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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“Abort the Government”: Polish Citizens Challenge Poland’s Retreat to Autocracy

“Abort the Government”: Polish Citizens Challenge Poland’s Retreat to Autocracy

By Ali Cain, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the European History, Politics, and Society  MA Program Over the last three weeks, Polish citizens have ignited the country’s biggest protests since the 1989 pro-democracy movement in response to the passing of a de facto abortion ban. Although Poland already had the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, its highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, concluded that performing abortions, even in situations where a baby would be born sick or disabled, violates the Constitution’s guarantee to the protection of life. This ruling poses immense infringements on women’s rights and pushes the country into deeper democratic backsliding.  Despite Polish President Andrzej Duda announcing that the ban would be delayed indefinitely, protests have developed into a larger retaliation against the ruling far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS). Since its rise to power in 2015, the Party maintains support by enflaming cultural tensions over LGBTQ+ rights, migration, and abortion. Prior to the Tribunal’s ruling, women...
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Why the EU Should Reconsider Renegotiating the 2016 EU-Turkey Migration Deal

Why the EU Should Reconsider Renegotiating the 2016 EU-Turkey Migration Deal

Guest Contributor Ali Cain is an M.A. Candidate in the European History, Politics and Society Program at Columbia University. She is additionally the Program Coordinator for the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR). Her research interests include populism, refugee rights and transatlantic relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used over 4 million refugees in Turkey as political blackmail against the European Union (EU). Leveraging the 2016 EU-Turkey Migration Deal, Erdogan has consistently threatened to “open the floodgates” and allow refugees to cross into neighboring Greece whenever his demands are not  met. Previous demands have included quicker EU accession talks, European support for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria, and more funding to support refugees.  In late February 2020, Russian and Syrian government forces attacked the Syrian province of Idlib, forcing thousands to flee into northwest Turkey. In response, Erdogan finally fulfilled his threats and allowed thousands of refugees to leave, even providing buses for transportation to the...
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A Fresh Start in EU Migration Policy: Re-examining the Dublin Regulation

A Fresh Start in EU Migration Policy: Re-examining the Dublin Regulation

Guest Contributor Ali Cain is an M.A. Candidate in the European History, Politics and Society Program at Columbia University. She is additionally the Program Coordinator for the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR). Her research interests include populism, refugee rights and transatlantic relations. During her 2019 candidacy for European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen proposed a New Pact on Migration and Asylum to “relaunch the Dublin reform of asylum rules.” Ms. von der Leyen is correct: Europe’s asylum system needs a fresh start. The Dublin Regulation III mandates that asylum seekers register upon arrival in the first European Union (EU) member state he or she enters. At the refugee crisis’ peak in 2015, 1.3 million asylum seekers and migrants arrived in Europe. Many traveled through the Mediterranean Sea, designating Italy and Greece as first ports of entry and, therefore, responsible for processing asylum claims. The influx of asylum seekers has led to immense strains on local governments,...
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Will Brexit Setback Human Rights Protections in the United Kingdom?

Will Brexit Setback Human Rights Protections in the United Kingdom?

Brian Dan is a guest contributor from the University of Strathclyde and a L.L.M. candidate in human rights law Is Brexit just a snag in European Union integration without accompanying regression in human rights legislation? Of course not. Brexit signals a backsliding in human rights protections and imperils the closest thing to a constitutional framework for human rights in the United Kingdom. The U.K. has over 40 years of EU law transposed into its own laws. Together, the EU laws, which are supreme to the domestic laws of the EU states; the Common Law system of England and Wales, which is law created by judges in courts; and the legislative directives of the Council of Europe, an international organization comprised of 47 European states, constitute an overarching, legally-binding system for the promotion, respect and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms. The human rights protections provided to British citizens by the U.K.’s membership in the EU and Council of Europe are distinct but also...
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Viktor Orbán’s Hungary: A Nationalist Government Within the European Union

Viktor Orbán’s Hungary: A Nationalist Government Within the European Union

By Bárbara Matias, an M.A. student in human rights In late May, thousands of Hungarians marched against Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s educational reform laws subduing foreign universities and non-governmental organizations. The educational reforms were the latest in a series of clashes between the right-wing Hungarian government and the European Union (EU); the protests yet another manifestation of civil society's mobilization against Orbán’s opposition to EU frameworks. On May 1, the 13th anniversary of Hungary’s accession to the EU, for example, thousands took to the streets in a pro-EU rally, suitably called "We Belong to Europe.’’ This past April, Prime Minister Orbán and Hungary's parliament passed an amendment to Hungary’s national law on higher education, tightening regulations on independent and foreign-funded universities. Specifically, the law targets the Central European University (CEU), a Budapest-based university founded by Hungarian-born American financier George Soros and accredited in the United States and Hungary since 1993. The current government under Orbán sought legal means to shut the university down, viewing...
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