October News Update: Almost Nothing Has Changed

How have the lives of women and girls surviving conflict situations improved in the last 15 years? As Women’s Rights Leader Julienne Lusenge of the DRC reflected on the international community’s response, “almost  nothing has changed.”

Last week, we also released our comprehensive report, produced in collaboration with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice. The report documents gross inaction to fulfill Burma’s international obligations to ensure gender equality. Women will never enjoy equal rights in Burma without dismantling structural barriers to gender equality. Read “Promises Not Progress: Burma’s National Plan for Women Falls Short of Gender Equality and CEDAW

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August News Update: August 12th Anniversary

When will the US uphold the principles of the Geneva Conventions for women raped in war?

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the United States signing the Geneva Conventions. Yet, due to US policy, women and girls raped in war are still denied their right under international law to all necessary medical care, including access to safe abortions. This includes the women and girls brutally raped and forcibly impregnated by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

This summer, lawyers from the Global Justice Center traveled to Nigeria in support of our new Gender, Genocide and the Responsibility to Rescue project. We learned that many are concerned about the immediate needs of victims of violence—food,  shelter, and medical care—this includes access to abortion services.

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July News Update: Coalition Calls on Obama to Lift Abortion Ban

Today, the Global Justice Center and over 55 human rights, medical, and legal organizations throughout the world, including in conflict countries, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to lift the abortion restrictions on US foreign aid. The abortion ban for women and girls raped in armed conflict violates their rights as guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions and has dangerous, even fatal, consequences.

The clock is ticking. President Obama has less than two months left to respond to the UPR recommendations. The Global Justice Center urges the President to overturn the ban so that U.S. aid will serve its purpose, lives will be saved, and suffering will be alleviated.

Read the joint letter to President Obama here.  

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March News Update: This International Women's Day, Stand Up for Women and Girls

Today is International Women’s Day, and around the world thousands of women and girls are being used as a weapon of war in places like Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Iraq.

GJC is committed to holding groups and states that use rape as a weapon of war accountable. We advocate at the United Nations and governmental levels to ensure the international community fulfills its obligation to find war criminals and bring them to justice. Watch my keynote address at New York University School of Law’s Third Annual Law Women Summit this last month to learn more.

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February News Update: Making Strides in Burma

In collaboration with Fordham Law School’s Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, GJC developed trainings and materials to empower activists in Burma to harness and use international law to achieve gender equality and to enforce human rights.

In January, a team of lawyers from GJC and the Leitner Center traveled to Burma with suitcases filled with resource books, workbooks, fact sheets, and USB drives loaded with original training material. Our training focused on how activists, including long-term GJC partner the Women’s League of Burma which represents 13 ethnic women’s groups, can use international law to challenge violations of human rights in weapon of war by the military and illegal land confiscations by the military. Participants attended from all over the country, including from the areas where the conflict still rages.

Burma is just the beginning. In the future, this model toolkit can be deployed in other conflict or post-conflict countries such as Iraq or Sudan.

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December News Update: 41 Years Later, Helms Still Hurts Women Abroad

Forty-one years ago today, in response to the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that upheld women’s right to choose, Congress enacted the Helms amendment in an effort to restrict US foreign aid from being used to provide safe abortion services. Shamefully, for over four decades, the Helms amendement has resulted in the denial of lifesaving abortions to women and girls brutally raped and forcibly impregnated in war.  

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December News Update: Why Burma Shouldn't Be Anyone's "Destination of the Year"

 

When Travel + Leisure magazine this month declared Burma its “Destination of the Year,” the Global Justice Center spoke with journalist Lauren Wolfe to lift the veil on human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated with impunity in a country deemed to be “on the cusp of great change.”

In Ms. Wolfe’s article published in Foreign Policy, “Come for the Golden Pagodas and Stay for the War Crimes,” GJC Senior Burma Researcher Phyu Phyu Sann spoke about the current environment inside Burma, particularly how the military continues to commit crimes of sexual violence without any fear of prosecution or accountability.

The Global Justice Center is fighting the true democratic reform in Burma. This starts by getting the international community to address Burma’s constitution as a violation of international law and a roadblock to justice for the Burmese people.

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July News Update: International Day of Peace & What it Means for Burma

On July 17th the world celebrated International Justice Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the International Criminal Court.

In honor of this important landmark, the Global Justice Center reaffirms its commitment to enforcing these international human rights laws to create a more just world. In this GJCnews, we share how we are working to use the law to end the impunity of the military in Burma and ensure that the men, women, and children in Burma finally realize justice and peace.

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May News Update: On the Helms Amendment and More

In March we were busy running back and forth to the UN for the 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). In this issue of GJCNews, we want to share with you our staff's stories from those amazing two weeks and introduce you to some of the incredible women leaders we look forward to collaborating with as we continue to use the law to enforce the rights of women around the world.

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July News Update: Human Rights in Iran

 "Human rights is universal - it equally applies to all human beings and it is the collective wisdom of all faiths, religions and peoples." -Shirin Ebadi, San Francisco Jewish Communtiy Center, May 18, 2009

When Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi spoke these words "in conversation" with GJC President Janet Benshoof on May 18th, the packed auditorium at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco broke into applause. It was a historic and profound evening, as these two legal pioneers explored topics ranging from how Iranian feminists in the lead-up to the elections forced candidates to talk about human rights and equality and the important role international law has and must play in enforcing equality and universal human rights.

Much has happened in Iran since this remarkable evening, but the principles that were discussed remain unchanged. The day before the elections in Iran, Dr. Ebadi wrote in a Washington Post editorial that "the true mark of success in Iran will be an election that follows due process...a healthy, functioning and fair legal system is the people's long-term guarantee for greater human rights." As we now know, the Iranian election and the government's response in the following days and weeks regrettably did not follow this ideal.

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July News Update: GJC Updates

In less than three years, the Global Justice Center has dramatically expanded the scope and influence of its programs. This summer we've been on the move and taking our work to a whole new level! We just relocated to a new office that will provide work and research space for our growing staff and allow us to host interns, colleagues and researchers from around the world.

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April News Update: Criminal Accountability in Burma

As we were finishing this month's e-news on criminal accountability in Burma, we were saddened and shocked to hear of the catastrophic cyclone that hit the country this past weekend. The Global Justice Center first wants to extend our deepest sympathy to the people of Burma who have been impacted by the cyclone.

This devastating event has increased immeasurably the suffering of people who were already in dire circumstances and now must struggle to find clean water, food and rebuild their homes and lives. Although information is still coming out, estimates are now reaching 100,000 dead and over a million homeless, making this natural disaster second only to the 2004 tsunami that devastated the region. There are now concerns that the military regime is not permitting international aid agencies full access inside Burma to deliver aid and help the cyclone victims.

Photo: Paul Arps / CC BY 2.0

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February News Update: Why We Need More Women in Government

In commemoration of the 52P ndP Session of the Commission on the Status of Women’s Review Theme: Women’s Equal Participation in Conflict Prevention, Management and Conflict Resolution and in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, we take this opportunity to highlight our work for the women victims of the armed conflict in Colombia.

Last November, we launched the Special Initiative on Gender, Non-Impunity and International Law (SIGNAL) project in Colombia. SIGNAL’s mission is to advance gender parity through the use of international law as well as regional and domestic legal tools as part of a larger discourse and analysis of the Justice and Peace Law of 2005 (JPL) passed in Colombia. The SIGNAL legal team, headed by Special Counsel Zulma Miranda, provides analysis and legal expertise on the ground in Colombia to insure that the JPL and other transitional justice processes are implemented in conformance with international laws requiring gender equality and set standards on gender crimes. Using international legal mandates that address gender issues, such as the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the InterAmerican Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belem do Para”, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Rights of Child, the Torture and Genocide Conventions, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the jurisprudence of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), SIGNAL will facilitate the use of a gender perspective in the changing dialogue on conflict resolution and demobilization processes in Colombia.

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November News Update: Reflecting on SCR 1325

October 31st marked the seventh anniversary of the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. SCR 1325 mandates the inclusion of women in all aspects of decision making in conflict prevention, resolution and reconstruction as well as protection of women in situations of conflict and ending impunity for those crimes. Despite some progress, seven years after its implementation much more is needed to ensure that the requirements set forth in SCR 1325 are fully achieved. The GJC continues to push for greater recognition of SCR 1325 as legally binding and thus a means for enforcement of women’s right to participate in all decision making processes as well as to redress and assure accountability for crimes perpetrated against them. 

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October News Update: The Fight for Justice in Burma Continues

September has obviously been a time of great turmoil, as we dealt with the slow leaks of news, the horrific pictures of atrocity and the deafening silence of the military crackdown in Burma. GJC has the fortune of having a Burmese woman working in our office and during the first few days of the crisis, she was able to speak to some people on the phone in Burma and she read all the Burmese blogs. As the junta cut off cell phones and internet access, her ability to get information from inside Burma was severely, and then totally, curtailed.

Due to our recent trip to Thailand, where GJC staff met with the Burma Lawyer's Council, we are in a position to offer an informed opinion on aspects of this recent crisis. On September 29th, GJC and the BLC issued a joint press release calling for criminal accountability for members of the SPDC cabal. Following the issuance of the press release, on September 28th, GJC president Janet Benshoof was invited to speak on BBC "News 24" during their 8pm program. Additionally, The Nation, South East Asia's English language 'paper of record' printed our press release in full.

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