Select Page

Human Rights: Adapting to the Challenges of Our Times is a student-led Symposium aiming to rethink the effective implementation of human rights in an age of increasing populism and nationalism.


The Symposium will create a space for discussion and partnership among activists, policy makers, Harvard students, and academics involved in the struggles of oppressed groups across the world. 

The objectives of the Symposium are to:

  • examine the implementation of human rights frameworks and identify common challenges and opportunities for human rights struggles around the world;

  • suggest effective tactics to protect rights;

  • examine ways in which academic communities can support those whose fundamental rights are at risk.


Symposium Agenda

9:00am – Welcome Address

Douglas Johnson, Lecturer in Public Policy,  Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School

Mia Ozegovic, Chair, Human Rights Professional Interest Council (PIC)


9:15am – Keynote Panel: Human Rights and Global Challenges

Chair | Gessika Innocent, President of the Kennedy School Student Government

Keynote Speaker | Rajesh Sampath, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Justice, Rights, and Social Change, Brandeis University


10:00am – Panel One: Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: Narratives and Implementation

Chair | Gerald L. Neuman, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and Director, Human Rights Program

Discussant | Kathryn Sikkink, Professor of Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Presenter | Leonardo Castilho, Fellow, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School

Presenter | Christine Mungai, Editor, Africapedia and Nieman Fellow 2018

Presenter | Damelya Aitkhozhina, Human Rights Advocate

Presenter | Mukul Saxena, Child Rights Advocate


11:30am – Panel Two: The Rights and Dignity of Refugees and Migrants and the Nationalist Backlash

Chair | Mayuri Anupindi, International Lawyer

Discussant | Deborah Anker, Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and Founder and Director, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic

Presenter | Heyam Alasrar, Project Manager, Care International

Presenter | Eva A. Millona, Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Presenter | Yee Mon Htun, Clinical Instructor, International Human Rights Clinic

Presenter | Vaishali Sharma, Former Refugee Status Determination Officer, UNHCR


1:00pm – Lunch Break | Brown Bag Lunch


2:00pm – Panel Three: Shared Human Rights Challenges: The Treatment of Minorities Across the Globe

Chair | Salma Waheedi, Clinical Instructor, International Human Rights Clinic and Affiliated Scholar, Islamic Legal Studies Program-Law and Social Change

Presenter | Brenda Jones, Communications Director, Rep. John Lewis

Presenter | Brandon Stephens, Director, The United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET) Development

Presenter | Lillka Cuttaree, Director, KIP Leading  Women Programme, Mauritius

Presenter | Andras Kadar, Co-chair Hungarian Helsinki Committee


3:30pm – Coffee Break  


4:00pm – Panel Discussion: Shared Action across Human Rights Issues – Solidarities and Coalitions.

Chair & Discussant | Suraj Yende, Dalit Rights Advocate and  W.E.B DuBois Fellow, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard

Presenter | Khadijah Tribble, Member of the Board of the Directors, United Medical Center, DC

Presenter | Karlene Griffiths Sekou, Founder and Principal of The Dignity Project International and a Core Leader for Black Lives Matter Boston

Presenter | Pedro Pontual, Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of Brazil

Presenter | Charles Prouse, Chairman, The Indigenous Procurement Program , Lendlease

Presenter | Margareta Matache, Roma Rights Activist, Instructor, Harvard Chan School of Public Health


5:30pm – Conclusions

Dena Elkhatib, VP of Diversity and Inclusion, Harvard Kennedy School

5:45pm – Closing Remarks

Bethany Ellis, Human Rights PIC, Harvard Kennedy School


Symposium Website


The Symposium is organized with the support of the Carr Center for Human Rights, the Department for African and African American Studies, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, HKS Office for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Human Rights Professional Interest Council and the Muslim Caucus (student organizations at Harvard Kennedy School), the Kennedy School Student Government, and the South Asia Institute.