Panel event

Twenty Years of Economic and Social Rights Advocacy

On 4 February 2013 CESR, in collaboration with the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, organized a panel event at New York University’s Faculty of Law to celebrate twenty years of economic and social rights advocacy and to take stock of challenges still facing the human rights movement in making these rights a reality. This event brought together leading figures from the human rights movement to explore key issues, such as whether the normative recognition of economic and social rights has impacted economic and social policy at the national and global levels, and if the argument for the ‘justiciability’ of these rights had been convincingly won. It also asked why economic and social rights are so seldom enforced and whether the tools of human rights had made a tangible difference to the lives of those facing poverty and deprivation. A video recording of the meeting can be viewed above. The discussion begins after a short introductory clip presenting the Center’s achievements and current work. Biographies of the seven panelists, all of whom are well-known human rights defenders who have contributed to CESR’s work over the course of its history, are available below:

Manuel José Cepeda (Colombia)
Jurist, Universidad de los Andes

Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa served as a magistrate on the Constitutional Court of Colombia from 2001 to 2009 and was president of the Court from June 2005 to April 2006. From 1987 to 1990, he served as presidential advisor for legal affairs to Colombian President Virgilio Barco Vargas. From 1990 to 1991, he was advisor to Colombian President César Gaviria Trujillo for the Constituent Assembly of Colombia. From 1993 to 1995, he was Ambassador of Colombia to UNESCO and thereafter to the Helvetic Confederation (1995-1996). He served as Dean of the Universidad de los Andes Law School from 1996 to 2000. The author of several constitutional law books, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Universidad de los Andes in 1986 and received his Master of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1987. In 1993, he received the Order of Boyacá from the President of Colombia.

Chris Jochnick (United States)
Director, Private Sector Engagement, Oxfam America

Chris Jochnick is the director of private sector engagement for the international NGO, Oxfam America, and is a lecturer in business and human rights at Harvard Law School. He has worked for many years in the field of human rights and is co-founder and a director of the Ecuador-based Centro de Derechos Economicos y Sociales (CDES) and the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Social Rights. He also spent five years in the private sector as an attorney for the Wall Street law firm of Paul, Weiss Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He was the editor in chief of the Harvard Human Rights Journal and a MacArthur Foundation research and writing fellow. He has authored many publications on human rights and development.

Irene Khan (Bangladesh)
Director General, International Development Law Organization

Before becoming Director General of the International Development Law Organization, Irene Khan was secretary general of Amnesty International from 2001 to 2009. Previously, she joined the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1980, working in a variety of positions, including senior executive officer to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, head of the UNHCR team in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during the Kosovo crisis in 1999; she was appointed deputy director of International Protection in the same year. Khan studied law at the University of Manchester and Harvard Law School, specializing in public international law and human rights. She has received several awards and academic honours, including the City of Sydney Peace Prize in 2006. She is author of the 2009 book, “The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights.”

Carin Norberg (Sweden)
Former Director, Nordic Africa Institute

Carin Norberg is a board member of the Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies and former director of the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden. From 2002-2005, she was executive director and program manager for global programs at the secretariat of Transparency International, in Berlin. Since 1970, she has held various positions with the Swedish International Development Agency, including director, department for East and West Africa, director, department for humanitarian assistance and co-operation with NGOs, and director, department for democracy and social development. From 1984-87, she was advisor to the UN Commissioner for Namibia at the United Nations headquarters in New York. She holds a degree in political science and economics from Uppsala University.

Alicia Ely Yamin (United States)
Chairperson, CESR;
Director of the Program on the Health Rights of Women and Children at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights; Lecturer, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University.

Alicia Ely Yamin, JD MPH, is Director of the Program on the Health Rights of Women and Children at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. She is also adjunct lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health and associated senior researcher at the Christian Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway. From 2007 to 2011, Yamin was Joseph H. Flom Fellow on Global Health and Human Rights at Harvard Law School. Previously, Yamin was director of research and investigations at Physicians for Human Rights. Yamin has conducted human rights documentation and advocacy with both international and local Latin American organizations for 20 years. In addition to being chairperson of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, she serves on the advisory boards of the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights and the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health, among others. Yamin is also on the editorial review boards of Human Rights Quarterly, Human Rights and the Global Economy, and the Revista Iberoamericana de Derechos Humanos.

Philip Alston (Australia)
Honorary board member, CESR; Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

Philip Alston served as the chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1991-1998). He currently teaches at the New York University Law School. Alston has published extensively on economic, social and cultural rights. He has a LL.B (Hons.), B.Comm. and LL.M. from the University of Melbourne and an LL.M. and JSD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ignacio Saiz
CESR Executive Director

Ignacio Saiz was appointed executive director in 2009, having served as the Center’s research director since 2006. Prior to this, he was director of policy at the international secretariat of Amnesty International, where his responsibilities included overseeing the development of Amnesty’s research, campaigning and advocacy on economic, social and cultural rights. Previous roles at Amnesty International have included deputy director of the Americas Program, policy coordinator and Central America researcher. He has also worked as a freelance human rights consultant for several other organizations in areas relating to sexuality and human rights, the prevention of torture and post-conflict accountability. Ignacio holds an LLM in international human rights law with distinction from the University of Essex and a BA degree in French, Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Cambridge.