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Center for Human Rights - Celebrating 15 Years! Students • Partners • Research

Research for Action: Annual Report 2018-2019

October 24, 2019

Letter from the Director

I‘m not going to lie—it’s been a tough year for human rights. It seems like every day there’s another reason to be discouraged about the state of our world, whether at home or abroad. On one particularly dark day this past February as I prepared to teach my human rights class, it occurred to me that my lectures felt like regular dispatches from a bureau of failed ideas.

Yet amid this rapacious and accelerating assault on hard-fought human rights concepts, this year at the Center for Human Rights we set about planning the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of our founding. 

It wasn’t an easy task, at least at first. But as we took stock of how far we’ve come, I came to realize there’s actually a great deal to celebrate in the extraordinary growth we’ve witnessed—and driven—in human rights work at the University of Washington. Our Center was created in 2009, not just to “do” human rights, but to take a different approach to the field. And ten years on, there are many things that make our Center unique:

  • We are the only university-based human rights center in the country founded by state law, and to have an explicit mandate to work in partnership with community-based organizations and practitioners towards real-world improvements in human rights.
  • We are the only university-based human rights center to have sued the federal government under FOIAand succeed!
  • As far as I know, we are the only university-based HR center to have been sued by ICE (more about that here).I take this as a sign we’re making a difference.

This past year alone, we’ve seen some extraordinary signs of our success at using top-notch research to inform policy and drive change. Last fall, the Washington state Supreme Court decided to end the use of the death penalty in our state, thanks to the path-breaking research conducted by CHR faculty associates Katherine Beckett and Heather Evans. And in the spring, the King County Executive issued an executive order to stop deportation flights from Boeing Field, in response to our Center’s publications about the human rights implications of ICE Air. These are big wins!

As always, our students are leading the way to as-yet-unknown human rights victories. Check out profiles of the work our undergraduate and graduate leaders are doing, supported by CHR awards. Last year, we handed out almost $112,000 in support to students, through scholarships, travel awards, hourly student worker salaries, research assistantships, stipends and student project support. Much, but not all, of this is made possible by the generosity of our donors, who have established five endowed funds that will support human rights students in perpetuity.

So there’s a lot to be grateful for, especially when you take the long view. Amid the challenges, we’re educating the next generation through a unique approach to human rights work, rooted in solid scholarship and supportive partnerships with frontlines advocates. We’re working in coalitions that wouldn’t’ve been imaginable a decade ago. And we’re committed to continuing this work in the face of adversity. 

We do need your help in this task, though. The work we do is more urgent than it’s ever been. We routinely patch together small gifts from multiple donors to create a stipend for a single student, one quarter, to work with us: can you chip in, too? No amount is too small (or large!). When you donate to support our students, you help underwrite the future of human rights engagement – and this gives all of us another reason to feel hopeful about the decade ahead. 

Thank you,

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy

Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights
Director, Center for Human Rights
Professor of International Studies and Law, Societies, and Justice

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