Letter from the Director
This June marked the three year anniversary of Governor Chris Gregoire’s signing of the legislation creating the Center for Human Rights. And although the relative calm of the summer months opens the opportunity for reflection on our accomplishments over the course of this and the previous two years, it’s certainly no time to let up in our efforts to expand and strengthen our work towards a world where every man, woman, and child enjoys access to fundamental human rights.
This year, our work has focused on growing the Center’s institutional capacity while strengthening partnerships with front-line human rights advocates. We’ve experienced remarkable growth towards our objectives, as you’ll see reflected in the pages of this Annual Report. None of this work would have been possible without the critical support we have received from all three UW campuses and from individuals and organizations within and outside the Puget Soud area. We’re grateful that our work is informed, inspired, and strengthened by so many collaborators.
We’ve made some important strides in each of our four program areas during the 2011 – 2012 academic year. Our work exploring Human Rights and the Environment continues apace as our final delegation of researchers travel to rural Guatemala this July to examine water rights issues as part of our “Human Rights and Natural Resource Management in Guatemala Project.” The delegation will collect data and advise our partners on real-world solutions to the water-related problems affecting their communities. Our team anticipates publishing our findings from this project during the fall of 2012. In our work on Human Rights, Memory, and Justice, we’re continuing to investigate cases of wartime human rights violations in collaboration with the Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador, through research conducted in Seattle, Washington D.C., and El Salvador.
Work in our third program area, Human Rights at Home, has intensified this year. Not only have we collaborated on smaller projects with various local organizations, we also culminated a yearlong collaboration with OneAmerica this April. Our jointly-released research report documents rights concerns related to systematic practices of the Border Patrol along Washington’s northern border. More recently, two different lawsuits have been launched in an effort to hold immigration authorities accountable for precisely the practices we denounced. We’ve also been gratified to participate in conversations with elected officials around possible policy changes to address these problems.
Likewise, our Human Rights and Education program is thriving. Our student-led support of educational projects in Guatemala and Kenya has continued to deepen this year. This spring we had the opportunity to honor and support through our two endowed funds a new crop of student leaders who have embarked this summer on their own hands-on human rights projects. Their work will take them to Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Washington DC. I’m excited to see their project outcomes and look forward to sharing their reports from the field.
None of this activity would have been possible, of course, without the enthusiasm of our students, the expertise of our faculty, or the excellence of our staff. In particular, I’m grateful for the leadership and commitment of our Assistant Director, Scarlett Aldebot-Green, whose day-to-day dedication is what makes it possible to carry out the CHR’s bold vision for dynamic growth.
These activities also wouldn’t be possible, of course, without a diverse array of supporters beyond the confines of our campus. From individual donors who’ve bought CHR t-shirts or otherwise chipped in towards our cause, to the multiple foundations who’ve underwritten our major research initiatives, we’re grateful for your confidence in our work. We invite you to continue your participation and partnership in the years ahead.