UC Berkeley Center Hosting Human Rights Session Nov. 4, Focusing On Student Experience

By Kathleen Maclay, Public Affairs


Whether in Kosovo, Tibet, Guatamala or Rwanda, students and graduates of the University of California, Berkeley have worked around the world to translate human rights from theory into practice.

Now, they're taking time out to share experiences and perspectives from their individual studies in fields ranging from anthropology to journalism, from law to geography.

The mechanics of specific and general human rights work, accompanying challenges and rewards will be explored in a 2-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4 seminar at UC Berkeley's Faculty Club.

"It's an ongoing process to let the campus community know that human rights is an interdisciplinary field," said Harvey Weinstein, Human Rights Center associate director and clinical professor in the School of Public Health.

The third conference of its kind sponsored by the Human Rights Center, the event also aims to demonstrate how academia and activism can work together to heal and build bridges of understanding, Weinstein said.

Topics to be explored at the conference by the campus's human rights fellows include:

Legal perspectives on the plight of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic.

The experiences of a journalism school graduate working with the Human Rights Watch organization in Indonesia.

A public health graduate's survey of human rights violations in Kosovar Albanian refugee camps.

The rights of children in Tibet.

Whether victims of natural disaster, such as hurricanes, are more vulnerable because of prior human rights violations, as measured by experiences in Central America.

And a student's perspective on human rights in China, as witnessed just after the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

The conference also will highlight research by international teams of students about the attitudes of judges and prosecutors in Bosnia-Herzegovina toward alleged human rights abuses during a period of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The goal is ultimately to help with reconciliation and social reconstruction, said Weinstein.

The student teams, which included three students from UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School, will present findings and recommendations in a Human Rights Center-International Human Rights Law Clinic report to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in winter, 2000. It also is anticipated that the report will be the focus of a conference in Sarajevo.

Under the direction of Weinstein and Laurel Fletcher, associate director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic, the students crafted 44 questions. They posed the questions earlier this year to 30 prosecutors and judges who represented Bosnia's two primary geographic regions and three "constituent" peoples: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. The students declined to reveal the specific questions, but said they dealt with the role of decision-makers in the judiciary, as well as how prosecutors function.


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