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Justice Forum Highlights Students’ Work at U.N.

June 02, 2011

At a recent USF School of Law Justice Forum, eight students shared stories of their participation in meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York City and the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The students learned that with thorough preparation and flexibility they are set to be excellent advocates on whatever project they undertake,” said Professor Connie de la Vega, who accompanied the students to Geneva. “They were successful in their goals of educating delegates and other NGOs about human rights issues and in getting language that will promote human rights into outcome documents.”

At the conventions, students spoke with delegates from different countries regarding their topics of interest. One student said that the response from other delegates was often surprising—those she thought they could count on weren’t necessarily interested in their resolutions and other countries provided unexpected support. Students also spoke of the impact they had at the meetings. “I felt like I really had a hand in lawmaking,” said Hillary Amster 3L who spoke about her proposal on the U.N. floor.

The participants, who represented the non-governmental organization Human Rights Advocates, included Amster, Ann Kariuki 3L, Elizabeth Léone 3L, Lisa D'Annunzio 3L, Peter Micek 3L, Justin White 3L, Dana Marie Isaac 3L, and Zahra Shakur Jamal 3L. Kariuki and Léone traveled to New York City as Edith Coliver Interns. The remaining students attended the U.N. Human Rights Council meetings as Frank C. Newman Interns. Their areas of focus included trafficking of women and children, labor and sex exploitation, the death row phenomenon, the right to vote, prison privatization, violence against children, juvenile justice, and the right to food.