Washington Week on Human Rights: October 24, 2016

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On Wednesday, October 26 National Security Advisor Susan Rice will deliver an address focused on the Obama Administration’s efforts to protect and expand the human rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world, and highlight the ways this work intersects with important national security concerns. The speech will also address some of the challenges that lie ahead for the next administration. The event will be livestreamed at 3:00 PM EST.

Although recent years have shown significant progress towards inclusion for LGBT people in many parts of the globe, significant obstacles remain. For example, this week Department of State Under Secretary Shannon travels to Central Asia, where a proposed anti-LGBT propaganda bill is set to become law. Protecting LGBT refugees, combating violent hate crime against LGBT people, and opposing bans on homosexuality and other discriminatory laws around the globe should remain a priority for the next administration.

Wednesday’s event will also include introductory remarks from James Goldgeier, Dean of the American University School of International Service; Elisa Massimino, president and CEO of Human Rights First; and Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Combatting Human Trafficking

This morning Secretary of State John Kerry chaired the annual meeting of President Obama’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF). The meeting focused on solidifying progress made under President Obama and continuing momentum into the next administration. It presented a key opportunity for Secretary Kerry to ensure that combating human trafficking remains a priority at the highest levels of decision-making within each agency.

Human trafficking is a lucrative criminal enterprise that generates $150 billion annually in profits worldwide and impacts an estimated 20.9 million victims. The United States should seek to substantially reduce the number of victims by implementing policies and practices such as the steps detailed in Human Rights First’s blueprint “How to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking.”

Celebrate Pro Bono Week

This week we mark the American Bar Association’s “Celebrate Pro Bono Week,” a national celebration of professional services for the public good honors the crucial work of pro bono attorneys, including those who offer their time and expertise to represent refugees seeking asylum.

Legal representation for those fleeing violence, discrimination, and persecution can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Working with Human Rights First’s refugee representation program, attorneys from law firms across the nation last year donated time and services valued at just over $46 million. Human Rights First supports these pro bono lawyers by providing mentoring, training, and guidance throughout the representation.

Last week in New York City, Human Rights First honored the 2016 winners of the Marvin Frankel Award for extraordinary commitment for pro bono legal representation to individuals who fled persecution abroad and then seek asylum in the United States. This year’s recipients were Blank Rome LLP in Washington, D.C., Latham & Watkins LLP in Houston, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York City.

Quote of the Week

“Every time our phones ring, the voice on the other end could belong to a woman or girl enslaved by the Islamic State. It’s difficult to convey what it feels like to hear the agonized voices. Recently, a woman whom we were unable to help begged us to carry her message to anyone in power. She said, “Tell them: ‘If you can’t save us, please bomb us. We can’t bear to live.’”

We hope and pray that the United States and its allies do everything they can to ensure that the liberation of Mosul is the liberation of the Yazidis as well.”

—Ameena Saeed Hasan and Khaleel Aldakhi, recipients of the 2016 Human Rights First Award, in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

We’re Reading

Human Rights First Award Honorees Ameena Saeed Hasan and Khaleel Aldakhi write in The Washington Post that the United States must help free enslaved Yazidi women in Mosul.

TIME and Reuters tell the story of Ameena Saeed Hasan and Khaleel Aldakhi, recipients on the 2016 Human Rights First Award.

The Huffington Post writes about what a private refugee sponsorship system could look like.

The Washington Blade reports on the troubling visit of noted homophobic pastor Scott Lively’s trip to Kyrgyzstan.

The Washington Post reports on the release of Mauritanian prisoner who wrote a Guantanamo memoir.

Around Town

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Middle East Institute will hold a discussion entitled, “Middle East and Regional Transition, Terrorism, and CVE: What the Next President Will Face.” The discussion will feature Deputy Homeland Security Advisor to the President Rand Beers; former National Coordinator for Security of Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, chairman at MEI; Emilian Papadopoulos, president of Good Harbor Security Risk Management; and Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at MEI. 12:00 PM, MEI, Boardman Room, 1761 N Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Freedom House will hold a discussion entitled, “Moving Beyond Emergency Response: Protecting Human Rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) People,” focusing on “how international stakeholders can help local LGBTI movements create long-term strategy to counter anti-LGBTI laws and violence around the world.” The discussion will feature Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality; Monica Tabengwa, executive director of Pan-Africa ILGA; and Robert Herman, vice president for international programs and emergency assistance at Freedom House. 3:30 PM, Freedom House, 1850 M Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C.

The Henry L. Stimson Center and the Center for American Progress (CAP) will hold a discussion entitled, “Coping with the Refugee Crisis and Violent Conflict: Bold ideas for the Next US President and UN Secretary General.” The discussion will feature Former Nigerian Foreign Minister and Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari; Melanie Greenberg, president and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding; Cindy Huang, visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development; William Durch, fellow at Stimson; Hardin Lang, senior fellow at CAP; and Vikram Singh, vice president for national security and international policy at CAP. 4:30 PM, Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, Eighth Floor, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper delivers remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. 1:00 PM, CFR, 58 East 68th Street, New York, New York.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The School of International Service at American University invites you to a special event featuring Ambassador Susan E. Rice, National Security Advisor on Protecting and Promoting LGBTQ Human Rights Around the World. The event is co-sponsored by Human Rights First and Human Rights Campaign. American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Veterans for American Ideals and LBJ Washington Center will hold a film screening of Salam Neighbor and an accompanying discussion between veterans and refugees on U.S. involvement in the World Refugee Crisis. 7:00 PM, The LBJ Washington Center, 100 New York Ave NW, The Greyhound Suited (#290), Washington, D.C.

The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion entitled, “The Root Causes of Conflict in the Middle East and How to Tackle Them.” The discussion will feature Sweden Ministry for Foreign Affairs State Secretary Annika Soder; Paige Alexander, assistant administrator of USAID’s Bureau for the Middle East; Paul Hughes, interim operations chief for the Middle East and Africa at USIP; Michele Dunne, director and senior associate of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Mohamed Younis, senior analyst at Gallup World Poll. 9:00 AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

The McCain Institute for International Leadership will hold a debate entitled, “After the US Election: Time to Re-Engage Russia?” The debate will feature Thomas Graham, managing director for Kissinger Associates; Paul Saunders, executive director for the Center for National Interest; David Kramer, senior director for Human Rights and Democracy at the McCain Institute; Alina Polyakova, deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, and senior fellow of the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council; and former US Permanent Representative to NATO Kurt Volker, executive director of the McCain Institute for International Learning. 6:00 PM, US Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

On the Hill

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues in Conjunction with the Honorable Jim McGovern will hold a briefing entitled, “Toward LGBTQ Non-discrimination and Inclusivity: What We Know and What We Need.” The briefing will feature Dr. Kim A. Case and Dr. Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal. 12:00 PM, Rayburn House Office Building B-369.


Published on October 24, 2016


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