Global Justice Center Blog

Canary in the Coal Mine: Abortion & the Commission on Unalienable Rights

GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan and GJC Legal Adviser Elena Sarver published this article in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Abstract:

This past July, the Trump administration announced the creation of a new body with a curious name—the “Commission on Unalienable Rights.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the effort as an attempt to “ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” However, universal human rights norms exist to hold states accountable: they cannot be defined, redefined, or limited based on the demands or viewpoints of a single government. While Secretary Pompeo claims that he wants to depoliticize human rights, this commission does the exact opposite.

The establishment of this panel is yet another offense on the international system as part of the Trump administration’s regressive agenda. This action follows a clear pattern of ideological attacks on US engagement with the human rights system and the norms they uphold. Such recent examples, as this submission will discuss in greater detail, include withdrawing from the Human Rights Council, erasing reproductive rights from human rights reports, and cutting funding to the Organization of American States in an attempt to censor abortion-related speech. Additionally, the denial of abortion care to women held in detention at the US border, the problematic nomination of Andrew Bremberg as US Ambassador to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, and the removal of language referencing sexual and reproductive health care in UN Security Council Resolution 2467 also fall into the administration’s pattern of undermining the importance of women’s health and bodily autonomy.

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Suu Kyi to lead Myanmar team contesting genocide court case

Excerpt of Associated Press article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center, said Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s civilian government “failed to act against genocide in Rakhine State with any level of urgency and have taken no steps to hold the military to account.”

“The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable,” Radhakrishnan said in a statement.

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Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar against genocide accusation at UN court

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, noted that Myanmar's civilian government had failed to act in 2017 and taken no steps to hold the military to account.

"Now, they are going to defend the military and the government's genocidal actions on one of the world's largest and most influential stages," Radhakrishnan said in a statement. 

"The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable."

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There can be no real accountability in Myanmar if women remain on the sidelines

Excerpt of Women's Media Center op-ed co-authored by GJC Senior Burma Researcher Phyu Phyu Sann.

Myanmar presents one of the world’s most difficult challenges to combating impunity, assisting victims, and reforming the institutions responsible for committing sexual violence and other crimes in conflicts. For years, women in Myanmar have called on the international community to intervene to put meaningful pressure on their human rights abusers. They are demanding an end to military control in the country and accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence and other egregious crimes against women.

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Urgency is Key for Rohingya Repatriation

Rohingya refugee women hold placards as they take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Maggie Moore/USAID

By Nishan Kafle

Although the Rohingya of Burma have been subject to unrelenting government persecution for decades, it took an unprecedented form in 2017 when an estimated 530,000 Rohingya were violently driven from their home in Rakhine State in a military campaign that UN experts have called a genocide.

South Asia is no stranger to forced migration. Between 1991 and 1993, more than 100,000 Nepali speaking Bhutanese—commonly known as Lhotshampas—were forced out of Bhutan into Eastern Nepal. This was the result of the “One Nation, One People” policy, adopted in the 1980s, which aimed to shield the majority “Druk” Bhutanese identity from any Nepali influences. As a result, a mass exodus ensued with thousands of Bhutanese forced out of their homes into Eastern Nepal. Nepal, already a poor country under a strict monarchy, was ill-equipped to deal with such a great influx of refugees. And so, the Bhutanese were forced to live in squalid conditions under constant discrimination from people with whom they ostensibly shared a language and tradition.

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