Justice in Geneva: Students Fight for Human Rights at UN Gathering

20180718 UN Human Rights Council
L-R: Sarah Khanghahi, Professor E. Tendayi Achiume, Sarah Rahimi and Kristi Ueda

Two students from UCLA School of Law's International Human Rights Clinic and a fellow at UCLA Law's Promise Institute for Human Rights attended the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in July in Geneva, Switzerland, supporting the work of Professor E. Tendayi Achiume in her role as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

20180718 UN Human Rights Council Achiume

E. Tendayi Achiume

Achiume presented two reports to the Human Rights Council that members of the clinic assisted in drafting. One addressed citizenship-based discrimination noting that human rights violations of indigenous people, minorities and non-citizens are on the rise, spurred on economic anxieties and national security concerns. Another addressed the rise in glorification of neo-Nazism.

In addition to helping prepare the reports, students Sarah Rahimi and Kristi Ueda, members of the UCLA Law Class of 2019, and Sarah Khanghahi, the Promise Institute for Human Rights Fellow at UCLA Law, also participated in a dialogue with the Human Rights Council on the findings of the reports, helped draft an amicus brief request for the European Court for Human Rights, and prepared and edited statements of the Special Rapporteur.

They had the opportunity to meet and consult with leaders of non-profit and non-governmental organizations from countries including Australia, Italy, Sweden, and the UK, as well as organizations working on the UN's International Decade for People of African Descent.

"My time in Geneva made clear to me how much important, difficult, and absolutely necessary work is being done around the world to combat racial discrimination, and how much our work as students, members of the International Human Rights Clinic, and future attorneys can help shape that work," said Rahimi.

Added Ueda: "It was eye-opening to witness how our research and work products were incorporated into the Special Rapporteur's official reports and then presented to and addressed by the Human Rights Council. Attending meetings with country representatives and others offered me insight into high-level negotiations, the complexities of international law and diplomacy, and the vital role that lawyers play in crafting decisions that affect people around the world."