Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Rights with Ajita Banerjie: The Right to Love

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Rights with Ajita Banerjie: The Right to Love

By RightsViews Staff Writer Sydney Smith On March 10 2022, SOGI rights researcher and activist Ajita Banerjie (she/they) spoke about the legacy of the landmark Supreme Court of India decision, Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. On September 6, 2018, in a unanimous decision by the court, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (1860), which criminalized unnatural sex between two individuals, was considered unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the rights to expression, equality, privacy, and human dignity.  Banerjie details three reasons why this judgment is unique. First, the judgement not only decriminalized same sex acts, but went above and beyond to recognize LGBTQIA+ members as equal rights-holding citizens who deserve a life free of persecution. Second, the judgment offered an expansive interpretation of the right to privacy. The court recognized Section 377’s unreasonable restriction on privacy and freedom of choice. Additionally, privacy was no longer only relevant in the private sphere; rather, the court recognized social privacy and...
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#CUonStrike: A Discussion with the Student Workers of Columbia Bargaining Committee

#CUonStrike: A Discussion with the Student Workers of Columbia Bargaining Committee

By Noah Smith, RightsViews Co-Editor and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. The opinions expressed in this article are Noah’s own and are not representative of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) or Columbia University.       As of November 3, 2021, the Student Workers (SWC-UAW Local 2110) of Columbia University went on an indefinite strike, prolonged by the unwillingness of Columbia University’s administration to offer a fair contract to student workers. With the end of the John Deere strike earlier this week, the Columbia student workers strike is now the largest strike action in the country. The SWC-UAW Local 2110 has been legally recognized by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) since 2017, and there are over 3,000 members in the unit, making it one of the largest student worker unions in the country.  Columbia’s student workers are demanding a fair contract that includes a living wage, better healthcare, union recognition for all student workers, and protections from...
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Courts and Global Norms on Freedom of Expression

Courts and Global Norms on Freedom of Expression

By RightsViews Staff Writer Carina Goebelbecker Is it fake news, fact, or some form of the truth? Freedom of expression holds space for all these possibilities. The “Courts and Global Norms on Freedom of Expression” two-part conference programmed by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression illuminated all these possibilities and their implications within a larger national and international setting. The streamed session on Thursday October 21st explored the cultural context of freedom of expression and how norms intersect with policy, practices, and beliefs. Columbia Global Freedom of Expression was founded in 2014 with the intention of connecting international professionals and activists with their communities and networks of support. The goals of the conference were for the speakers to share their experiences with courts to the public and to promote dialogue. Columbia University President and Founder of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Lee C. Bollinger delivered the opening remarks, noting how global norms of freedom of expression have been established and continue to...
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A Person-Centered and Compassionate Health Care System

A Person-Centered and Compassionate Health Care System

By: Carina Goebelbecker, staff writer. How can we put “care” back into health care? This was the central question posed by the “A Person-Centered and Compassionate Health Care System” zoom webinar on Friday, October 15th at 8:30am EST, organized by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health as a part of their Centennial programming. Current Yusef Hamied Fellow Dr. Vikram Patel used personal experience, research on class division within the system, and medical data to highlight the ways in which India’s healthcare system is failing its people while proposing concrete solutions for a promising way forward. Dr. Patel began the lecture with a story about his mother, who experienced intense mistreatment within India’s health care system over the course of more than fifty years until her death. Patel stated that through his mother’s encounters, he never came across “a physician who actually saw [his] mother as a person,” but rather viewed her as just a diagnosis. This lack of visibility is a...
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Political Apologies Database: Discussion with the Historical Dialogues Justice & Memory Network Seminar Series

Political Apologies Database: Discussion with the Historical Dialogues Justice & Memory Network Seminar Series

By: Lindsey Alpaugh, staff writer. On Tuesday, October 12th, the Historical Dialogues, Justice, and Memory Network Seminar Series hosted a discussion via Zoom, “Trends in Political Apologies Across the World: Insights From the Political Apologies Database,” featuring Dr. Juliette Schaafsma and Ph.D. Candidate Marieke Zoodsma from Tilburg University. Dr. Schaafsma and Zoodsma spoke about the nature of political apologies, as well as their recently launched resource, the Political Apologies Database. The database is part of a larger project the scholars are conducting, funded by the European Research Center, looking into the key questions surrounding political apologies.  The researchers began their lecture by outlining the larger discussion around political apologies. As states offer, or are asked to offer, political apologies for human rights violations, they may face skepticism or criticism for their motivations. Questions of sincerity, and how this apology might relate to norms of governance emerge for both those affected by the human rights violations, as well as the public at large....
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The Future of Human Rights: Interview with ISHR alum, Bárbara Matias

The Future of Human Rights: Interview with ISHR alum, Bárbara Matias

By Anna Miller, RightsViews co-editor and graduate student in the human rights M.A. program. This spring, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights had the opportunity to connect with a graduate of the program who has endeavored on a remarkable career. Read on to learn more about international professional Bárbara Matias, and her career that spans across countries, cultures, and job sectors.  Please introduce yourself, your relation to Columbia University, and ISHR.  My name is Bárbara Matias, I am a professional in the field of international affairs who identifies as both a citizen of Portugal and of the European Union on top of a global human rights advocate, and I am a proud Columbia University alum. I moved to New York in 2016 to undertake a graduate degree in Human Rights Studies at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR), as a Fulbright Scholar. Throughout my Master’s degree I was a Teaching Assistant for the undergraduate Introduction to Human Rights...
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Rerouted, Rerooted: Oral Histories of Syrian-Armenian Refugees

Rerouted, Rerooted: Oral Histories of Syrian-Armenian Refugees

By Larissa Peltola, Editor, RightsViews.   The Armenian Genocide, which took place 106 years ago, today, claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. While people around the world are now more aware of what occurred in 1915, following a global push for recognition of the genocide, few are aware of the lasting implications of the genocide which have carried on to this day. HRSMA alumna Anoush Baghdassarian (‘19) and Pomona College graduate Ani Schug (‘17) have undertaken the important and necessary work of collecting the oral histories of Syrian-Armenian refugees - the descendants of genocide survivors - to keep the memories of those who have perished alive. What was the Armenian Genocide?  Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide, was moved to do so after hearing about the systematic annihilation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Before WWI, Armenians - in what is now Turkey - totaled over two million. But by 1922, there were fewer than...
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The Neoliberalization of Academia: Why the Columbia University Graduate Workers Strike is a Human Rights Imperative

The Neoliberalization of Academia: Why the Columbia University Graduate Workers Strike is a Human Rights Imperative

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. The opinions expressed in this article are Noah’s own and are not representative of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) or Columbia University.  Thousands of graduate students and student workers at Columbia University began striking on March 15, 2021 after many stalled negotiations with school administrators. A strong majority of student workers, 96%, voted  yes to authorize a strike and with a  deadline of March 15, 2021. The Graduate Workers of Columbia University (GWC) and all those in solidarity call on the university to agree to a fair contract. According to GWC bargaining committee members, the strike is a last resort after years of unsuccessful negotiations with university representatives, and assert that withholding their labor is the final means of forcing the university to recognize their demands. Columbia University has had a long and tumultuous history in regards to treating graduate workers as employees....
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NeuroRights: The Need for Human Rights Guidelines for Neurotechnology & AI

NeuroRights: The Need for Human Rights Guidelines for Neurotechnology & AI

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program.   On January 29, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights hosted Rafael Yuste, Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, to discuss the proposal from the Morningside group led by Yuste (Yuste et al., Nature 2017) to add new human rights articles to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to protect mental privacy, personal identity, personal agency, equal access to cognitive augmentation, and protection from algorithmic biases. The event commenced with moderator Lara J. Nettelfield, Senior Lecturer, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, introducing Rafael Yuste who began his presentation by discussing the fundamental biology of the brain as well as why we must study neuroscience in relation to human rights. The brain, which is composed of roughly 100 billion neurons, is what generates all of our cognitive and mental abilities. If we understood how this organ worked, we would recognize the mind...
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The Year of COVID-19 with Dr. Anthony Fauci

The Year of COVID-19 with Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program  On December 10, the Dean's Grand Rounds on the Future of Public Health had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the year of COVID-19 and the future of public health. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a sobering light on unequivocally broken, systematically racist and unequal health systems which have done little to support communities of color, the vulnerable and the elderly. It has also starkly illuminated our nation's absence of a public health system charged with protecting the health of all citizens. The Dean’s Grands Rounds sought to examine these challenges as well as deepen our understanding, research, teaching and action on this topic, through examining the year that changed everything and the very future of public health.     The Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Linda Fried, moderated the event and asked Dr. Fauci predetermined questions sent in by students...
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