Linden Rhoads Dean’s Innovation Fund and Gates PSL Sponsor Major International Human Rights Conference: Three Degrees
The Three Degrees conference was a great success. This conference brought together an international cross-section of key players, including corporate CEOs, World Bank consultants, legal scholars, physicians, atmospheric scientists, ethicists, international relief organizations, disaster relief agents, Native peoples, and political strategists for a robust debate on the legal duty to remedy the human rights implications of climate change.
2L Gates Scholar Jeni Barcelos and fellow 2L Jen Marlow were the driving forces behind the conference. Barcelos said, "There is no more pressing issue than the human implications of climate change. The poorest of peoples in developing countries are the people most impacted by changes in climate. I came to law school to work on this issue and I am thrilled to help move this work forward by bringing together such amazing people from all over the world to create change."
The centerpiece of the conference, a Socratic (Fred Friendly-style) dialogue, was moderated by former PBS facilitator Kim Taylor-Thompson, who challenged panelists to debate legal and policy responses to a fictitious disaster scenario based on a three degrees Celsius rise in the Earth’s temperature. The conference created an international forum to test the available remedies, raise the legal issues associated with these remedies, and collaborate over necessary advancements in the law in order to respond to the foreseeable human consequences of climate change.
Keynote presenters were Mary Robinson and Henry Shue. Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997) and more recently former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), has spent most of her life as a human rights advocate. Currently based in New York, Mary Robinson is now leading Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative. Its mission is to put human rights standards at the heart of global governance and policy-making and to ensure that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are addressed on the global stage.
Henry Shue is a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Centre for International Studies. He is primarily interested in ethical issues that arise in international affairs, especially issues about the foreign policy of the United States. Shue’s research has focused on the role of human rights, especially economic rights, in international affairs and, more generally, on institutions to protect the vulnerable.
A number of post-conference activities will ensure that the UW community remains engaged in working on this issue. Three Degrees partnered with The Climate Project (TCP) to develop messaging specifically about the human impacts of climate change. In a 'climate-change-changes-everything' kind of world, TCP and Three Degrees can help facilitate a top-down, bottom-up integration of the human rights discourse, linking legal and academic scholarship with grassroots education efforts. To this end, Three Degrees is working to develop a complete multimedia slide module for TCP presenters to use in explaining the human impacts of climate change to audiences around the world.
"The legal community is uniquely empowered to address the impacts of climate change," said Jenny Clad, Executive Director of TCP. "Three Degrees can advance the global dialogue on climate rights."
Other conference outcomes include ongoing scholarship on the intersection of climate change and human rights. The Washington Law Review has solicited articles from conference participants for an upcoming issue of the journal.
An exciting result of the conference will be a trip to Copenhagen for the 2009 Climate Change Conference. COP15 is the 15th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations' Climate Change Convention. The conference will take place from December 7-18, 2009. Barcelos and Marlow hope to have a voice at this international event, and to encourage the insertion of human rights language in the agreements that come out of the conference.
Visit the Three Degrees website for more information, to see photos from the conference and to follow post conference activities.
Gates Scholar Named Equal Justice Works Fellow
Equal Justice Works recently announced its 2009 Class of Fellows, naming 2006 Gates Scholar Mike Peters, among the 48 Fellows nationwide. The Equal Justice Works (formerly NAPIL) Fellowships Program was launched in 1992 to address the shortage of attorneys working on behalf of traditionally under-served populations and causes in the United States and its territories. The program creates partnerships among public interest lawyers, nonprofit organizations, law firm/corporate sponsors and other donors in order to afford underrepresented populations effective access to the justice system. The two-year Fellowships offer salary and generous loan repayment assistance; a national training and leadership development program; and other forms of support during the term of the Fellowship.
Crediting the UW law school’s Immigration Law Clinic as his watershed experience with immigration law, Peters said, "I feel incredibly fortunate to be given this opportunity to serve immigrant youth and I am honored to carry on the EJW tradition started here at the law school by Casey Trupin (Chair, Gates PSL Advisory Board) in 1999."
The goal of Peters' project is to develop a replicable model that responds to the urgent needs of immigrant youth in Washington State's juvenile justice system. After contact with this system, youth often face immigration policies that result in prolonged incarceration, fewer educational opportunities, and high rates of deportation to possibly life threatening situations. This project will promote collaborative advocacy among stakeholders, establish uniform policies that maximize access to immigration relief, and train pro bono attorneys and students in direct advocacy.
Hosted by the Seattle office of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and partnering with the Washington Defender Association's Immigration Project, Peters' project will receive its funding from the Microsoft Corporation. "Microsoft has demonstrated a powerful commitment to serving the legal needs of immigrant youth in Washington State, as well as nationally. I am confident that this project will complement the clear vision Microsoft has established with its brand new Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) program," said Peters.
The Class of 2012: New Scholars Announced
During the weekend of April 3-4, 2009, a team of interviewers including UW School of Law faculty, members of the judiciary and community leaders in public and private sector law interviewed 20 finalists for the scholarship program. Each candidate brought unique gifts and it was an amazing pool. After careful deliberation the following outstanding individuals were chosen to join the class of 2012 as the new Gates Scholars.
Joan Altman has worked with federal government healthcare programs for the last five years, most recently at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Washington, DC. As a public health professional, she has worked to implement and improve programs that serve disadvantaged populations. She said one of her goals will be to transform her understanding of the law into programs and policies that improve healthcare access and cultivate conditions for healthier lives worldwide.
She earned her Master's of Public Health from Yale University, where she translated her thesis research into a program that continues to provide free medical care to uninsured residents of rural Connecticut.
For the past nine years, Mike Felton has worked as a teacher and principal in a small fishing community on Maine's Vinalhaven Island. He said it was his experiences at the Vinalhaven School that influenced him to apply to law school.
"I've been shaping education policies at a community level. Now, I want to be involved in public policy on a larger stage."
Felton said he has always taken an interest in communities and how they function, which was one reason he went into public education. He received his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College and a Master's of Education from the University of Maine.
A graduate of Tufts University, Ariana Flores has worked for agencies focused on healthcare, workers' rights, and, most recently, LGBT equality. As a healthcare organizer for Jobs With Justice in Boston, she worked on an amendment aimed at making health care coverage a right for every Massachusetts resident.
As a result of her experience on the amendment campaign, Flores realized that getting a law degree was "a way in which I could do the work I wanted to without having to compromise my ideals by having to depend on an organization for strategy or vested interests."
Hilary Hammell states, "I'm interested in how communication can be used to build consensus," she said. "I see how the law can be used to build bridges between groups who may not agree on the issues, but who want to reach a mutually beneficial solution."
Hammell has worked in public-interest organizations her entire life, but it was her recent experience living in Honduras, then working with the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, that convinced her she wanted to focus on women's issues. As a teacher with an organization called BECA, Hammell started thinking about how issues of underdevelopment had to do with women's rights, especially the right to health.
Katherine Kirklin's passion for service developed as an environmental studies major in college. During her sophomore year in college when she interned at the United Nations Development Programme in Chile, Kirklin said she saw how environmental policies, or the lack thereof had direct influence on communities, especially the underprivileged. Kirklin said she became interested in pursuing environmental issues, looking for a way to make an impact in the areas of environmental justice, sustainability, climate change, and resource management.
"The thing that really attracts me to the legal profession is that it offers an opportunity to simultaneously address an issue right now, in real-time, while also contributing to larger changes in society."
Looking Toward the Summer: Thoughts From Lillian Hewko
Lillian Hewko, rising 2L, will be working at Equality Now this summer.
"I am extremely excited about my opportunity to work at Equality Now in New York this summer. Equality Now spreads awareness of issues and provides support to local grass roots groups that are working to help protect the human rights of women around the world. I will have the opportunity to see how advocacy and policy intersect with international law to advance equality rights and defend individual women who are suffering abuse."
"As an intern I will attend the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), where Equality Now will present the issues that it believes are most pressing. The current issues of urgent concern to Equality Now include rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights, trafficking of women, female genital mutilation, and the denial of equal access to economic opportunity and political participation."
"Personally, I hope to learn to apply Equality Now’s culturally sensitive strategies which allow for the effective implementation of international law in the Middle East and Africa. In addition, due to my experience working in South America, my goal is to help explore more contacts for Equality Now with grassroots organizations in Latin America."
Programming Highlights of 2009
Gates PSL has continued to collaborate with UW law school students groups to deliver weekly public service related programming. Examples of highlights since our last newsletter include:
UW Alum Marty Smith ’81 addressing "The Increasing Role of Technology, Law Risk Management, New Fee Structures and Non-Traditional Labor in Increasing Access to Justice;" Federal Public Defender Jay Stansell presenting "A lawyer’s role in the fight for social justice;" a presentation on "Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: Hyper-policing Seattle’s Communities of Color;" a presentation on "Different Perspectives on Alternative Dispute Resolution;" and 2L law student Xheni Shehu sharing "Experiences in Cambodia as the first Joan Fitzpatrick Fellow in Human Rights."
Partnering with the Integrity of Justice Project, Gates PSL hosted a compelling speaker series event on April 20, "Picking Cotton" is the story of exoneree Ronald Cotton and victim/witness Jennifer Thompson-Cannino. To a standing room only crowd, these two amazing speakers, activists and authors told their story of a criminal justice system gone horribly awry. Thompson-Cannino incorrectly identified Cotton as her attacker and he served 11 years in prison before DNA evidence led to his exoneration. Two years after his release they become friends and embarked on a journey together to speak out about how the criminal justice system can be formed to avoid such miscarriages of injustice as they experienced.
You can download "Picking Cotton" or any of the other speaker series events, from the UW School of Law multimedia gallery.
On May 7 Gates PSL hosted a lunchtime talk with law school alumnus Cristobal Josh Alex '01, a program officer with the Open Society Institute’s Democracy and Power Fund. With a talk entitled: "The Power is in the People: New Models for Civic Engagement & Grassroots Organizing," Alex energized law students with discussion about the recent presidential election, issues of immigration reform and an in depth conversation about grassroots efforts and collaboration amongst organizations working for change.
On May 8 Gates Advisory Board member Doug Lasdon, director of New York City’s Urban Justice Center also gave a lunchtime talk. Lasdon was able to share experiences from the field: the Urban Justice Center started as a one-person operation in a burned-out building in East Harlem, to provide badly needed legal services to one of New York City’s most underserved populations-single homeless adults. To make his services accessible to his clients, Lasdon conducted outreach legal clinics directly in soup kitchens, making the organization the first in the country to use this approach. Since, then Douglas has greatly expanded the agency’s scope, and influence, while holding fast to its core mission - helping those at the farthest margins of society, both one at a time and collectively. The Center’s projects include a community development project, a human rights project, a sex worker’s project, a mental health project and a street vendor’s project among others.
Coming Soon! In the fall of 2009 our first Speaker Series presentation of the year will be October 5, 2009 with Mark Bennett, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. Bennett was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1994. On Jan. 1, 2000, he became Chief Judge of the Northern District, presiding over the busiest federal trial court in the nation. He has spoken throughout the U.S. on topics such as federal litigation, civil rights, employment law, professionalism, and courtroom technology. Bennett has taught courses at Drake University Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law. He is the co-author of the book, Employment Relationships Law & Practice. We look forward to welcoming him to our community in the fall.