Leading litigators, human rights attorneys and activists were brought into conversation at a one day conference convened by University of Washington School of Law, UW Center for Human Rights, and cosponsored by The Jackson School for International Studies Center for Global Studies and other sponsors. Named “Human Rights Abuses: Expose the Cover-ups,” this conference engaged crucial contemporary and historical human rights questions, and government (including the US government) roles in such.
Speakers at this conference knew the day-to-day complications of problematizing notions of “law” and “security.” Vince Warren, (Executive Director, of the Center for Constitutional Rights), and Almudena Bernabeu, (Director of the Center for Justice and Accountability), gave the co-keynote address on “expanding the concept of human rights and defeating attempts to cover-up crimes.” Session speakers and panelists conveyed their experiences and insight through powerful poetry and in-depth case studies of their own advocacy activism and academic research, painting a very real picture of the lives of those caught in legalized human rights abuse cases. Conference speakers were also able to address questions from grassroots activists, law students, and attorneys in practice.
“What we’re really talking about is a culture shift,” summarized Nikkita Oliver, one of the panelists and a Seattle based creative, attorney and anti-racist organizer. Indeed, from deconstructing narratives used as justification for mass incarceration, to analyzing government(s) silence around human rights violations in South and Central American in the 1980’s, the culture-shifting message spoke to the need to see the connection between the local and international fight for human rights, and to look beyond “cover-ups” that distract from the action that is required to restore accountability.
(All photos taken from event website)