Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights, NYU – Speech Notes – PDF

2015 NYU Speech Notes

NYU Vasuki Nesiah

11–moving to listen

Admire commitment and global south and areas of liberation struggles–Ireland Actual physical courage-Egypt Palestine Israel particularly close to me

And political courage lgbtq rights; (Uganda) so Africa and anc relation to shack dwellers

Your Work Concern with both political and civil rights lgbtq and eco and social rights

Training as lawyers only political and civil and those are sometimes enforceable-eco social cultural    less so or not at all -call laissez faire capitalism-right to speak and vote-bent

Tonight talk a bit on how I look at human rights and my work at ccr

I would not consider myself a human rights lawyer-at least way many use it (used to call us radical progressive) -much more a lawyer for the oppressed and those fighting for better and more equal society;

I see human rights in that context; as a means to lift oppression and fight for what Eduardo Galeano called the nobodies–

Human rights is not as an abstraction to be fought for–slogan–world without torture-great–but violations arise in specific contexts-usually of war and oppression -and need to end those stop human rights violations

A few perspectives-and some lessons learned–nothing easy

  1. first I don’t just look at civil and political rights I look at economic social cultural rights–cld say need eco and social rights to exercise civil and political

-not US thinking-emphasize civil political and legal system enforces those­ but not economic rights–     theory-mills etc—but foolish in a society where money-bends those political rights-an utterly unfair system not one person one vote-one person buy a million votes;

How I looked at CUBA–how I judge a society; how US NY poverty school health care

  1. as I said I see rights in a context of power–oppressed and the oppressor­ and will not represent the oppressor

OT Gaza–Israel–call re missiles–would I take case for people of sderot-yes a violation-and you need to say that and then put in context

but much greater violation is by the oppressor-and it’s the oppression I want to end-it does not end by suing on behalf of the people of sderot-there is no equality there-that’s when an abstraction —

happened with nica

  1. many human rights violations emerge from war, conquest, colonialism, powerif we just focus on the violations-ie Israel stop torturing; or France stop torturing in Algeria during that war; US stop giving funds to Egypt while it repressing dissent (it won’t) or in the past to El Salvador while it is killing and disappearing people-we wont succeed-violations may be ameliorated a bit­ but oppression will continue-and these are geo political decisions

Platos cave shadows substance somewhere else anti-imperialist anti-colonialist

Again lets look at Israel the violations are out of the occupation and are used to crush resistance and steal resources and land: war crimes in gaza; torture in prisons; aid in stealing the water moving people into occupied territories-

yes reveal the consequences-the shadows–fight them-but in the end fight the occupation-and not just  the results of  it–cant really cure them if occupation continues—

Similar I am about to go to western Sahara–familiar–

Serious human rights violation in fact just an indictment moved people in-land–steal resources torture, disappearance yes bring those all out

but see them for what they are consequences of the occupation and that is what must end –

4. Clear–I am not saying don’t bring those horrendous violations out-but don’t forget from where they emerge-

Nica–Brought out horrendous violations by contras—funded by US; did not focus on violations by Sandinistas-but supported their revolution-

(not saying bad-hrw does that-but not get at cause-power, imperialism) Not enough to just say stop the violations—get at cause–stop supporting

  1. Another Important Change happens at the grass roots-from the oppressed-and that is where efforts need to go-and supporting them

CCR founded on that-south of US -(stayed away from congress and de) stop and frisk-lawsuit but coalition

MST; NUMSA-shack dwellers; Israel Palestine; or here at home with CIW low wage movement;

  1. Of critical impt certainly in my work taking on-king called: greatest purveyor of violence against people in the world–causes greatest human rights violations–US-directly or indirectly-been at war since I was a kid or overthrowing govt–Vietnam Central America and lraq-Libya and more; think Iraq-died and society–war and Nuremberg
  2. CCR So what do we do now: here at home-race-fire dept stop ferguson lgbtq Abroad: excesses of empire: torture drones gitmo and war
  1. Despite forces arrayed against human dignity and progress-some cracks in the forces of repression
  2. one part of my work is wl and ja and others-lots to say why impt-secrecy -­ know crimes of govt doing-chelsea manning; surveillance snowden (why impt mst-poster)-battle and  state worried–Emerging peoples movement give hope

South America –years of struggle and oppression-morales chazvez -maduro Kirchner Ecuador

Europe yes right but also anti-austerity and Greece and Podemos

Here-immigrant prisons occupy low wage movment lgbtq

We never know the moment–we fight for what is right and just-not because we think we will win immediately Spanish civil war story–

End on what Julian says

You shouldn’t have a day in your life without pressing for your principles. Every day should be one in which you fight for what is just and right

Having comrades is the most important thing you can do because you can’t work alone and need support

Activism is a joy

Galeano Nyu labor