2014 Human Rights Summit Agenda
Doors Open - Breakfast
Welcome and Opening MessageElisa Massimino President & CEO, Human Rights First
The Honorable Chris Coons
United States Senator from Delaware
NGOs as the Enemy Within?
Human rights defenders face particular challenges when their societies mobilize for war. In such circumstances, questioning government policies is often characterized as disloyalty or siding with the enemy. Human rights defenders become targets of defamation, persecution, and violence. The universal values they are seeking to uphold are themselves called into question and undermined. Does the U.S. government have a role in preserving the rights of activists espousing what may be deeply unpopular points of view in times of public fear and conflict?
The Future of Europe in a Time of Political Extremism
Far-right parties scored electoral gains in a number of European countries this spring, giving them 59 seats in the European Parliament. Acts of antisemitic and xenophobic violence have grabbed headlines across Europe. In Greece and Hungary, openly racist and antisemitic parties continue to amass political power while they foster discrimination and violence. In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front made large gains in both European and local elections. Many far-right parties are courted by Russia, and they in turn have supported Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. Experts from France, Greece, and Hungary will sort out these trends at a time when the United States sorely needs a strong Trans-Atlantic Alliance. How are national governments/societies and the European Union responding? American policymakers are concerned, but how best should they respond? How concerned should U.S. and European leaders be over the ties between Russia and European far-right parties?
Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award Luncheon
Show Them the Money: What are the Lifelines for Civil Society in a Sea of Restrictions?
More and more governments—and not only authoritarian ones—are finding ways to close the space for independent civil society groups, especially those critical of government policies. As part of this effort, governments have developed sophisticated methods to undermine the credibility of international, and especially American, support for local human rights and democracy organizations. Russia and Egypt are leading the way: each has passed laws restricting access by independent civil society groups to foreign funding, which is essential to their existence. How should the U.S. government and other donors respond to these coordinated efforts to restrict human rights and democracy activists? Given the legal landscape, is foreign funding for NGOs even possible anymore?
Margarita Lopez Maya
Back to Baghdad: Next Stop in "The Forever War"?
December marks the end of the 13-year U.S. combat presence in Afghanistan. But with military operations continuing from Pakistan to Somalia, and with the U.S. opening up a new front in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. is still very much at war. Legacies of the last decade's wars, such as the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and disputes over the U.S. use of torture, persist. Extremist groups once aligned closely with Al Qaeda central have morphed into disparate regional entities, and founded new ones. Which, if any, pose actual threats to the United States, what is the best strategy for dealing with them, and where, if anywhere, should the U.S. be "at war"?
Major General Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (Ret.)
The Honorable Tom Malinowski
Progress and Backlash in the Global Struggle for LGBT Equality
Human rights advocates often describe achieving full equality for LGBT people as the next chapter in the struggle for universal human rights. For many years this movement appeared to be one of steady gains, but we are now facing a moment of profound backlash. LGBT citizens of Russia, India, Uganda, and Nigeria have seen a sharp curtailment of their rights. In many cases, this is part of a larger attack on civil society, marked by laws and policies aimed at freedom of expression, freedom of association, and other basic rights. Support for such laws is often driven by anti-Western sentiment. How can the United States respond in ways that will improve the lives of LGBT people?
"Voices of Hope" LGBT Reception
|8:00am||Doors Open - Breakfast|
Welcome and Opening MessageElisa Massimino President & CEO, Human Rights First
Can We Bankrupt the Business of Human Trafficking?
Modern day slavery is a human rights scourge that affects an estimated 21 million people. It's also a hugely profitable—and growing—global business, bringing in $150 billion a year for the exploiters. Business is booming largely because exploiters operate with relative impunity. Many companies have started to focus on ridding their supply chains of slave labor. But there's another supply chain that's relevant here: the many actors that recruit, transport, and house the victims along the way to final sale or exploitation, as well as those who move the money associated with this criminal enterprise. The private sector could play a game-changing role in disrupting this network by making slavery more risky and less profitable. This panel will feature case studies of private sector initiatives—including public-private partnerships—designed to bankrupt the business of trafficking.
Barry M. Koch
Tammy Lee Stanoch
Not Just a Game: Can Sports be a Vehicle to Advance Human Rights?
In September 2014, the International Olympic Committee took an important step by adding an anti-discrimination clause to their host country contracts. These new rules, prompted by the outcry after Russian anti-gay laws cast a long shadow over the 2014 Sochi games, forbid all discrimination, "in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise." Major sporting events garner the attention of the world and have frequently brought to the forefront issues of discrimination, rights abuses, inclusion, and equality. Activists use these events to spotlight vulnerable communities and causes. How can sports advance human rights? What are the responsibilities of those that benefit from these major events—host locations, sponsors, sports governing organizations, and the media—to respect human rights?
Eli A. Wolff
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Luncheon
A Closer Look: The Senate Human Rights Caucus
The Honorable Mark Kirk
The Ideological Struggle between Autocracy and Democracy: Who's Winning?
Earlier this year, an op-ed in the New York Times declared, "The ideological struggle between autocracy and democracy has returned." The article was about the crisis in Ukraine, but a similar struggle is taking place in other parts of the world, including Asia and the Middle East. Authoritarian powers like China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are projecting their influence to oppose the spread of democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, democratically elected governments with authoritarian tendencies, especially those that maintain strong popular support, present a challenge for U.S. policy. How should the United States engage in "the intellectual and normative struggle" against authoritarianism? Can the U.S. government promote democratic pluralism in countries where both the government and a sizeable proportion of the population oppose them? Can technology aid in identifying and carrying out a long-term solution?
Mohammad A. Tabaar
Executive Action: Challenges, Opportunities and Protection of Vulnerable Immigrant Groups
With the President's recent announcement of executive action to provide relief from deportation to several million immigrants, the political battles have reignited. But are there opportunities for bipartisan agreement over the next year? On what key issues? What are the human rights implications of recent announcements? Are there opportunities to re-evaluate and reset some of the harsher approaches to the border, like the detention of mothers and children?
Thomas A. Saenz
War and Peace: Who Decides?
After 9/11, Congress enacted an Authorization for the Use of Military Force empowering the executive branch to go after the perpetrators and planners of that crime, including those who harbored or protected them. Thirteen years later that authorization remains in effect and the current administration has used it for a wide range of military operations—including drone strikes—that many argue go far beyond what Congress intended. In May 2013, President Obama launched a national conversation about the legal basis of counterterrorism operations, cautioning that perpetual war degrades our democracy. The United States continues to engage in military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. What is the appropriate role for Congress in the decision to use force? How should it balance giving the executive branch the authority it needs with the duty to ensure debate and oversight?
Stephen I. Vladeck
General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps
What Can We Learn from the 9/11 Generation?
In a speech delivered on Memorial Day in 1895, Oliver Wendell Holmes captured the sentiments of many veterans of the Civil War when he uttered the words, "We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top." Two generations later the world fought the Great War, and in Flanders Field and the trenches of Europe, millions died pointlessly. World War II veterans remember theirs as the "Good War." In Vietnam, American soldiers fought a war that divided their own country. How does the post-9/11 generation of veterans view their experience? Is America better for having fought these wars?
Maura C. Sullivan