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Center for Human Rights and International Justice

Upcoming Events

For more Fall 2014 events, please visit our homepage.


Corporations, Individuals, and the Common Good: The Uncertainties of Religious Freedom after the Supreme Hobby Lobby Decision

Friday, October 31
12:30 pm

Hovey House Library, Boston College
New location: Newton Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College

With Cathy Kaveny, the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor at BC, which includes appointments to both the Law School and Theology Department. Part of the Center's Works in Progress colloquium series this fall.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), the Supreme Court held that a closely held for-profit corporation was exempt from a federal requirement to provide coverage for certain types of birth control for its employees, because its owners conscientiously object to covering them and the government has a less restrictive means for making that coverage available. Hobby Lobby raises a host of questions about the nature, scope, and limits of religious freedom in a pluralistic society, including questions about the rights of large for-profit corporations, the religious liberty rights of employees, and the ongoing feasibility of the "less restrictive means" test. This session will outline the Hobby Lobby decision and the challenges it creates.

A light lunch will be served.



The United Nations and the Human Rights Process

Monday, November 10
12:00 pm
Stokes North 203, Boston College

With BC Professor of International Studies, Andrew Tirrell.

In a process that is a compromise between shaming and litigating, the UN Human Rights Council reviews the human rights record of every UN member nation in a four-year periodic cycle. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights. Over the past year, BC students have produced human rights shadow reports covering the nations of Fiji, the Maldives, and Singapore that are drafted to meet the standards of stakeholders' reports in the UPR process. During this presentation, we'll discuss the UPR process in detail, and learn about some of the findings from these student-created reports.

Part of the Center's undergraduate student interest group series.  Co-sponsored by the International Studies program. A light lunch to be served.

Carolyn Forché

A Poet's Journey from El Salvador to 2014: Witness in the Light of Conscience

Wednesday, November 19
7:00 pm
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College

With Prof. Carolyn Forché of Georgetown University. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the slayings of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador. 

To learn more about the martyrs of the UCA, see this section of the Ignatian Advocacy Network's site.

Co-sponsored by the Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights, the Jesuit Institute at Boston College, the English Department, and the Latin American Studies program.

About the presenter:

Poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. The Country between Us was named the 1981 Lamont Poetry Selection and became that most-rare publication: a poetry bestseller. Some of its poems respond to the crisis in El Salvador.  Calling for a new poetry invested in the “social,” Forché’s anthology Against Forgetting presented poets who had written under extreme conditions, including war, exile, and imprisonment. Katha Pollitt remarked that “at their best, Forché’s poems have the immediacy of war correspondence, postcards from the volcano of twentieth-century barbarism.” In 2013 she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, joining the ranks of such acclaimed authors as Robert Frost and e.e. cummings.  She is also working on a memoir, In Another Country, in Another Time, about her years in El Salvador just before the country became fully engulfed in its 12-year civil war.  “I spent some significant time in El Salvador in the late 1970s and finally left in March 1980, one week before the Archbishop [Óscar Romero] was assassinated,” she says.

At the time, Forché was a Guggenheim Fellow translating the works of Central American poet Claribel Alegría. While the latter poet was in exile in Spain for her political writings, Alegría’s relatives invited Forché to El Salvador.

“I became involved in documenting human rights conditions,” she recalls. “It was a period in which the death squads were very active. So there were many harrowing experiences.”

She is Lannan Professor of Poetry, Professor of English, and the Director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.


Tweeting in the Time of Cholera: Networking, Social Media and Justice in Haiti

Friday, November 21
12:30 p.m.
Barat House 1st floor, Boston College Newton campus

With Brian Concannon from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.  Part of the Center's Works in Progress Colloquium Series this fall, an initial presentation from our speaker will be followed by dialogues with attendees on the subject matter.

In 2011, reckless disposal of human waste at a UN peacekeeping base generated a cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed over 9,000 people and sickened over 700,000. The UN has repeatedly recognized an obligation to compensate people injured by UN operations, but refuses to even receive claims by Haiti cholera victims. A broad, loosely connected network has been developed to advocate for a just response to the epidemic, centered around legal claims against the UN. The network includes lawyers, students, cholera victims, scientists, doctors, journalists, members of Congress and even UN insiders, and has managed to exert substantial, if not yet adequate, pressure on the UN. This session will discuss the cholera justice network as a model for social justice advocacy in the 21st century.

A light lunch will be served.