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Advancing Human Rights at Home: Annual Report 2020-2021

Two views of the Salish Sea: Left, an undeveloped shoreline. Right, March Point near Anacortes, WA. The Shell Puget Sound Refinery daily processes about 145,000 barrels of crude oil shipped from Canadian via the Trans Mountain Pipeline. If completed, the Trans Mountain Expansion would triple the amount of oil processed, transported, and burned, which will also multiply numerous threats including oil spills, toxic fumes and fires. Photos: Jessica Rose
Two views of the Salish Sea: Left, an undeveloped shoreline. Right, March Point near Anacortes, WA. The Shell Puget Sound Refinery daily processes about 145,000 barrels of crude oil shipped from Canadian via the Trans Mountain Pipeline. If completed, the Trans Mountain Expansion would triple the amount of oil processed, transported, and burned, which will also multiply numerous threats including oil spills, toxic fumes and fires. Photos: Jessica Rose

October 29, 2021

Letter from the Director

As a professor and a parent soldiering through the third year of schooling upended by pandemic conditions, it’s sometimes hard to be upbeat. My eight-year-old recently said she doesn’t want to join the rest of the family at the dinner table because all we ever talk about is “the destruction of the world.” And she’s not wrong—while of course we also enjoy moments of merriment, in recent months and years, we increasingly find ourselves coming together to reckon with the effects of climate change, institutional racism, inequitable access to vaccines, and so many other injustices. But although my work at the helm of the Center for Human Rights means engagement with these tough issues, it’s also a bright light that helps me through these times, because every day I catch glimpses of a different future.

You can see those glimpses in these pages. Years of research by faculty, students, and staff have helped bring about the closure of immigrant detention facilities in our state. New research partnerships with Native communities are helping highlight strategies for the restoration of the Salish Sea. Our students’ needle-in-a-haystack search for historical documents about atrocities committed 40 years ago is helping torture survivors heal. And this past year, we disbursed $200,000 dollars—more than ever before—to support students engaged in their own human rights projects, examining and contesting abuses around the world.

Indeed, although the pandemic has forced retrenchment in many sectors, for us at the UW Center for Human Rights it’s been a time of expansion. Thanks to increased support for the work we do, our team has grown, our projects are pushing forward, and our students continue to buoy my spirits with their courage and creativity.

This past March, for example, after a long quarter of only interacting online, students from from my 100-person human rights class planned a solidarity day outside ICE’s Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma—to protest the abuses happening there, to call Washingtonians to support HB1090, (the bill to shut it down—see more in our 2020-2021 project updates), but above all, to let folks detained inside know they’re not alone. It was moving to connect by phone with those inside and know they could hear the noise we were making beyond the walls. It was searing to hear the words of a formerly detained mother who came to share her experience with us; even just translating her descriptions of the pain the facility caused her left me gutted. Yet it was also hopeful and sweet to see the pent-up eagerness of students to connect with each other in person. About 60 people showed up, masked and socially-distanced; many walked around introducing themselves to each other, after having met via Zoom all quarter. One student said to me, “See, you haven’t been lecturing into the void all quarter; we’re here!”

I feel honored and grateful for my students and the relentless visions they offer of a world in which things can be different. Thank you for supporting them, and us, as we work to bring those visions into focus.

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy

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

Inside this Issue

Download the 2020-2021 annual report: “Advancing Human Rights at Home”

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Advancing Human Rights At Home: Annual Report 2020-2021 (PDF)