Thoughts on human rights

5 Dec

In catching up with readings from my human rights class, I’m identifying some real points of contention between my beliefs and what is being expressed in these articles. I don’t have another forum for expressing these ideas, and I don’t want to prompt an extremely public debate, so I am going to post these ideas here with small descriptions of what they are. My arguments will be fleshed out later.

1) Dealing with amnesty in truth commissions as though it has no implications for gender equity.

In South Africa, the conditions for amnesty included that the crime was committed with a political motive and that the crime was proportional to the achievement of that motive. This had huge implications for women who suffered from sexual violence. In fact, not one individual who applied for amnesty admitted to acts of sexual violence. Not one. Therefore, I reject conversations of amnesty that don’t address how gendered it is in their analysis of whether or not it is necessary, or good, for reconciliation.

2) The following quote from former Secretary of State Vace: “We recognize that the fulfillment of this right will depend, in part, upon the stage of a nation’s economic development.”

Framing our human rights policy in the context of economic development has awful implications for the perpetuation of Western economic imperialism, or neocolonialism. Human rights can be improved upon and even achieved in low-resource communities often with greater effect than Western economic development policies. In fact, studies have shown that policies that aim at human rights directly have a long-term, more sustainable outcome on lifting human rights than those that aim at economic development. In policies that want to indirectly achieve human rights through promoting economic development, standard of living rises a bit, but falls in later years. Additionally, community-driven programs with little fiscal resources work in low-income countries. In Nepal, a Vitamin A supplementation program has achieved vaccination coverage rates of 97% in children aged 6 months to 5 years, and the cost is ridiculously low. This is because the crafters of the programs used local knowledge and social incentives to motivate women to give their time to this cause for free. In exchange, not only did health improve, but women became more respected in their communities. Let’s see a fiscal policy that can do that.


Splitting to Split

26 Jul

I just couldn’t resist the incredibly non-original pun. Split is beautiful, it was our lunner stop on the way to Zadar, and it was beautiful. The ruins were incredible, the food was delicious.  The streets were a bit crowded, but I would love to spend a full day there.



Mostar Highlights

20 Jul

Picture Highlights! There are more on facebook, of course, but these ones are my favorites.

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Mostar and My Resume

20 Jul

It’s getting harder and harder to write for you guys! I know, I’ll be happy I do this later but things are getting so busy. Got back from Mostar on Monday, got two crazy new projects while away so Rachel and I have been working non-stop and tomorrow we go to Croatia!

Cool thing about this work? It’s substantive, I’m learning so much, and the things I get to put on my resume are just ridiculous. For just one project, on my resume there will be this line “Conducted evidence analysis and research in support of Prosecution Team’s closing submissions and final brief in a complex Srebrenica genocide case.”




16 Jul

Alright, I’m writing this from a hostel computer so I can’t add pictures, but I just wanted to let you know a couple of things.


First of all, everything is wonderful. I’ve been busy with work, but the next week is full of weekend trips, so it’ll be incredible. In fact, it is incredible. I’m in Mostar right now and am totally in love.

Pictures are coming soon. Go get a napkin, you will drool and I don’t want you to wreck your keyboard 🙂

Peeking inside the Court

12 Jul

Rachel, Tom, Nikki and I just observed the last day of full court before recess. It took almost 4 hours, and it was incredible to witness. Don’t recognize a couple of the names? Well, here are their bios:

Nikki – She is a freshman (I almost just wrote first year – oh, brandeis) at university in Vienna, who went to school in Bosnia and speaks the language. Her dad works at the Court so she decided to give it a try. She’s working alongside Rachel and I with BCIJ.

Tom – He just graduate from Rice University (Texas – shout out south weeest!!!!) and his school is paying for him to research international courts this summer. He has been living in the Hague for a while and he has been in Bosnia for the last week. He’s thinking about producing a paper from his travels.


So, today Rachel and I split note-taking duties, but we each still have 8-10 hours of work ahead of us in transcribing them by typing. They don’t allow outside electronics into the courtroom. Not allowing outside electronics also means that they don’t allow cameras, but, just for my family and friends, I’m giving you a perfectly beautiful (not really) and accurate (not at all) look into the largest courtroom at BiH.


Tržište: Market

9 Jul

Alright, so first two admin things. 1) Totally curious to know what you all think of the new layout. I like the colors better, but I think it is harder to navigate. Hmm. 2) Sorry I didn’t post and made people (mom) nervous! I was feeling under the weather the past couple of days, so I didn’t have any adventures to post about! I’m starting to feel better though now 🙂

Today, I felt good enough to go on an adventure to the Market (pronunciation guide to follow), but before that I had to get some espresso in me. So, I went to Cordoba Cafe, the cafe that is just outside of BBI, drank a macchiato and loooved it. I especially loved the elder gentleman across and to the right of me who decided to start off his day with gelato! Yep, he had a giant thing of gelato served in what we would consider to be a novelty, 1950’s style ice cream glass. You know, a cone, with the top folding out and some ridges along the whole thing that, when they reach the part that folds out, look kind of like flower petals.

I think this is an instance where I won’t pull the “when in Rome” card.

Now for the super fun stuff: MARKET or Tržište!!!

This farmer's market puts even Portland to shame

Okay, so I’m sure you’re all wondering how in the HELL “Tržište” is pronounced. Here’s what I’ve gathered so far: the two consonants may be together, but put an “eh” between the the “t” and the “r”. Now for the “ž”: it’s actually pronounced like the “s” in treasure. Got it? cool. Now, the “i” is always pronounced like “ee” (as in feet… or italian), and “š” is “sh”. So, phonetically, it is kind of like: tehrzhishte. YAY! You speak Bosnian!

This market is incredible. First of all, it is GIGANTIC. Like, absurdly huge. Secondly, it has everything. At this market, I easily could have bought tomatoes, red bell peppers, a t-shirt, a dress, chicken, a cow’s head, a necklace, and feminine hygiene products. Right? riiight? What I actually bought were: red bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, raspberries, eggs and chicken. It’s also worth noting that I got all that for about 12 km, which is about 9 USD. AMAZING.

On my way back to the apartment, I grabbed a loaf of bread from a small bakery that, if I was in Paris, I would call a boulangerie, but I can’t remember what they are called here.Oh well. Point is, I get a delicious, ridiculously cheap lunch today!

Might be feeling up for the hike tomorrow. It sounds AMAZING…. even if it is going to be 90 degrees!

Also, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite neighbors:

My favorite neighbors!

You can’t see it very clearly in the photo, but in that birds nest are at least two baby birds. Can you make them out? They have little strips of white just below their tiny little beaks 🙂 I never would have seen them except, three days ago, when I was returning home from sushi and starting to feel like I might be getting a cold, I saw the mother feed them. Whenever I see a bit of nature nurture like that, I feel a little blessed.