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Human Rights Advocates Present Armenia and Kenya Shadow Reports to U.N. Committee

This past July, Laura Matson (’13) and Law School Adjunct Professor Barbara Frey, director of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Program, braved the heat in Geneva to present shadow reports to the 105th session of the U.N. Human Rights Committee. Shadow reports are an integral component of the U.N. treaty body system, supplementing or presenting alternative information to the periodic government reports that States' parties are required to submit under treaties.

Matson and Frey's reports addressed the human rights issues caused by inadequate small arms control in Armenia and Kenya. In preparing the report on Armenia, they collaborated with Hayukuhi Harutyunyan of Armenia and Professor Jennifer Green through the Law School's Human Rights Litigation and International Legal Advocacy Clinic and University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts’ Human Rights Program. Matson also wrote a report on Kenya through the Clinic and the Human Rights Program, presented by Frey.

At the conclusion of their reports, the authors offered recommendations for the governments of Armenia and Kenya, including enforcement of laws already in place through screening, training, planning operations, investigating, and prosecuting violations.

Matson's travel to Geneva was co-funded by the Human Rights Program and the Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship Program, which is run by the University's Human Rights Center and enables students, professionals, and activists with strong ties to the Upper Midwest to engage in work with human rights organizations locally and abroad.

Harutyunyan has strong ties to the Human Rights Center as well. In 2011-12 she received a prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. A practicing lawyer and a member of the Chamber of Advocates in Armenia, she has been studying the mechanisms for public participation in decision-making processes and other features of the U.S. judicial system and hopes to promote democratic change in Armenia.

Each year, the Human Rights Center hosts a cohort of Humphrey Fellows, who are mid-career professionals from developing nations and emerging democracies. The Fellowship Program fosters professional growth, preparation for leadership roles, information exchange, and cultural understanding. The Human Rights Center and the Law School are proud to support human rights work such as that performed by Matson, Harutyunyan, Green, and Frey.

The shadow reports presented to the Human Rights Committee are available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs105.htm.