similar crashes since 1994.                                    preserved.      We also met with the Special
                                                               Rapporteur on Migrants, giving her a summary of
    Should a migrant be lucky enough to survive the            our research on migrant deaths in the Straits of
brutal desert crossing and elude border patrols, there         Gibraltar, to assist her in her upcoming fact-finding
is still another danger ahead. U.S. ranchers and               trip to Spain. We were successful in getting her to
others have formed vigilante groups: tracking,                 recognize the problem of deaths on borders and
harassing and sometimes killing migrants found                 hope that she will continue to focus on this issue.
crossing the border with impunity. In August of
2002, a rancher killed a migrant who had entered his
property to ask for water. He was convicted of                 WORKPLACE RIGHTS OF MIGRANT WORKERS
manslaughter and fined $4,000.
                                                                   In working on the workplace rights of migrant
    In Western Europe, the situation is much worse             workers, we urged states to adopt better measures
where 300,000-500,000 migrants arrive yearly via the           to protect these rights. We reported on worldwide
Straits of Gibraltar. At least 3,026 migrants have             violations of migrant workers‟ workplace rights and
died trying to reach Europe since 1993 and 730                 paid special attention to violations of these rights in
people have been rescued in the Straits since 2000             the United States.
and several thousand people are likely to have
drowned. Despite tougher immigration laws, the                     Migrant workers‟ rights in the workplace are
flood of immigrants increased by 30 percent in 2002.           protected under various international instruments.
                                                               Article 7 of the International Covenant on
    Interior enforcement offers a more humane                  Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
solution to the problem of irregular migration by              provides migrant workers with the right to “[s]afe
addressing the issue of demand, a major factor in              and healthy working conditions.” Additionally, the
migration. However, workplace enforcement efforts              ICESCR provides migrants the right to fair wages,
dropped 97 percent between 1999 and 2001 and over              and the right to join and form trade unions.
five times more resources are devoted to border                Migrant workers‟ right to organize is also protected
enforcement than to interior enforcement.                      by the International Covenant on Civil and Political
                                                               Rights (ICCPR), to which the U.S. is a party.
    Our recommendations to the Commission on the
issue of border deaths included:                                        In addition, migrant worker rights are often
                                                               also protected under domestic laws of most
       Urging the Commission to encourage                     countries. However, many of these domestic laws
        governments to abandon immigration policies            lack enforcement mechanisms or do not provide
        that push migrants into dangerous crossings,           sufficient protections for workers bringing claims
       Encouraging coordination between sending               against their employers.
        and receiving countries,
       The strengthening of existing penalties for                In the U.S., employers are increasingly fighting
        traffickers and vigorously prosecuting acts                unionization campaigns by firing or threatening
        that violate migrant‟s human rights,                       undocumented workers, thwarting labor
                                                                   organizers and defying immigration law.
                                                                   Meanwhile, retaliatory firings increase, as
                                                                   unions aggressively recruit immigrants and the

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                     Vol. 41

    economy employs more undocumented workers.                 prosecuting violations of labor law with regard to
    The U.S. Supreme Court recently approved of                conditions of work, including those related to
    employers‟ use of retaliatory firings by holding           remuneration and conditions of health and safety at
    that undocumented migrant workers could be                 work. We also raised the issues that have arisen
    fired for unionization efforts without backpay             after the Hoffman Plastics decision with Mexico
    liability to the employer. This decision violates          and provided them with documentation of attempts
    Article 22 of the ICCPR and enables employers              to expand the decision. This is important as this
    to exploit migrant workers and fire them once              issue is now being reviewed at the Inter-American
    they begin to demand better working conditions.            Court of Human Rights. In light of this, we also
    This decision has already resulted in increased            discussed strategies with Mexico on how to
    harassment to migrants suing employers for                 approach this topic next year at the Commission,
    violation of various workplace rights and courts           once the IACHR decision is issued.
    around the U.S. have made attempts to expand
    the scope of this decision into other areas that
    traditionally protected the rights of migrant              PROTECTION FOR MIGRANT WORKERS IN
    workers.                                                   TIMES OF HEIGHTENED NATIONAL SECURITY

                                                                   There is growing concern about violations of
    Migrant sweatshop workers both in the U.S. and
                                                               the rights of migrant workers by countries enacting
abroad are subjected to violations of workplace
                                                               national security policies that target immigrants. In
rights. Seven-day workweeks, extremely low wages
                                                               addition to our work on workplace rights and
and eighty-hour working weeks are common. The
                                                               border deaths, we worked closely with the
health and safety of workers, mostly women, is
                                                               governments of Mexico, Ecuador and Pakistan to
constantly undermined. Women are discriminated
                                                               draft language that ensured that the rights of
against and harassed, sometimes sexually, and there
                                                               migrant workers, as provided for under national and
is evidence of bonded and child labor in many
                                                               international law, would be protected by states
                                                               enacting national security measures.              We
                                                               successfully lobbied the U.S. government to allow
    Due to the continuing violation of migrant
                                                               for this protection to be included in the final
workers‟ rights in the workplace, we made various
                                                               resolution and helped establish a precedent for
recommendations to the Commission that included:
                                                               addressing these types of concerns in the future.
     Seeking        greater     compliance      with
       international law protecting the workplace
                                                                   A summary of our report can be found by
       rights of migrants.
                                                               going to, clicking on
     Requesting that the Special Rapporteur                   Documents, then 59th Session, then NGO written
       review what government laws are not in                  Statements and going to Document Number:
       compliance with international law, and to               E/CN.4/2003/NGO/42.       The results of our
       identify what steps are necessary so that laws          lobbying can be seen in the final resolution
       apply uniformly to all business enterprises             (Document Number: E/CN.4/Res/2003/46,) which
       worldwide.                                              was adopted by general consensus.
     Requesting that states ensure that their laws
       are in conformity with international law, and
       to firmly prosecute cases of violation of                      Amicus Brief to Supreme Court on
       national and international labor law with                      University of Michigan Affirmative
       regard to migrant workers' conditions of                                Action Programs
       work,     including     those     related   to
       remuneration, association rights, and the
                                                                   by Conchita Lozano-Batista and Sayareh Dehzad
       conditions of health and safety at work.
                                                                   This spring we worked with Prof. de la Vega,
    We were very successful in including new                   Human Rights Advocates, and the University of
protections in the resulting resolutions and in raising        Minnesota Human Rights Center to draft and
various issues with particular countries. Specifically,        submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the
we were able to get paragraph included on                      cases of Grutter v. Bollinger, 122 F. Supp. 3d 732

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                        Vol. 41

(6th Cir. 2002), cert. granted, No. 02-241 (2003), and         In Grutter v. Bollinger, 529 U.S. __ (2003), Justice
Gratz v. Bollinger, 122 F. Supp. 2d 811 (E.D. Mich.            Ginsburg concurred with the court's opinion
2000), cert. granted, No. 02-516 (2003). These cases           holding that the University of Michigan Law
challenged the University of Michigan‟s Affirmative            School's admission program's "narrowly tailored
Action programs for both the undergraduate and law             use of race in admissions decisions to further a
school campuses.         Though the University of              compelling interest in obtaining the educational
Michigan‟s programs were narrowly tailored to meet             benefits that flow from a diverse student body
the demanding criteria established in Bakke for                [was] not prohibited by the equal protection clause"
constitutionally acceptable affirmative action                 and noted that the court's decision was consistent
programs, unsuccessful white applicants to the                 with the international understanding of affirmative
undergraduate and law school programs challenged               action. Justice Ginsburg wrote: The Court's
the constitutionality of the affirmative action                observation that race-conscious programs "must
programs.                                                      have a logical end point," [], accords with the
                                                               international understanding of the office of
    Our brief to the Supreme Court focused on                  affirmative action. The International Convention on
international law arguments. We argued that a                  the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
reversal of the decision to uphold the admissions              Discrimination, [] endorses "special and concrete
policies would conflict with U.S. treaty obligations           measures to ensure the adequate development and
under the International Convention on the                      protection of certain racial groups or individuals
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination              belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing
(ICERD) and the International Covenant on Civil and            them the full and equal enjoyment of
Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the U.S. is a party.        human rights and fundamental freedoms." [ Art.
Both treaties contain provisions allowing for and              2(2)]. But such measures, the Convention instructs,
encouraging the use of affirmative action programs to          "shall in no case entail as a consequence the
remedy past discrimination. Treaty provisions are              maintenance of unequal or separate rights for
considered to be “supreme law of the land” under               different racial groups after the objectives for which
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. is            they were taken have been achieved." [Ibid. see
bound to protect the rights enumerated in these                also Art. 1(4)] (similarly providing for temporally
treaties. We argued that a reversal of the lower               limited affirmative action); Convention on the
court‟s decision would impair the ability of state and         Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
local governmental entities to institute measures              Women, [Art. 4(1)] (authorizing "temporary special
designed to meet U.S. treaty obligations.                      measures          aimed          at        accelerating
                                                               de facto equality" that "shall be discontinued when
    The decision in these cases is still pending. (See         the objectives of equality of opportunity and
below for update.) However, over 70 groups                     treatment have been achieved"). [citations omitted]
submitted briefs requesting that the Supreme Court             The        decision         is      available        at:
uphold the use of the University‟s admission policy. 
These groups were very diverse in their interests and          241.pdf
included many Fortune 500 companies, senior                    In Gratz v. Bollinger, 529 U.S. __ (2003)
members of the armed services, the American Bar                Justice Ginsburg's dissent makes the point that "the
Association, and various universities around the               Constitution is color conscious to prevent
nation.                                                        discrimination being perpetuated and to undo the
                                                               effects of past discrimination. [citations and internal
A listing of all amicus briefs submitted in this case,         quotations omitted]." She then notes that
including      ours,    can      be     found      at:         "contemporary human rights documents draw just              this line; they distinguish between policies of
micus-ussc/um.html                                             oppression and measures designed to accelerate de
                                                               facto     equality.[citations    to     Grutter    and
         Supreme Court Decisions                               CERD and CEDAW omitted]"The decision is
    Justice Ginsberg cites International                       available                                            at:
            Human Rights Law                                   516.pdf

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                    Vol. 41

Thanks for Cindy Soohoo of the Columbia Human Rights                  Close to one third of the world‟s population
Institute for compiling the above information.                         of women live with inadequate or no
                                                                       housing whatsoever.
THE CENTRE ON HOUSING RIGHTS AND                                      Women perform two-thirds of the world‟s
       EVICTIONS (COHRE)                                               total working hours, yet they own less the
                                                                       one percent of the world‟s property.
                    by Birte Scholz                                   Women and girl children make up 80
                                                                       percent of the world‟s estimated 50 million
COHRE is a non-governmental organization that                          refugees and internally displaced persons.
promotes and protects economic, social and cultural
                                                                      In many countries, especially in Africa and
rights, and specifically the right to housing, for                     South Asia, women are systematically
everyone everywhere. I am the Coordinator of the
                                                                       denied land ownership or inheritance
Women and Housing Rights programme.                                    rights. In Nigeria, for example, women‟s
                                                                       socio-economic status prevents them from
        For this dream position I must give many
                                                                       owning property albeit at the mercy of a
thanks to the Frank C. Newman Internship
                                                                       male relative.
programme of HRA. As an intern at the 56th Session
                                                                      Rape is used as a “tool” to forcibly remove
of the UN Commission on Human Rights
                                                                       women from their homes before and during
(“UNHCR”), I spoke on the correlation between
                                                                       forced evictions.
domestic violence and the right to adequate housing.
I remained active in the area by attending th Beijing                 In many countries, the majority of
Plus Five conference in 2000 and the Habitat                           homeless women are escaping situations of
Conference in 2001.                                                    domestic violence.        An estimated 60
                                                                       percent of homeless women in the United
         The job opened at COHRE, I applied, and                       States are escaping batterers at home.
was granted the amazing opportunity to work on the
right to adequate housing for women throughout the                 Gender inequity gives rise to several barriers
world, with an organization that is at the forefront of        that the WHRP believes are combatable from a
the promotion and protection of human rights. A                human rights perspective: lack of information,
dream human rights job is possible, especially when            education and training with regards to the right to
connected to Human Rights Advocates!                           housing; lack of collective action focused on
                                                               women‟s right to adequate housing; a belief that
                                                               housing, especially for women, should be left to the
                Women and Housing
                                                               private sphere; unaccountable and insensitive
         Today over 70 percent of the world‟s                  governments; inaccessible and gender insensitive
estimated 1.6 billion inadequately housed are female.          courts that lack knowledge with regards to the right
Thousands of these women die per day as a result of            to housing; and an overall disregard of the
preventable disease due to a lack of access to                 importance that the human right to housing plays,
adequate housing and related services such as water            especially for women.
and sanitation, as well as from violence perpetrated
against them in the home.                                          The right to adequate housing is enshrined in
                                                               the International Human Bill of Rights, comprised
        While lack of access to stable and secure              of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
housing adversely affects all, women bear the brunt            Rights, the International Covenant on Economic,
of this universal housing crisis. Lack of secure               Social and Cultural Right and the Universal
housing deprives women of economic autonomy,                   Declaration of Human Rights.
physical safety and personal dignity, and serves to
further marginalize women by contributing to their                 Housing rights refer not only to a “home,” but
poverty and continued social subjugation.                      also embrace fundamental procedural, remedial,
                                                               security and non-material aspects.        In sum,
   Women experience the violation of the right to              advocating for a woman‟s realization of the right to
adequate housing in distinct ways:                             housing is an important step in her attainment of
                                                               other fundamental human rights, increasing her

Human Rights Advocates                                                                                      Vol. 41

autonomy and allowing her to live a more full and                        COHRE along with several other
dignified life.                                                 organizations such as Huairou Commission, Habitat
                                                                International Coalition, Human Rights Watch and
    UNCHR: Resolution on Women, Housing,                        several others utilized the UNCHR 59th Session to
       Land and Property and the U.S.                           launch a Global Working Group on Women
                                                                Housing, Land and Property.        This was an
         The WHRP has been instrumental in passing              opportune moment, as women and housing was a
resolutions at the UNCHR on women‟s right to                    theme at this year´s UNCHR pursuant to the
housing, land and property, and was once again this             mandate given last year to the Special Rapporteur
year- despite heavy opposition from the U.S.                    on housing to submit a report examining women
                                                                and housing (E/CN.4/2003/55).
         This year the U.S. proposed a „small‟
amendment to an operative paragraph the resolution,                     The first meeting of the Global Working
to remove the words „right to‟ from before the words‟           Group was a great success. The group serves as a
adequate housing‟. The U.S. position is that the right          discussion forum, sharing thoughts, ideas and work
to adequate housing is not a critical component to the          plans, and to bring together women working on
right to an adequate standard of living, a position that        housing/land issues from all over the world.
has never gained favour with most States.
                                                                         If you would like to find out more about the
         Mexico, the State party who brought the                right to adequate housing generally or for women in
resolution, stood by undaunted and called for a vote            particular, please see, or email the
on the „small‟ amendment. The amendment was                     WRHP at Additionally, COHRE
victoriously voted down, 36 no‟s to 3 yea‟s, including          submitted a written statement on women and the
the U.S., UK and Australia. Several key European                right to housing, property and land under
allies abstained.                                               E/CN.4/2003/NGO/266.

         The U.S. did not oppose the general housing            Special thanks to Tina Camba, Frank C. Newman
resolution, „Adequate housing as a component of an              Intern for the 59th Commission, for her meticulous
adequate standard of living‟ (E/Cn.4/2003/27), but it           note taking and valuable advice.
delivered a statement before the vote arguing that a
State is not responsible for providing adequate
housing to its populace, and that housing is merely a                        Human Rights Advocates
component to an adequate standard of living, not a                               P.O. Box 5675
right.     The U.S. was correct in stating that                                Berkeley, CA 94705
international jurisprudence does not require the state
to build a home for all, but it does require a state to
ensure that its populace can afford housing adequate                                 Cindy Cohn
to live a life of dignity.                                                        Connie de la Vega
                                                                                   Kristin Lamsen
         Despite the U.S. interference, the Women‟s                               Michelle Leighton
Equal Right To Access Control And Own Land And                                     Nicole Phillips
Equal Right To Own Property And To Adequate                                  Julianne Cartwright Traylor
Housing‟ (E/CN.4/2003/42) passed the UNCHR                                          Anne Wagley
without a vote. The U.S.‟s position luckily does not
reflects the impetus of the majority of the world, and
international law in its current form.

       Working Group on Women, Housing,
              Land and Property


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