PIHRL Students and Director Submit Reports to the United Nations
Students from the Program on International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis worked with PIHRL Director, Professor George Edwards, to prepare and present two reports before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland in July. (Photo: Professor Edwards, Katherine Hendrix, '03, Jhon Sanchez)
Professor Edwards supervised a team of students and alumni, as well as one undergraduate IUPUI student, in the preparation of a report on U.S. government violations of rights of sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, and transgendered people). The PIHRL team was made up of Jeff Collins (2L), who is the research assistant for the program, as well as several Master of Laws students--Jhon Sanchez, an LL.M. student from Colombia who is currently working on his J.D. degree; Simeon Sungi and Tuinese Amuzu, both LL.M. students; as well as Katherine Hendrix, ’03 and a former PIHRL intern. Maria Bates, a student at Stetson School of Law and a PIHRL fellow, also contributed significantly to the project. Hendrix and Sanchez were both present in Geneva, along with Prof. Edwards, for the presentation, which took place July 17 and 18.
Sanchez says working on the project was a great experience and he hopes to be involved in similar initiatives in the future. “Definely, I would like to repeat the experience. It is a concrete way to help make things happen. In fact, I would like to have a similar project for the upcoming year with the International Human Rights Law Society. It’s best when people from different disciplines work on this kind of project,” said Sanchez.
Katherine Hendrix is also enthusiastic about her experience working on the report. She said, "I learned that we, as graduates and law students, have the power and opportunity to make an impact at the international level. The most fascinating part of the experience for me was watching the thread of influence that our group had. For example, we wrote the report which provided the legal analysis and factual information that the committee members needed to be informed on the issue of discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) persons in the United States, and it included substantive areas such as marital rights, adoption rights, employment discrimination, violence, discrimination in the military, and more." Hendrix said she feels that there were issues that would not have made it into the final draft of the U.N. report had it not been for the effort that she and Sanchez made to communicate with committee members in person. She said, "There are substantive areas in the Concluding Observations that woulnd not have been included had it not been for our advocacy."
Professor Edwards, working as part of a National Bar Association (NBA) team, submitted reports on U.S. government violations of human rights of persons in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. PIHRL students helped prepare the reports that Edwards and the NBA team presented. (Photo: Prof. George Edwards with Prof. Dorothea Beane of Stetson University College of Law at the hearings in Geneva).
On July 27, the U.N.’s HRC issued its final report, and some of the language from the reports submitted by the IU team was adopted into the U.N. document (see the U.N. web site for the full document: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/AdvanceDocs/CCPR.C.USA.CO.pdf).