Amy Tan and Luca Urech
In the fall of 2013, The Fletcher Human Rights Project (HRP)—the student organization devoted to human rights—launched the Human Rights Practicum, an initiative that connects current Fletcher students with international partners on substantive human rights projects. We hatched the idea over conversations stretching from Medford to the Hague and Tunis last summer, after our first year at Fletcher, and now serve as Co-Presidents of HRP. We both worked on human rights issues prior to starting our degrees at Fletcher and believed that Fletcher offers a wellspring of untapped potential for tangible human rights impact, especially considering our student body’s wealth of expertise and our faculty’s expansive networks in the field of human rights.
Fortunately we were right. Upon returning to Medford and presenting our ideas, we were met with enthusiasm from the faculty, administration, and student body. With the support of Professors Hurst Hannum and John Cerone, two partner organizations were identified with whom six students began pilot projects during the fall 2013 term: (1) a project analyzing the Universal Periodic Review reports of the UN Human Rights Council, in cooperation with the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues; and (2) a project on responsibility to protect in Syria in cooperation with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
These projects continued into the spring, and on the basis of their success we doubled the number of participants and added three additional projects through the generous support of Professors John Cerone and Louis Aucoin. The projects include a study on the status of the CEDAW convention under customary international law, work on an amicus brief for a case pending before the CEDAW Committee, and a project in the field of transitional justice.
We look forward to supporting the Human Rights Practicum this semester and learning about the fantastic work that the student participants are doing on live human rights issues. The momentum growing around experiential learning is palpable not just at Fletcher, but also at similar institutions of higher learning that emphasize collaboration and active citizenship. In this spirit, we hope the Practicum is here to stay as a natural extension of Fletcher’s mission to inspire practitioners of consequence.
Student participants of the Human Rights Practicum include Deborshi Barat (MALD 2015), Ilana Blum (MALD 2014), Andra Bosneag (MALD 2014), Julia Brooks (MALD 2014), Aline Cardenas (LLM 2014), Sarah Collman (MALD 2015), Marlene Houngbedji (LLM 2014), Deepti Jayakrishnan (MALD 2015), Kathryn Joyce (MALD 2015), Meghana Kumar (MALD 2014), Roxana Mullafiroze (MALD 2015), Rachel Rosenberg (MALD 2015), Lauren Spink (MALD 2015), and Nanako Tamaru (JD/MALD 2014).