COVID-19 in Africa: Responses and Prospect for Recovery

COVID-19 in Africa: Responses and Prospect for Recovery

By Lindsey Alpaugh, staff writer, RightsViews, Human Rights MA student.  On Wednesday, January 27th, Columbia University held an event examining the impact of COVID-19 on the African continent. Panelists included Belinda Archibong, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Pedro Conceicao, the director of the Human Development Report Office and lead author of the Human Development Report, UNDP HDR office, and Dr. Wilmot James, Senior Research Scholar in the Institute for Social and Economic Research Policy. This event followed a series in the fall looking at COVID-19 in Latin America and was sponsored by the Economic and Political Development concentration at SIPA, the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University, Center for Development Economics and Policy, and SIPA Pan-African Network. African countries were able to have a significantly smaller first wave than predicted due to the dramatic measures that countries took to prevent the spread, such as closing schools and limiting travel. While this had a very successful impact on combatting the...
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Myanmar’s Coup: Unearthing its Constitutional Roots

Myanmar’s Coup: Unearthing its Constitutional Roots

By guest contributors Namrata Rawat* and Rishav Devrani.* February 1, 2021, the world witnessed Myanmar succumbing to a military coup after a 5-year run of a democratically elected government. The coup happened on account of alleged fraud in the 2020 elections wherein the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi saw a landslide victory with 83% votes in its favour. Myanmar, currently under a year-long state of emergency, would be under military rule. The coup d’état has been condemned by countries and international organisations across the globe, who have called it a serious blow to democratic reforms. However, this state of events is not unprecedented, a similar narrative presided over the 1990 election as well. The imposed state of emergency is provided for under Section 417 of the Constitution of Myanmar. It becomes pertinent to discuss this as a military rule can have unavoidable violations of human rights across the country. In this article, the authors...
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Understanding the LGBT Rights Movement in Indonesia

Understanding the LGBT Rights Movement in Indonesia

By guest contributors Harsh Mahaseth* and Ishita Goel*   Although homosexuality is legal in most parts of Indonesia, it is widely believed that the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), with government officials making the four-letter acronym a toxic symbol. In November, Indonesian police arrested Millen Cyrus, a trans-woman Instagram influencer, for alleged drug possession. Police placed her in a male detention cell at the Tanjung Priok Port Police Station, a move that received criticism from Indonesians and the international community. Millen Cyrus was arrested on November 22, 2020, after police raided her hotel room and discovered 0.36 grams of crystal methamphetamine in her possession. Police revealed later that Cyrus had been placed in a male detention cell because her I.D card identified her as a male. She was moved to a special cell following public outrage, not because police realised their mistake. They removed her from the male detention cell in order to “stifle anger,”...
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The State vs. The People: The Indian Government’s War Against Farmers and Dissent

The State vs. The People: The Indian Government’s War Against Farmers and Dissent

By guest contributors Saba Kohli Dave* and Namrata.*   In the wake of the historic farmer’s protests in India, on February 8th, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hailing from the country’s contentious Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), compared protestors to parasites in Parliament. This politically motivated comparison comes as no surprise as there has been a steady state-led crackdown on those asserting civil rights and liberties through protest. However, the state made a miscalculation when it promulgated three agriculture-related ordinances in June 2020, which were passed in Parliament under controversial circumstances in September 2020. Since November, farmers across India have been the major voices of dissent, outraged at laws that were passed without their consultation. Why are the farmers protesting? The 3 farm laws were passed blurring legal and constitutional lines. The bills were arrived at without pre-legislative consultation, tabled without scrutiny, and passed through a dubious “voice vote.” They have been perceived by a majority of farmers as the government abrogating its...
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The Will To Work: Women’s Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Will To Work: Women’s Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Kelly Dudine, a staff writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program   Globally, girls and women are simultaneously among the most overworked and most impoverished populations. Entire economies thrive due to the unrecognized and undervalued labor of women, including household work, care work, and informal and low-wage labor.  During the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, girls and women stand to lose even more. Women in varying levels of employment are now struggling to maintain dignified work, and many fear the loss of income more than the pandemic itself. “During the first lockdown, all the artisans were tense about not having enough orders to work and feared not getting paid,” said Rosna Kafle, Chair of the Kopila Valley Women’s Cooperative in Surkhet, Nepal.  The Cooperative employs some of the most vulnerable women in the community with work as tailors and weavers. Before the Cooperative, many of the artisans were unemployed, or performed hazardous work, like breaking stones or...
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National Security Versus the Rights of Conscientious Objectors

National Security Versus the Rights of Conscientious Objectors

By Donggeun Lee, RightsViews Staff Writer and a junior majoring in Human Rights. When one serves their nation against their will, who would be responsible for the trauma that they might receive? Some might join the military to avoid social pressure or jail, believing that military service will not be too bad. The problem is that it could be. Surely, hazing in the military is one source of trauma, but there are more. The trauma that roots in the memory of those serving the nation. Throughout history, the military forces, at times, were used in crimes, such as genocide. Not only the Nazi-led holocaust, but also the Armenian Genocide, Irish Genocide, and even the Turkish army invading the Kurdish region in 2019 were all done by use of military forces. Those who serve the nation believing that they were protecting national security may later find out that they were actually involved in mass-killing with no moral reasons. They could have tremendous...
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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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Sexual Terrorism and the Quest for Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: The Digital Dialogue Series 

Sexual Terrorism and the Quest for Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: The Digital Dialogue Series 

By Larissa Peltola, a Staff Writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA program. Sexual terrorism committed by militant groups like ISIS/ISIL, Boko Haram, and Al Shabaab has gone largely unacknowledged in domestic and international courts, despite its rampant use. Sexual violence is a widespread, endemic issue in all conflicts around the world, affecting individuals, communities, and societies as a whole.  The United Nations has identified that the extensive use of sexual violence perpetrated by terrorist groups globally has been used as an incentive for recruitment, a tool for financing, destroying, subjugating and controlling communities and societies, extracting information from detainees, forcing displacement, and as a means of controlling or suppressing women’s reproductive abilities. While the high numbers of sexual abuse have led to international calls to action by civil society, activists, the United Nations Security Council, and state governments, these crimes have still not been prosecuted before any national or international court.    What Can (and Should) Justice Look...
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Make the Money, Make (up) the News? The Underreported War of Nagorno-Karabakh

Make the Money, Make (up) the News? The Underreported War of Nagorno-Karabakh

By Nay Alhelou, Co-Editor of RightsViews and MA Candidate in Human Rights Studies at Columbia University.  Four weeks on, the war over Nagorno-Karabakh continues despite a third ceasefire agreement that was supposed to take effect on October 26. In the meantime, a parallel war – a war of (mis)information – finally starts to make headlines. Over the past two weeks, both academics and journalists reported on the ways in which Azerbaijan has been using its financial power to set the tone of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Academics at Harvard University and Columbia University pointed out that Azerbaijan has been investing in lobbying firms and using social media ‘trolls’ to spread misinformation in the aim of getting the public’s support. For example, Azerbaijani Telegram channel “The Tagiev” claimed that videos showing the capture and execution of two Armenian soldiers were staged, even though originally the channel itself posted them and identified them as real. However, an investigation by Bellingcat found that the videos were...
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Complicating Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy Through the Lens of White Feminism, Race, and Indigenous Rights

Complicating Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy Through the Lens of White Feminism, Race, and Indigenous Rights

By Rowena Kosher, Co-Editor of RightsViews and student at Columbia's School of General Studies majoring in Human Rights with a Concentration in Gender & Sexuality Studies. On September 18, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at 87, after serving on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for 27 years. Ginsburg, popularly known as RBG, and in her most recent fame “The Notorious RBG,” is a feminist icon. This is for good reason—she accomplished a number of “firsts” in her lifetime and her work contributed to groundbreaking progressive legal changes, particularly regarding gender.  Ginsburg graduated top of her Columbia class and became the first woman to be appointed as full professor at Columbia Law. As Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, she litigated over 300 sex discrimination cases before working on the D.C Court of Appeals for 13 years. Ginsburg joined SCOTUS in 1993, where she served until her death. During this time, Ginsburg rose to mainstream fame, becoming well known...
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