The U.S.-EU Summit: Next Steps for Human Rights

The U.S.-EU Summit: Next Steps for Human Rights

By Ali Cain, RightsViews staff writer. President Biden’s summit with European leaders on June 15, 2021, was an important step in rebuilding the United States-European alliance. Contrary to former President Trump’s belief that the European Union (EU) is a ‘foe,’ Europe remains one of the United States most important allies, especially in promoting human rights and democratization. Biden’s statement that “Europe is our natural partner…we are committed to the same democratic norms and institutions, and they are increasingly under attack” summarizes why the U.S. and Europe must persist in using their shared values as a platform for cooperation. Despite the summit’s optimism, many challenges lie ahead in a renewed transatlantic relationship, especially in promoting human rights.  The COVID-19 pandemic remains the most pressing issue for all countries. However, geopolitical concerns present the largest obstacle to an effective transatlantic response to human rights abuses. The U.S. and EU face a combative China that utilizes investments, technology, and trade as successful foreign policy carrots...
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In a Win For Trans Rights, Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal Challenging Landmark Ruling

In a Win For Trans Rights, Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal Challenging Landmark Ruling

By Susy Prochazka, RightsViews staff writer.  On the 52nd anniversary of the start of the Stonewall uprising, advocates of LGBTQ rights scored a major victory when the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal challenging a landmark trans rights ruling. On Monday, June 28th, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that required a Virginia public high school to let a transgender student use the bathroom corresponding with his gender identity. The Supreme Court’s decision represents a major victory for trans rights advocates amidst the flurry of anti-trans policies targeting trans youth that have emerged across the U.S. this past year.  This case began in 2015 when Gavin Grimm, a then-16 year old transgender high school student, sued his public high school over a policy that prevented him from using the boys restroom. Beginning in his freshman year in high school, Grimm identified as male and started taking hormones. But...
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Environmental Justice for All in Gowanus, Brooklyn

Environmental Justice for All in Gowanus, Brooklyn

By Lindsey Alpaugh, RightsViews staff writer. Gowanus became one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in New York City in the 2010s, famous for its Whole Foods, art scene, and the canal. The Gowanus canal is a historic industrial site, hosting a combination of toxic chemicals and CSOs (Combined Sewage Outflows). The chemical and industrial pollution was so bad that in 2010, the Gowanus Canal was designated as a Federal Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This designation began a $500 million clean-up effort, which involved dredging contaminated sediment from the canal.  Despite these environmental hazards, the neighborhood experienced an influx of wealthier new residents. From 2000 to 2013, the average home value in Gowanus increased 145.78%. What does environmental justice look like in a gentrifying, formerly industrial neighborhood that sits in a flood zone and is home to one of the most toxic waterways in the United States?  The Gowanus canal first became an industrial zone by the mid 19th...
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2021 Brings on a Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation in the U.S.

2021 Brings on a Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation in the U.S.

By: Isidora Roskic, RightsViews staff writer. At the start of May, Montana broke the United States’ record for enacting the highest number of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in a given calendar year. On May 7th, Governor Greg Gianforte signed a new athletic bill that barred transgender athletes from participating in school and university sports teams that don’t correspond with their sex assigned at birth. Supporters of the ban believed it would ensure transgender women did not have an unfair advantage over cisgender women in sports competitions. Despite the lack of research supporting such claims, similar bills have been passed in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  Much to the dismay of the LGBTQ+ community, Montana’s latest attack on queer youth is not surprising, 2021 quickly became one of the worst years in the country for sexual and gender minorities. Alphonso David, President of Human Rights Campaign, warned that the wave of discriminatory legislation is the result of national anti-LGBTQ+ groups coordinating with anti-equality...
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What the Storming of the U.S. Capitol tells us about Contemporary Human Rights

What the Storming of the U.S. Capitol tells us about Contemporary Human Rights

By: Noah Smith, RightsViews Staff Writer January 6, 2021, will live in infamy as the day American citizens defiled the United States Capitol. A day in which violent insurrectionists brandished the Confederate flag in the Capitol’s hallowed halls, sacked the empty Senate chamber, attacked and killed Capitol Police officers, and called for former Vice President Mike Pence’s execution. All in a miscarried attempt to forcibly overturn the results of the 2020 United States presidential election. Five people died and more than 140 were injured. The atrocities of January 6, 2021, will leave an indelible scar on the conscience of our nation, reminding us all that democracy is fragile and human rights even more so. In the aftermath of the Capitol attack, prominent conservative voices largely downplayed its severity. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) expressed his anger at the perpetrators just hours after the attack, stating “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and...
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SCOTUS Set to Abort Roe v. Wade?

SCOTUS Set to Abort Roe v. Wade?

By guest contributor Apurva Ambasth, an undergraduate student of B.A.LL.B.(Hons.) at NUSRL, Ranchi, India. The announcement of the Supreme Court on May 17, 2021 to take up the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization caused quite a stir. The case deals with the constitutionality of the Gestational Age Act, the 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Court has stated that it would be dealing with the issue “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional?” The hearing of the case would commence in October and the Court is likely to deliver a judgment by spring 2022. This move is a direct, lethal threat to the landmark judgment of Roe v. Wade which guarantees the constitutional right to abortion throughout the United States.  The District Court of Mississippi and the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit both being bound by the precedent held that states cannot ban abortions before the fetus becomes viable,...
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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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Student Debt Forgiveness is a Human Rights Issue

Student Debt Forgiveness is a Human Rights Issue

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. Americans owe over $1.7 trillion in student loan debt and the Federal Reserve projects that 31% of all U.S. adults have student loans. House and Senate Democrats have frequently implored President Biden to forgive up to $50,000 of federal debt through an Executive Order, an action Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has articulated Biden should take during his first 100 days in office. During a recent CNN town hall, an audience member asked President Biden what actions his administration will take to forgive up to $50,000. He quickly responded by stating “I will not make that happen.” President Biden has given several reasons for why he does not support large student debt forgiveness, namely, he believes such action would disproportionately benefit students who go to “elite” private colleges. “It depends on whether or not you go to a private university or public university,” he said...
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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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