Professor Edwards hosts International Colloquium on Multi Regional Approaches to Human Rights Problems
On 15 August 2008, Professor George E. Edwards hosted representatives of Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East for discussions about solving human rights problems globally, and in the participants' specific regions. In a colloquium discussion with law students, faculty, staff, and members of the Indiana community, Professor Edwards focused on commonalities among the human rights problems faced in different countries, rather than differences. He noted that everyone would benefit from learning about the strategies employed in different regions to curb human rights violations. “We can all learn from each other about tackling human rights problems.” He said that “we all benefit from exchanging ideas about our backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and using what we learn to combat violations.” The colloquium was held at the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis.
The International Visitors came from Bangladesh, Nigeria, Honduras, Panama, Namibia, Malaysia, and the West Bank. Participants at the colloquium, including Master of Laws students, also represented many nations and territories, including Cameroon, Southern Cameroon, India, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Bosnia.
The visitors work on a wide range of human rights issues in their home countries, including rights of and related to women, children, indigenous peoples, minorities, development, the environment, and general civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Professor Edwards congratulated the Delegation, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State International Visitors Program for visits to Indianapolis and to other cities around the country. He noted that everyone present was involved in “citizen diplomacy.” He said that “Condoleeza Rice is in the Republic of Georgia this week involved in official diplomacy. You—private citizens from around the world—are here on a citizen diplomacy mission. You are here to share your cultures, experiences, and other insights with us, as we are to share our cultures, experiences and other insights with you.” Professor Edwards continued, “When you return to your respective homes around the world, you will be able to tell your friends, families and colleagues about what you learned in the United States. And when those of us who live in Indiana leave this room, we will be able to speak about what we learned from our new friends from around the world. International barriers are breaking down. Mutual understanding is being enhanced. Our communities are closer together. We are all citizen diplomats.”
Professor Edwards’ presentation was entitled “Multi-Regional Approaches to Solving International Human Rights Problems.”
Professor Edwards is the Carl M. Gray Professor of Law and the Founding Director of the Law School’s Program in International Human Rights Law. He recently returned from a trip to Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where he met with government officials and others about human rights law issues. He also held discussions about American Legal Education, as the law school is enhancing its Master of Laws (LL.M.) program, most students of whom are from overseas. Furthermore, he engaged in discussions about placing human rights law interns in Kuwait, Bahrain, Laos, Thailand, Japan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
- Ms. Habiba Akter, Executive Director, Ashar Alo Society (Bangladesh);
- Mr. Jimmy Walter Andino Mejia, Executive Director, Guaruma Organization (Honduras);
- Ms. Wai Ling Ho, Honorable Secretary, All Women's Action Society, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia);
- Mr. Don Muroua, Program Manager, Rural People's Institute for Social Empowerment in Namibia (RISE): Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) (Namibia);
- Ms. Safiya Tahir Abdullahi, Coordinator, Adolescent Girls Initiative (Nigeria);
- and Ms. Mawakib S. A. Massad, Administrative Director, Health Development Information and Policy Institute (HDIP) (West Bank).
- Mr. Leonides Quiroz, Coordinator, Negotiation Commission for the Wounaan Land, Wounaan Tribe Congress (Panama).
One of the International Visitors, Mr. Leonides Quiroz, Coordinator, Negotiation Commission for the Wounaan Land, Wounaan Tribe Congress (Panama), worked with the Program in International Human Rights Law and the International Human Rights Law Society in preparing and submitting a United Nations Shadow Report on Panama's indigenous people, which includes the Wounaan tribe. In March 2008, the law students presented the UN Shadow Report to UN Human Rights Committee experts at UN Headquarters in New York. The experts called the Panamanian government's attention to the human rights concerns bedeviling Panama's indigenous people.
Participants in the International Visitor Colloquium included Mr. William Hotham of the College of Law, United Kingdom, who is also a representative of Bridges Across Borders, an NGO based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, involved in a wide range of community activities. IU-Indianapolis law students Heidi Reed and Jeff Collins worked at Bridges Across Borders during the 2007 summer. Mr. Hotham is a Visiting Fellow at the law school’s Program in International Human Rights Law.
Also participating was Professor Halit Yilmaz, from the Law Faculty at Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey. Professor Yilmaz is a Visiting Scholar at the law school’s Center on Health and Bioethics.
Professor Edwards asked participants how the Program in International Human Rights law might be able to assist their organizations. Several participants expressed an interest in collaborating with the Program on projects (including United Nations Shadow Reports), and receiving IU-Indianapolis international human rights law interns.
Professor Edwards spoke about his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, and how the Saudi government was keen on accepting an IU-Indianapolis intern to intern for the Saudi Arabia Human Rights Commission.
At least one participant— Mr. Leonides Quiroz, Coordinator, Negotiation Commission for the Wounaan Land, Wounaan Tribe Congress (Panama)—also expressed an interest in joining the Master of Laws program at IU School of Law – Indianapolis.