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New England Law Center Organizes Business and Human Rights Meeting in Colombia
Professor Laplante directs the center.
Jillian Carson '17
Jillian Carson '17 

Revised-May 6, 2017: The Center for International Law and Policy collaborated with the world’s leading think tank on business and human rights to organize an expert meeting in Colombia. Professor Lisa Laplante, center director, and Jillian Carson ’17, project assistant to the center’s Business and Human Rights Project, were among those overseeing and presenting at the “Collective Construction of Truth and Reconciliation in Colombia: Understanding the Role of Business” symposium, February 20-21, in Bogota.

The Center for International Law and Policy enables students to join the effort to hold corporations accountable for actions that negatively impact human rights, in part through conducting research in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the symposium co-organizer.

Last year’s peace agreement is allowing Colombia to emerge from a half-century of conflict with the FARC guerrilla group, but the hard work of reconciliation and reintegration remains. The symposium focused on transitional justice topics, including criminal justice, truth gathering, reparations, and institutional reform, in order to recommend ways that the private sector can aid the process. In particular, the symposium sought to explore how a focus on businesses can be brought into the transitional justice process, which is a largely unexplored policy and practice. 

“For the peace process to succeed, it’s vital that businesses are accountable and have avenues for participation,” said Professor Laplante. “The center has worked for the past year with the Institute for Human Rights and Business on its advocacy work in Colombia, and we’re proud to have co-organized and help lead this symposium, which featured experts from Europe, Latin America, and South Africa.”

The center’s contributions to the meeting included preparation of a briefing report on Transitional Justice and Corporate Accountability, which arose out of a request by the Institute for Human Rights and Business to CILP to provide an initial overview of the relationship between the fields of transitional justice and business and human rights. This research was conducted by a team of New England Law students including Carson, Rachel DeCapita ’17, Tequila Bester ’17, Stephanie Naranjo ’18, Laura Rodriguez ’18, Sama Sayej ’18, and Madhanga Wickramasinghe ’17.

In addition, Professor Laplante was the principal author of a conference concept paper, Collective Building of Truth and Reconciliation: The Contributions and Challenges of Private Sector Participation in Colombia’s Transitional Justice Process, to which Carson also contributed.

Briefing Report on Transitional Justice and Corporate Accountability

Concept paper, Collective Building of Truth and Reconciliation: The Contributions and Challenges of Private Sector Participation in Colombia’s Transitional Justice Process

Upcoming Events

The Center for International Law and Policy hosts several events each year, including film screenings, speaker panels, and symposia (see examples below). Many are open to the public as well.

For more information about CILP events, including submitting talk proposals, please contact center director Lisa Laplante.

Past Events

Human Rights Film Screenings

Documentaries help to highlight and bring to life pressing international issues which otherwise often seem remote and abstract. Each fall semester, the law school and CILP organize a film screening to foster dialogue and raise awareness of pressing human rights concerns. These events often include a panel or guest lecture.

2017 

The-Uncondemned-posterThe Uncondemned: Making its first public screening in Boston, this documentary tells the story about the litigation strategy devised by a young group of lawyers working for the International Tribunal for Rwanda to prosecute the crime of rape as a part of an overall charge of genocide—the Akayesu case was the first of its kind. Filmmaker Michele Mitchell then gave remarks and answered questions after the film. Community partners included Komera, Peace is Loud, and the MaranyundoInitiative.

 

the-man-who-mends-women-posterThe Man Who Mends Women: This International Women’s Day film screening featured a documentary about Dr. Denis Mukwege, renowned doctor and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who dedicated his life to repairing the bodies of women who were raped during the 20 years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This event was organized in collaboration with United Nations Association of Greater Boston's Global Women's Circle and Harvard School of Public Health.

2016

price-we-pay-posterThe Price We Pay: This award-winning Canadian documentary revealed how large corporations use tax havens to escape paying taxes. We also featured guest speaker Gillian Caldwell, CEO of Global Witness, one of the organizations that helped to uncover the Panama Papers, which helped to reveal the vast corruption with secret tax havens. The film was screened during an event titled Shady Business: The Offshore Industry of Tax Havens, Shell Companies, and Crime.

2015

First Light: This film provided an overview of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the first such body for Native Americans in the United States. The TRC uncovered the discrimination experienced by the Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine child welfare system. The film’s director, Adam Mazo, and activists featured in the work joined us for a panel discussion after the screening.

2014 

Co-Exist. This film was screened during an event entitled Healing After Genocide: Stories from Rwanda, which was in recognition of the 20 years that had passed since the genocide in Rwanda. The documentary is about the difficult healing process after the genocide. The law school and CILP were fortunate to be able to organize the event in coordination with the NGO Coexist Learning Project. One of the activists featured in the film, Solange Nyirasafari, traveled from Rwanda to join us.

2013 

granito-posterGranito: How to Nail a Dictator. This film provides a captivating tale of how a small international legal team managed to bring former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt to justice. During his brief leadership in the early 1980s, General Ríos Montt orchestrated a brutal government policy that led to the massacre of many Mayan villages. The film is produced by Pamela Yates whose 1983 film When the Mountains Tremble helped inform the world of this horrific tragedy. This film is her latest documentary and narrates how she was approached to be a witness against the General and how her incriminating footage from her earlier film became critical to the litigation strategy.

Guest Speakers and Panels

These events bring practitioners and academics working on important legal issues in international law to share their expertise with the New England Law | Boston community.

2018

Lorianne-Updike-Toler-posterLorianne Updike Toler, “Constitution-Writing at Home and Abroad”: Constitutional legal historian and President of Libertas Constitutional Consulting, Toler shared her years of research studying the process of constitution writing.

 

 

Colombia-Expert-Meeting-posterPanel, “What’s Business Got to Do with It? Peacebuilding in Colombia”: Luis Fernando Angulo, executive director of El Centro Regional de Empresas y Emprendimientos Responsables (CILP’s partner organization in Colombia), and German Zamara, senior research director with CREER, provided an insider’s view of Colombia’s recent peace agreement and how the government has been seeking to involve the private sector in the peace process it spearheaded.

2017

Viviana-PosterViviana Krsticevic, “Assessing the Impact of Human Rights Litigation in the Americas”: Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law, Krsticevic has been a human rights litigator in the Inter-American Human Rights System for over two decades, and CEJIL is one of the leading non-governmental groups to bring cases to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. She shared some of her first-hand accounts of litigating in a regional human rights system while also offering her assessment of the direct impact of this work.

Panel, “Combating Corruption in a New Global Reality”: This panel discussed recent developments in the field of international corruption law. It featured Anthony Mirenda, Partner, Foley Hoag; Michael Granne, Associate, Zuber Lawler & Del Duca; and John Sherman, General Counsel, Shift. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

2016

Zhiyuan Guo: CILP collaborated with Center for Law and Social Responsibility to host this prominent Fulbright scholar and professor at China University of Political Science and Law. This daylong visit included activities for faculty and students and aimed to build our institutional relationship with a major Chinese law school.

Panel, “Human Rights Day: A Poignant Discussion on Female Genital Mutilation”: This panel featured alumna Katie Cintolo and New England Law Professor Dina Haynes, who had recently testified on Beacon Hill about a new bill on FGM.

2015

Hon. Ganna Yudkivska, “The Impact of the European Human Rights System on Democratization in Eastern Europe”: Judge Yudkivska, who sits on the European Court of Human Rights, shared some of the recent developments of the rulings of the international human rights court in Europe. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

Panel, “Human Rights and Corporate Liability: What You Need to Know”: This panel shared useful knowledge regarding the evolving international legal and policy framework that may impact how legal practitioners work with corporations of all sizes. Panelists included John Sherman, general counsel and senior advisor, Shift; Tyler Giannini, clinical professor of law and co-director, Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program and the International Human Rights Clinic; and Amanda Werner, legal and policy fellow, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

Panel, “Justice Defenders: Who Defends Those Who Defend Human Rights?”: This panel highlighted the work of lawyers working to protect and defend human rights advocates. Panelists included Priscila Rodriguez Bribiesca, founder and legal director, Mexican-U.S. NGO Strategic Defense and Communication for Change (SAKBE), and Fergal Gaynor, counsel for victims in an ICC case, Prosecutor v. Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dustin Lewis, “Anti-Corruption and Counterterrorism Measures: An Overview for NGOs and Corporations Operating in Insecure Environments”: Lewis, a senior researcher at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, explored the issues and concerns that arise for NGOs and corporations operating in armed conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies such as what due diligence and risk mitigation would entail for organizations working in relation to Syria or Somalia. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

2014

Panel, “Terrorism and the Material Support Statute: A Panel Discussion on the First Circuit’s Decision in United States v. Mehanna and Related Issues”: The panel explored the various issues and debates stemming from the First Circuit’s decision in November 2013 in which the Court affirmed the conviction of Tarek Mehanna, a 30-year old pharmacist from Sudbury, Massachusetts, for material support for terrorism. Panelists included Professor Andrew March, Yale Law School; Professor Peter Margulies, Roger Williams School of Law; and Sabin Willett, Bingham McCutchen LLP. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

Panel, “International Disability Law: Opening Doors for Access and Inclusion”: This event featured both out of state and local speakers discussing the effectiveness of international conventions regulating disability law, and identify the next steps in addressing the needs of the international disabled population. Speakers included Daniela Caruso, Professor of Law, Boston University; Eric Mathews, Advocacy Associate, Disability Rights International; and Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Fund & Disability Rights Fund.

2013

Julia Rogers, “One Seed at a Time: The United Nations, Food Security, and Development”: As a legal consultant with the United Nations and other international organizations, Ms. Rogers advises developing countries on legislative reforms to strengthen their agriculture sector and promote food security. Her work has taken her to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, East Timor, Angola, and Tanzania to hold in-depth dialogues with key stakeholders–from government officials to farmers associations. She provided her personal reflections on the challenges of engaging in legal work to support countries on the path to development.