20th Anniversary Bernstein Symposium Will Reunite Former Fellows

<p>Vivek Maru ’01, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Namati</p>

On April 12-13, 2018, the Schell Center for International Human Rights will host the annual Bernstein International Human Rights Symposium. Titled “Solidarity: Sustaining the Struggle for Human Rights in a Fractured World,” the conference will take place at Yale Law School and mark the twentieth anniversary of the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights, as well as the tenth anniversary of the Robina Foundation International Human Rights Fellowship. The Symposium is made possible by the generous support of the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School.

To celebrate these special occasions, the 2018 Symposium will feature panels made up of some of the 83 Yale Law School graduates who have worked in 27 countries as Bernstein or Robina Fellows. The fellows have worked at human rights organizations, U.N. agencies, universities, and courts on five continents. They have focused on issues ranging from environmental justice in the Pacific islands, to LGBTQ rights in U.S. public schools, to the rights of refugees and other migrants. Former fellows participating in the Symposium include recent graduates who have just begun their careers and those from the fellowships’ early years who are now veterans of the human rights field.

The panels at the Symposium will focus on human rights and the environment, the ethics and politics of fact-finding, cultural change and human rights, and the role of human rights in challenging heightened nationalism around the world. All of the panelists will offer their own perspectives on the Symposium’s theme—how to sustain the fight for human rights in the face of daunting challenges and how to build solidarity across different movements.

Vivek Maru ’01, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Namati, which trains community legal workers to enforce basic rights and protect local resources, will deliver the keynote. He will speak about Namati’s work and the broader global movement for legal empowerment.

The Symposium will close with remarks from Jeff Prescott ’97, a member of the first class of Bernstein Fellows and the Executive Director of National Security Action, which he and others founded this year to “advanc[e] American global leadership and oppos[e] the reckless policies of the Trump administration that endanger our national security and undermine U.S. strength in the world.” He remains a strategic consultant for the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

Nearly 70 of the 83 former fellows are returning for the event. Jim Silk, Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights and Schell Center Co-Director, reflected, “I started directing the Schell Center in the fall of 1999, just as the first three Bernstein Fellows were finishing their fellowships. In the 19 years since, I’ve seen the Bernstein Fellows and now the Robina Fellows become a community of support and friendship that has enriched the Law School, the lives and work of the individual fellows, and the field of human rights advocacy. That’s a real tribute to those who had the foresight to start these treasured programs.”

The Symposium also celebrates a recent gift by the Robina Foundation, which awarded Yale Law School $13 million to create a Robina Human Rights Initiative Endowment Fund and to establish a Binger Clinical Professorship in Human Rights. Hope Metcalf, Executive Director of the Schell Center added, “The generous donation from the Robina Foundation, which ensures human rights work will always have a place here, demonstrates that the Law School has stepped up its support for human rights in troubled times.”

The full schedule for the Bernstein Symposium is available on the Schell Center’s website. The conference is free and open to the public. No registration is required.