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History and Politics

Inaugural Summer Institute Welcomes Human Rights Experts

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AUP students regularly benefit from immersive experiences in which practitioners and professionals share their expertise, providing valuable context for more theoretical study. At the graduate level, these practical elements expose students to tangible solutions to the global challenges covered in class. For students taking the MA in Diplomacy and International Law (MADIL), human rights abuses are a particularly relevant challenge.

AUP’s new Summer Institute for Human Rights, which launched this year as a capstone project for MADIL and which is also open to students in the MSc in Human Rights and Data Science, brought prominent speakers from the world of human rights – including AUP alumni – into an intimate classroom discussion environment. Experts with diverse specializations covered topics such as religion and human rights, rights-based approaches to digital services, and global plans for eliminating gender-based violence.

Ilka Rodriguez, a MADIL student, commented that the guest lecture series was an enriching academic experience that put students in direct contact with experienced professionals in the field of human rights. “Their input undoubtedly helped us see things from new perspectives and discover the multiple ways in which human rights intertwine with other fields,” she said.

The institute also offers a foundational course in interdisciplinary academic approaches to human rights and two elective courses in emerging applications of human rights theory. A series of documentary film screenings provide contemporary examples of human rights issues, while a team project allows students to work with faculty to develop further practical understanding of theoretical concepts. “Coming up with real-life solutions and encountering challenges along the way gave me a glimpse of what my future career could look like,” said Ilka.

The full list of guest speakers is as follows:

  • Dr. William Schabas, Professor of International Law at Middlesex University in London, who prepared the quinquennia reports on the death penalty to the UN Secretary General in 2020, 2015 and 2010.
  • Boriša Falatar ’00, an AUP alumnus and economist who served for ten years as UNESCO’s Coordinator of Crisis Response.
  • Dr. Ibrahim Salama, a UN diplomat who serves as Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
  • Alex Whiting, Deputy Prosecutor of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in the Hague.
  • Dr. Kim Seelinger, Special Adviser on Sexual Violence in Conflict in the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, The Hague, and Dr. Adia Harvey Wingfield, Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor of Arts and Sciences, for her research on how and why racial and gender inequality persists in professional occupations.
  • Dr. Bronwen Manby, visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics researching the right to nationality, comparative citizenship law and statelessness.
  • Ricki Helfer, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer to the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the first woman to head a US federal bank regulatory agency.
  • Patricia Sellers, Special Legal Consultant to UN Women, to the Gender and Women’s Rights Division of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to Children in Armed Conflict.
  • Alex Phuong Nguyen ’11, AUP alumna and Program Manager at Ulula, previously Management and Program Analyst for UN Secretary General António Guterres.
  • Dr. David Erikson, Senior Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he heads the community development and economic education teams.
  • Charlotta Blomqvist ’17, AUP alumna and Project Officer at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre based at Middlesex University in London.
  • Commissaire en Chef Peggy McGregor, deputy to the head of the French Navy HR policy department at the Ministry of Armed Forces in Paris.
  • Caroline Klaeth Eriksen ’08, AUP alumna, Head of Social Initiatives at Norges Bank Investment Management and former Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman.