A team of less than ten members has the potential to save thousands of lives. That effect is something truly spectacular.
- Maeve Dwyer, Program Intern, Fall 2010
I spent the majority of my time at the Global Justice Center this fall poking around with social networking, trying to find a place for the Global Justice Center in the virtual world. Components of this newly expanded online presence include a twitter account and furthering the “listening” projects started by an earlier intern. Through these two mediums, I spent my days actively engaged with the international online community, connected to people and places far away from the desk where I sat. Constantly, I was tuned into the developments of remote parts of the world and the evolving tragedies that engulf the daily lives of the people in states such as Burma and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the rest of the online community, I waited with uncertainty to see how the Burmese elections would play out, read the reactions to the event and tried to decipher what the release of Aung San Suu Kyi meant for Burma.
Over the course of this semester, I grew an appreciation for the size of these online networks and their commitment to fighting various injustices. While Burma’s future seems bleak, and the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is like something out of a nightmare with no end in sight, there exists an internet full of concerned people, trying to do what they can to influence the situation. Despite the minimal impact these tragedies in remote parts of the world have on the lives of many people, especially in the United States, concerned individuals and groups are eager to devote time and money to address them.
However, while blogs and twitter accounts are readily dedicated to dispersing information on critical world issues, there is a sense that many people lack the knowledge of where to go from there. News stories make their way around the cyber sphere rapidly, creating the sensation of a world constantly connected. Certainly, an informed populace is good and the first steps toward addressing a problem lay in knowledge, understanding, and recognition, but some sort of plan is needed to take progressive action. In this respect, the Global Justice Center has a significant role to play, arguing for a legal foundation from which significant, lasting change can emerge.
During a staff meeting earlier this semester, we were asked to come up with the unique role the Global Justice Center played in the human rights field. My feelings were, and are, that the Global Justice Center develops innovative strategies to prevent future, large scale offenses. We work to develop the legal foundations that will manifest themselves in real world scenarios to prevent further devastation and significantly decrease the likelihood of the occurrence of this devastation.
Over the course of my time with the GJC, the legal team has been swamped with the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) process, arguing that the USAID foreign assistance abortion speech restrictions are in breech of the nondiscriminatory medical care that is guaranteed for conflict victims under the Geneva Conventions. These restrictions effectively deny abortions to women raped in conflict, and a legal victory could save the lives of thousands of women and girls around the world. A team of less than ten members has the potential to save thousands of lives. That effect is something truly spectacular. Working with the Global Justice Center, even in my small way, was an honor.