Law School Students Participate in UN Session in Geneva
Five students from the Human Rights Litigation and International Advocacy Clinic—Amanda McAllister (’17), Mary Beall (’18), Myounghee (Denise) Choung (’18), Kathryn Marquis Hirsch (’18), and Jonathan Mansker (’18), along with Professor Jennie Green—recently travelled to Geneva to observe and participate in the periodic review of Sri Lanka during the 66th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW was established to respond to mounting concerns regarding widespread discrimination against women by creating a framework that promotes the rights and the complete and equitable inclusion of women in the national and international order. It comprises 23 women’s rights experts from around the world who complete periodic reviews of states and make recommendations to those states concerning the elimination of discrimination against women.
While at CEDAW, the Law School students were able to observe the periodic review of Sri Lanka. After the recent conclusion of a 30-year civil war, which disparately impacted women in the north and east, Sri Lanka is facing a plethora of transitional justice issues. Due to the conflict and its spillover, women, particularly minority women, face serious financial and physical insecurity, often at the hands of government forces. In Geneva, students lobbied CEDAW members to address Sri Lankan women’s concerns of impunity, sexual violence, and the lack of transparent transitional justice mechanisms. Students discussed these issues with members and provided questions for members to pose to the Sri Lankan government. Through this experience, students learned the intricate workings of CEDAW periodic reviews and collaborated with experts from around the world to produce meaningful change in the lives of Sri Lankan women.
The students’ successful advocacy is reflected in the concluding observations of CEDAW’s 66th session, available as a document here.