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The Center for International Law and Policy (CILP) is launching a Transitional Justice in the USA Speakers Series in collaboration with other institutions of higher learning, academic centers and civil society groups.

The series aims to raise national awareness of Transitional Justice (TJ) initiatives being developed now on a regular basis across the country in order to address racial injustice. It will offer a sustained forum that encourages an open dialogue about the benefits, accomplishments as well as challenges experienced by these initiatives. Ultimately the series aims to contribute to the growing national movement to seek redress for racial injustice in the USA.

Join Us for the Series

Part III (2022- 2023)

PANEL 1: IS TENDING TO THE MENTAL HEALTH OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AS GOOD FOR THE CAUSE AS IT IS FOR THE CRUSADER?
Thursday, October 13, 2022,12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
Register.

This panel explores the importance of focusing on mental health strategies to build resilience of human rights defenders engaged in racial justice work in the U.S. and assure the vitality and success of social transformation movements. More often transitional justice processes take a backward-looking focus on how to heal the trauma of survivors but overlook the need to tend to the mental well-being of the survivor-activists seeking justice. This oversight leads to burn-out, depression and other mental health challenges that weaken the crusade for truth, reparations and justice. Drawing from national and international experiences, the speakers will share the wide range of community-driven strategies used to support and build resilience of local human rights defenders.

Co-organizers: Center for International Law and Policy at New England Law | Boston,  International Center for MultiGenerational Legacies of Trauma, and Mindbridge. 

MODERATOR:

Laura Ligouri - Founder and Executive Director of Mindbridge

SPEAKERS:

Teiahsha Bankhead - Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth

Donivan Brown - Founder and Director of the Horton-Keller Center for Traumatic Healing

Yael Danieli - Founder and Director at International Center for Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma

Sheryl Davis - Human Rights Commissioner for San Francisco

SPEAKER BIOS:

Teiahsha Bankhead, Ph.D., LCSW is the Executive Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY). She is a social justice activist, a restorative justice advocate, a licensed psychotherapist and a professor with MSW and Ph.D. degrees in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. Teiahsha leads RJOYs Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation initiative and works at the intersection of mental health and restorative justice. Born to a Black radical mother during the Watts Rebellion and coming of age in South Central Los Angeles during the civil rights and Black power era ignited within Dr. Bankhead a passionate commitment to social justice advocacy and transformative community empowerment. She is also committed to racial justice, racial healing and restorative economics. She has taught racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity, theories of criminal behavior, and US social policy at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She speaks and holds circle on the subjects of School-Based Restorative Justice, Race and Restorative Justice, the Indigenous Roots of Restorative Justice, Mental Health and Restorative Justice, Social Justice and Restorative Justice, Truth-Telling and Racial Healing, Youth-Led and Movement-Based Restorative Justice, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Mass Incarceration, and Restorative Cities.

Donivan Brown, is Founder and Director of the Horton-Keller Center for Traumatic Healing. Brown began his work in racial healing in 1996 as a freshman in college. He is now a speaker, consultant, organizer, equity trainer, moderator and facilitator. He's from Chattanooga, TN, and has also lived in Chicago, Illinois, Gastonia, North Carolina, and Killeen, Texas. He is the Executive Director of the Horton-Keller Center for Traumatic Healing in east Chattanooga, and a co-facilitator with ARCC. He’s also Chair of the Ed Johnson Project, a member of the African American Cemetery Preservation Fund and a volunteer work organizer at Pleasant Garden Cemetery.

Dr. Yael Danieli, a clinical psychologist, victimologist, pioneer traumatologist founded the International Center for the Study, Treatment and Prevention of Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma (ICMGLT).  She is the Founder/Director of the Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children since the mid1970s, and has published, consulted, and worked worldwide, including in South Africa, Rwanda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, on life-long and multigenerational post-trauma adaptation, optimal care and training for working with massively traumatized victim/survivor populations, and expert on reparative justice. The Danieli Inventory for Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma allows scientifically valid assessment and comparative international study. She participated in creating all international instruments on behalf on victims’ rights and optimal care. In 2008 she was appointed Advisor on Victims of Terrorism for the office of the UN Secretary-General. See www.dryaeldanieli.com

Sheryl Evans Davis is Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, appointed by Mayor Edwin Lee in 2016.  Davis is a passionate advocate for equity, access, and educational opportunity for all.  Davis has led efforts to center community voice and prioritize equity in addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, including coordinating the allocations process of $120 million in grant monies to support the Black community in San Francisco. Since 2019, Davis has worked to build out an equity framework with San Francisco community stakeholders and City departments, and worked to launch the citywide Office of Racial Equity, an initiative housed within the SFHRC. Davis also oversees the Equity Studies Task Force, the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, the Dream Keeper Initiative, and the Close Juvenile Hall Working Group, among other programs housed within the Human Rights Commission. Programs and initiatives she established previously include Black to the Future, Everybody Reads, and Opportunities for All, among others.Davis was founding Director of Mo’MAGIC, a program of the S.F. Public Defender’s office in service of children, youth, and community in San Francisco’s Fillmore District. Davis has also served on the SFPD Fair & Impartial Policing and Community Policing Advisory Committees, the Fillmore Community Benefits District, and the Redevelopment Agency's Western Addition Citizen Advisory Committee. She holds a BA from San Francisco State University, an MPA from the University of San Francisco, and an EdD from the USC Rossier School of Education. Davis was awarded an honorary doctorate by USF in 2019. Sheryl Evans Davis website: https://sherylevansdavis.org/

Laura Ligouri is the Executive Director and Founder of Mindbridge (www.mindbridgecenter.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the impact of human rights work by integrating psychological and neurobiological applied science. Her interest in the intersection of neuroscience and human rights emerged while at the Saxelab Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at MIT, where neurobiological research often sought to understand the biological underpinnings of implicit bias, inter-ethnic social conflict, violence, and conversely collective empowerment and change. Ligouri’s interests lie at the intersection of how neurobiological processes, culture and societal influences converge to give rise to and perpetuate bias, discrimination, and violence within among groups. Today she is working to bridge social and clinical psychology in service to social justice and human rights efforts. Ligouri is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology at Fielding Graduate University. 

Past Panels

Part I (2020-2021)

PANEL 1 (INAUGURAL PANEL) - COMPARATIVE LESSONS: WHAT IS TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE AND HOW HAS IT WORKED IN OTHER COUNTRIES?

Our inaugural panel, held on Tuesday, February 23rd, launched our ongoing TJ in the USA Speakers Series. This event started the conversation surrounding if and how the TJ model might work in the United States, and whether or not international experiences should be relevant to local U.S. initiatives calling for truth, reparations and justice.   

Featuring:

Sally Avery Bermanzohn - Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College, CUNY & participant in the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Igor Cvetkovski - Senior Advisor on Reparations to the Global Survivors Fund
Eduardo Gonzalez - Research Affiliate, Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation, former member of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Pablo de Greiff - Director of the Transitional Justice Program and the Prevention Project at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law & Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence
Sarah Kasande - Head of Office, International Center for Transitional Justice in Uganda
Yasmin Sooka – Former member of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission & Sierra Leone

WATCH THE RECORDING

 

 

PANEL 2 - HOW DO WE BUILD COLLABORATIVE MODELS FOR A TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE PROCESS?

This panel explores how human rights and academic institutions, and their affiliates, can best support an existing grassroots network of racial justice advocates working on themes related to Transitional Justice in the United States in ways that do not replicate the same predominant power structures these movements seek to dismantle. 

Moderator:

Ashley Quarcoo - Senior Fellow, Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace & Visiting Fellow, SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins

Panelists:

Dr. David Ragland - Co-founder & Co-Executive Director of the Truth Telling Project and the Director of the Grassroots Reparations Campaign
Jodie Geddes - Healing Circles Manager, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) and Co-manager, Coming to the Table
Professor Jennifer Llewellyn - Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law, Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, Canada
Christine Diindiisi McCleave - Chief Executive Officer, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

WATCH THE RECORDING

 

Part II (2021-2022)

Panel 1 - How do we honor indigenous ways of knowing in the quest for truth, justice and healing for American Indian boarding schools?

This panel will focus on past and recent truth initiatives on the forced assimilation of Native children through boarding schools and the child welfare system.  Indigenous leaders will reflect on the experience of the Maine Wabanaki-Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Federal bill to create a national truth commission and the official investigations launched by the Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland this past summer, upon the revelation of mass graves located at boarding schools. The panel will explore how to open the way to transformative justice, overcoming standardized or colonized transitional justice models. The panel is convened in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.

Moderator/Discussant:

Professor Cheryl Suzack (Batchewana First Nations), Associate Professor at the Department of English and Aboriginal Studies Program, Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto

Panelists:

Christine Diindiisi McCleaveChief Executive Officer, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Sandy White Hawkformer Commissioner for the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission & founder and Director of First Nations Repatriation (FNRI)

Brenda Gunn, Academic and Research Director from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada and Professor, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law

 

Panel 2 - Does Criminal Punishment of Police Contribute or Distract from Societal Reckonings with Racism?

While many celebrated Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd as a sign of progress, others worried that it would distract from the systemic change needed to combat racism in policing and put the focus instead on a few “bad apples.” Such considerations about criminal punishment are familiar to transitional justice scholars and activists who have long debated the appropriate aim and reach of criminal accountability in transitioning societies. On one hand, some have argued there is a duty to prosecute all involved in mass atrocity, while on the other hand critics have been concerned that criminal punishment reinforces an individualized and decontextualized understanding of harms and diminishes the likelihood of more profound transformation.

This panel will contextualize these debates by centering the role of police accountability in the much needed racial reckoning in the United States and discussing both the potential benefits and limitations of prosecuting police for racial violence. In particular, the panel will explore whether criminal accountability has lived up to its promise in other transitioning contexts and what lessons we can learn from those examples that might be applicable in the United States.

Moderator: 

Rachel Lopez - Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Panelists:

Roxanna Altholz - Clinical Professor of Law and Co-Director, International Human Rights Law Clinic, Berkeley Law School
Nikki Grant - Policy Director and Co-Founder, Amistad Law Project
Darryl Heller - Director of the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Indiana University South Bend
Helen Mack Chang - President and Founder, Myrna Mack Foundation 

Co-organized by the Center for International Law and Policy at New England Law | Boston, the International Human Rights Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law.

Watch the Recording

 

Series Co-Sponsors

  • Association of American Law Schools
  • Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, William & Mary Law School
  • Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College Law School
  • Center for Justice, Law, and Societies, University of Massachusetts/Amherst
  • Center for Mexican Studies, UMASS/Boston
  • Center for Racial Justice and Criminal Justice Reform, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law
  • Civil Rights Heritage Center, Indiana University South Bend
  • College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University
  • College of Public Affairs, University of Baltimore
  • Drexel's Kline School of Law
  • Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • Human Rights Center, Minnesota Law School
  • Human Rights Institute, Georgetown Law
  • Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut
  • Human Rights Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Institute for Human Rights, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • International and Comparative Law Program, Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • International Center for MultiGenerational Legacies of Trauma
  • International Center for Transitional Justice
  • International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
  • John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice and Race, George Mason University
  • Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation, George Mason University
  • Maryland Lynching Memorial Project
  • Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies program, Kean University
  • Memria.org
  • Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley
  • Moody School of Communication, University of Texas at Austin
  • National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
  • Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA Law
  • Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University
  • School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University 
  • Seattle University School of Law
  • Tanner Humanities Center, The University of Utah
  • The Center for Dispute Resolution, Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • The Pearson Institute, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
  • Transitional Justice-Rule of Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law
  • University of Illinois College of Law
  • War Crimes Research Office, American University Washington College of Law
  • Young Initiative on the Global Political Economy, Occidental College
TJITUSA Logo's 3-2-21
*This series is being co-sponsored by other academic institutions as well as civil society organizations. To become a co-sponsor, contact llaplante@nesl.edu.*

Additional Background

Demands for justice reverberate across the nation at an unprecedented level and only grow upon each new revelation of the extra-judicial killing of a person of color at the hands of both police and private citizens. Less highly profiled are the everyday acts of racism, many of them also violent, that point towards a systemic problem and require a national reckoning to address the deep roots of racism in the United States. 

Every day we hear increasing demands from affected communities, activists and thought leaders for criminal trials, truth commissions and reparations--all of which are approaches commonly associated with what has come to be known globally as the field of Transitional Justice. Transitional Justice describes the efforts of countless nations that sought ways to account for past episodes of systematic and generalized human rights violations perpetuated or tolerated by governments. For example, the government of South Africa established the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996 to address the serious harms caused by apartheid and in doing so brought global attention to alternative approaches to justice. 

Remarkably, the United States has never engaged deeply with the Transitional Justice approach to redress its history of racial injustice. Instead, there have only been a handful of initiatives, including The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up in 2000 to reveal the truth about the murder of labor organizers by the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party in 1979; the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in 2013 to delve into the state practice of separating Native American families. There has also been a robust and dedicated grassroots effort to pursue truth, reparations and justice that until now has not garnered the national attention it deserves. 

Yet, now, for first time in U.S. history, there is a unique window of opportunity as the movement grows and is creating official truth, reparation and justice initiatives across the country at all levels: town, city, state and federal. While celebrating these advances, this series recognizes that there are still many unanswered questions about how these types of alternative justice approaches will and can work in the U.S.

 

The series aims to reaches a diverse audience:

• Students at academic institutions interested in learning more about not only TJ but also local racial justice initiatives in the US;

• Scholars of all disciplines already immersed or simply interested in exploring how, if at all, the TJ framework applies to the US and how the local grassroots efforts of the U.S. brings new questions, insights and challenges to the field;

• Racial justice practitioners and advocates immersed in racial justice work who seek to learn from the experiences of not only other countries but also other locations in the United States working on these issues.

 

The Transitional Justice in the USA Speakers Series' primary objectives are:

• To help raise awareness of Transitional Justice initiatives across the country seeking redress for racial injustice;

• To offer an ongoing forum for encouraging dialogue about the benefits and challenges to the Transitional Justice approach as it might be applied to the U.S. context;

• To encourage the sharing of experiences to increase our collective knowledge about themes related to Transitional Justice, such as truth, reparations, and a range of justice such as reparative, restorative and transformative.

 

The series will be organized in parts to offer panels to address a wide variety of themes that will be multi-year.  The first round of discussions will focus on the general theme of the transitional justice framework and comparative international experiences and how they may, or may not, be applicable to the United States.  Additionally, the start of the series will set a foundation of discussing what collaborative models in this work could and should look like.  

It will continue by profiling recent initiatives to create local truth-seeking initiatives while also learning from some past experiences. Future discussions will examine themes like initiatives at the state and federal level, reparations, institutional reform, criminal justice and other relevant topics to the question of transitional justice in the United States. When possible, panels will be followed by moderated discussion groups to open up a dialogue about particular themes. We hope that afterwards we're able to make a summary of these conversations made available publicly, although observing Chatham House Rules.