Statement of Educators within Law School Human Rights Clinics, Centers, and Institutes

We are law school educators who teach in clinics and operate centers and institutes that work with and on behalf of individuals, organizations, and communities to promote human rights. We believe in the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. We are deeply concerned that the recent rhetoric and actions of many leaders in the United States government are harming people and damaging decades of effort and progress in promoting respect for human rights.

The United States was actively involved in creating the United Nations, which was founded to prevent human rights atrocities like the ones committed prior to and during World War II. The United States government has signed and ratified human rights treaties that, among other things, require it to protect individuals’ rights to be treated with dignity, to be free from discrimination and violence, and to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.  

We are deeply troubled by the recent executive policy changes and other actions of the United States government that undermine its human rights obligations and commitments, among other things, to ensure the right to equality and non-discrimination for all individuals, including religious minorities, immigrants, women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, and members of other marginalized and vulnerable groups; to provide safe harbor to refugees fleeing armed conflict and persecution; and to protect the freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of association.  As teachers, we also fear for the security of our non-citizen students, particularly those who are undocumented and DACA permit holders and those who are from countries affected by the administration’s executive orders and other actions.

We are deeply troubled by the United States government’s stance towards its international engagement and obligations, including its threats to abandon climate change agreements, threats to withdraw funding from the United Nations, and failure to send representatives to important international proceedings, such as hearings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

We make the following commitments and calls to action in our personal capacities: 

1.         We commit ourselves to promoting the values that inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights and obligations set forth in international human rights treaties.

2.         We commit to stand in solidarity with and defend our students and those within our community whose rights are under threat from the United States government.

3.         We recognize the strength and leadership of the clients, partners, and communities with which we work and commit ourselves to working in partnership with them to protect and promote their rights and the rights of all whose safety and well-being are in peril.

4.         We commit ourselves to holding the United States federal, state, and local governments accountable to their human rights obligations and commitments. 

5.         We call upon our academic communities to stand alongside and engage with community groups and organizations to protect people whose rights are under siege.

6.         We call upon our universities to protect our students, to support clinical programs and centers, including those that promote human rights, and to recognize the vital role those programs play in protecting the rights of those who are most vulnerable and in training the next generation of lawyers to promote social justice.

7.         We call upon professional organizations that we are members of, including the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, to protect academic freedom and to continue to work collaboratively with the legal profession to promote social justice.

8.         We call upon the United States, including federal, state, and local governments, to uphold its human rights obligations and commitments.  

9.         We call on the United States to continue its financial and political support for the United Nations, the Inter-American human rights system, and other organizations that play an important role in the promotion of human rights globally.

10.       We encourage foreign countries, inter-governmental organizations and civil society groups to continue to pressure the United States to uphold its international human rights obligations and commitments.

The undersigned are law school educators who teach in clinics and operate centers and institutes and also individuals, organizations, and communities that support this statement.

 

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