Statement on the Formation of the “Commission on Unalienable Rights"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 9, 2019

[NEW YORK, NY] — Yesterday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of a new “Commission on Unalienable Rights” at the State Department, which Secretary Pompeo described as an attempt to “ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” 

The establishment of this panel is yet another assault on the international system in the service 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 as 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. 

Statement from Global Justice Center President, Akila Radhakrishnan:

“It is not up to any one country to determine what is or is not a human right. That remains the ambit of human rights treaties, bodies, experts, and courts whose sole purpose is to define and monitor compliance with international human rights standards. 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. What’s more, the commission is overwhelmingly staffed by individuals who are openly hostile to abortion rights and to the rights of LGBTQ persons—conservative ideologues who have built careers at the expense of human rights, free thinking, and democratic values.” 

For more information contact:
Liz Olson, Communications Manager at Global Justice Center, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (212) 725-6530 ext. 217

June News Update: We Won't Go Back

The Trump administration’s new strategy on Women, Peace, and Security is one more glaring example of their dangerous, regressive, and illegal approach to women’s health and rights. The United States is eroding women’s equality at home and abroad by exporting censorship, enacting restrictive abortion policies, and undermining protections for survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

We will not let the Trump administration turn back the clock. Women and girls deserve to live with dignity, in full control of their bodies, and with equal protection under the law.

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Joint Statement on the Assignment of the Situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 28, 2019

[NEW YORK, NY]– The Global Justice Center, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Naripokkho, and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice welcome recent developments at the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning the Situation in the People's Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Both the intention of the Office of the Prosecutor to undertake an investigation, and the assignment of the situation to Pre-Trial Chamber III bring the ICC one step closer to providing accountability for the crimes committed against the Rohingya.

Response to Proposed United States Strategy on Women, Peace and Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— June 13, 2019

[NEW YORK, NY] - This week, the Trump Administration released the United States government’s latest strategy on women, peace and security (“WPS”).  While it contains lofty goals to advance women’s equality and political participation, these objectives are directly undermined by current US policies.

“The Trump Administration’s stated commitment to advancing women’s equality through the WPS strategy is absurd,” says Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan. “In fact, this administration is actively harming women and girls around the world by expanding the Global Gag Rule, blocking language on access to life-saving healthcare services for war rape victims at the UN Security Council, and impeding international efforts at accountability for gender-based violence through its threats against the International Criminal Court. Until these policies, and others, change, this WPS strategy is not even worth the paper it’s printed on.”

May News Update: The Time Is Urgent, And You Must Take It

This May was a whirlwind of events for the Global Justice Center. 

We hosted the inaugural Global Justice Awards, and were honored to see so many friends and allies show their support for our mission. We were inspired by Patricia Sellers' powerful acceptance speech: "to all the young feminist lawyers: go to the places where they say you have no business. The time is urgent, and you must take it."

Taking those words to heart, we advocated for gender justice at events around the world—from the launch of the Gendered Peace project at the London School of Economics to the Gender and Genocide panel on the sidelines of the UN Security Council debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

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The Global Justice Center Mourns Lenora Lapidus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 6, 2019

[NEW YORK, NY] – The Global Justice Center mourns the passing of Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and member of the Global Justice Center’s Board of Directors. She passed away at home on May 5, 2019, after a long battle with cancer.

Lenora was a visionary lawyer and pillar in the struggle for women’s rights. She led the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project since 2001, focusing on eliminating gender-based violence and defending the rights of marginalized women. In 2008, she litigated Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a landmark case declaring the freedom from domestic violence as a human right.

April News Update: Reproductive Rights at the Security Council

Last week, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2467 on Women, Peace and Security. As a last minute compromise, language on sexual and reproductive heath was removed, undermining the resolution's goal to address the needs of victims of sexual violence in conflict.

Reproductive health care—including access to abortion services—is a critical component of necessary and comprehensive medical care for survivors of sexual violence in conflict. 

We will not allow these priorities to be played against one another. Sexual and reproductive rights must not be sacrificed in order to gain other protections.

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"That's Illegal" Episode 10: #BringBackOurGirls: Five Years Later

In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Professor of Political Science, African & Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY and one of the founders of the Bring Back Our Girls NYC campaign, to discuss the fifth anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the 276 Chibok girls and gender-based violence in Nigeria.  

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United Nations Human Rights Committee Requests Information on United States Violations of Sexual and Reproductive Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 3, 2019

[NEW YORK, NY] – Today, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) challenged the United States’s restrictive abortion policies as potential violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its list of issues prior to submission of the fifth periodic report of the United States. The Global Justice Center (GJC) commends the HRC for asking the US to provide information on the impact of the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule on women's rights under the ICCPR, including to non-discrimination and equal protection under Article 2, 3 and 26, the right to life in Article 6 and the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under Article 7.

Statement: Response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Expanded Application of Global Gag Rule and Siljander Amendment

Today, the Trump Administration launched another attack on women’s health, expanding the scope of the Global Gag Rule and the application of the Siljander Amendment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced that the US will cut its assistance to the Organization of American States (OAS) based on claims that its agencies are lobbying for abortions. As a quasi-governmental body, OAS recommendations are expert guidance, not lobbying. The US is censoring free speech around the world and is using the Siljander Amendment to justify decreasing contributions to the OAS on purely ideological grounds.

The OAS and its subsidiary bodies, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, work to ensure the fundamental human rights of women and girls living in member states. Threatening these institutions’ ability to carry out their mandate through the power of the purse is both unconscionable and illegal. Over the past two weeks at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Trump Administration cemented the US’s new position as a government opposed to women’s rights, health and autonomy—Secretary Pompeo’s announcement today is one more dangerous step in that direction.

For more information contact:
Liz Olson, Communications Manager at Global Justice Center, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (212) 725-6530 ext. 217

March News Update: No Rollbacks on Gender Justice

The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is coming to an end, and we have been busy over the last two weeks bringing our legal analysis to the conversations about equality and empowerment. 

While this year's CSW has provided a platform for many crucial and progressive discussions, we are troubled by reports that the United States is working to remove the term "gender" from CSW's outcome document. If realized, this would represent a major step backwards for gender justice.

We cannot accept rollbacks on gender equality. The international community must stand together and fight to uphold the rights of women, girls, and members of the LGBTQ community.

 

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Why I Support the Global Justice Center

Happy International Women’s Day!

My name is Jelena Pia, and I am thrilled to serve as a new board member for the Global Justice Center, an organization that embodies my feminist principles and passion for gender justice.

Every day, but especially today, I am grateful to be a part of the GJC family.As a diplomat and activist, I have seen firsthand how GJC has fundamentally shifted the global conversation on issues relating to justice and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence in conflict.

As a representative of a small country, Andorra, at the United Nations, I was at the forefront of negotiations of international norms and treaties that set new standards for gender justice. The experience taught me the power of access and the injustice that comes with not allowing those who most need it to have a voice.

Joining GJC's board member allows me to continue my journey and stay true to my values. Throughout my career, I made sure to always remember what it means to be a woman from a small country. I know that strengthening women’s leadership and supporting the work of activists is critical to the women, peace and security agenda.

February News Update: Demanding Justice at the UN Security Council

Earlier this month, GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan briefed the United Nations Security Council on accountability for conflict-related sexual violence.

As Akila emphasized to Council members, "When states and the United Nations fail to act, it sends a dangerous message that genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity can be committed with impunity."

We know that, at its core, sexual violence in conflict is an expression of patriarchy and inequality. From Burma to Iraq, the Global Justice Center is fighting to make sure perpetrators of sexual violence are not shielded from justice by antiquated and discriminatory domestic laws.

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Human Rights Organizations Issue Joint Submission to CEDAW Committee Ahead of Myanmar Review

   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 22, 2019

[NEW YORK, NY] –  Today, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (“Committee”) will meet to discuss Myanmar’s Exceptional Report on the situation of Rohingya women and girls from northern Rakhine State. The Committee requested the Exceptional Report months after Myanmar’s Security Forces launched a massive attack on Rohingya civilians in August 2017, destroying almost 400 villages and forcing over 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. This was only the fourth time the Committee had requested an Exceptional Report since its founding in 1982.

January News Update: Trump's Illegal Global Gag

On his first full day in office, the same day as the groundbreaking Women’s March, President Trump reinstated and expanded the devastating Global Gag Rule.

For two years, we have seen the consequences of this destructive and illegal policy—two years of clinics closing, women dying, and doctors being illegally denied their protected right to free speech.

The Global Justice Center is on the frontlines fighting for the rights of women and their doctors to make treatment decisions without interference from the US government. Change is possible, and together we can make the world a safer place for women. 

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Statement: Proposed Rule for ACA Marketplace Violates Women’s Fundamental Rights

The Global Justice Center (GJC) has submitted a comment to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the department to withdraw the proposed rule on abortion coverage for the ACA Marketplace. The proposed rule will create bureaucratic obstacles for abortion coverage, including instituting separate payment requirements for plans that cover abortion services.

The proposed rule violates women’s fundamental rights under the US Constitution and international human rights law. Human rights obligations protect access to abortion under a multitude of rights—including the rights to privacy, life, and health, and the right to be free from discrimination, torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The proposed rule would violate these protections by enacting discriminatory barriers to services needed only by women, stigmatizing abortion, and denying women access to safe affordable care, forcing them to seek out unsafe services at high risk to their health and lives.

"The outcome, and tacit intent, of the proposed rule is to discourage insurers from providing abortion coverage” says Global Justice Center Special Counsel, Michelle Onello. “It will impose onerous burdens on both insurers and consumers that aim to stigmatize abortion, embarrass women, annoy and inconvenience consumers, and increase administrative burdens on insurers.”

For more information contact:
Liz Olson, Communications Manager at Global Justice Center, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (212) 725-6530 ext. 217

December News Update: The Failed Promise of "Never Again"

This December marks 70 years since the ratification of the Genocide Convention, an anniversary that reminds us of the failed promise of "Never Again." 

To mark this important milestone, GJC released a groundbreaking legal analysis of the gender-based crimes of genocide. The report outlines how the continued failure to acknowledge the role gender plays in genocidal violence has undercut the development of an effective legal framework to prevent and punish genocide. 

The international community must learn from the shortcomings of seven decades of genocide prosecutions and failed prevention efforts. With accountability proceedings on the horizon for the Yazidis and Rohingya, the gendered crimes of genocide must not be ignored.

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New Report Provides First Comprehensive Legal Analysis of the Role of Gender in Genocide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 7, 2018

[New York] – Today, the Global Justice Center (GJC) released the first comprehensive legal analysis of the gender-based crimes of genocide. Over the past four years, the world has witnessed at least two genocidal campaigns—against the Yazidis in Iraq and against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Widespread sexual and gender-based violence was central to both, as in the genocides in Darfur, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Guatemala. The new report, Beyond Killing,details the role that gender plays in the commission of genocide and the role it must therefore play in efforts to prevent and punish it.

For too long, the understanding of genocide has centered on killing, a genocidal act that most often impacts men. Women and girls are more likely to survive the initial wave of killings—facing enslavement, beatings, starvation, degradation, and other acts that form constitutive acts of genocide. Survivors of these abuses are not just witnesses to the genocide: they are its intended targets and require accountability and reparations. When the gendered, non-killing crimes of genocide go unrecognized, women and girls, in particular, are denied justice for the abuses they have suffered.

October News Update: Spotlight on Gender-based Violence

Earlier this month, our partners Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end sexual violence in conflict. Sexual and gender-based crimes are in the international spotlight, and GJC is working overtime to make sure that these crimes are investigated and punished.

We just sent ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda our analysis of the crimes committed against the Rohingya, along with a letter urging her to prioritize sexual and gender based violence in the Court's investigation.

Photo: Frank Schwichtenberg / Own Work / CC BY-SA 4.0


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