Human Rights Center Founded at Fletcher

By PON Staffon / News

A new Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution has been established at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, one of PON’s consortium universities. The Center (CHRCR) is directed by Fletcher Professors Eileen F. Babbitt, a PON Associate and Hurst Hannum, a member of PON’s Faculty Seminar. Executive Director of the Center is Ellen L. Lutz, an attorney with over 15 years experience as a nongovernmental human rights advocate. The Center was founded to promote global peace, justice, and human rights by fostering greater understanding and cooperation between human rights advocates and those working to prevent or resolve conflict. It is supported by a generous grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

CHRCR has five main objectives. First, researchers analyze the theoretical and practical approaches used by conflict resolution practitioners and human rights advocates. Second, they are focusing scholarly attention on the relationship between conflict resolution and human rights advocacy during all phases of conflict: before violence breaks out, in the midst of conflict, and after settlement has been reached. Third, they are providing policy analysis for decision makers and scholars that incorporates international law, social science, and the techniques of negotiation and conflict resolution. Fourth, participants will help develop and evaluate interventions by the United Nations and other actors so that they are more likely to lead to lasting peace that includes respect for human rights. Finally, the Center will promote awareness and discussion of these issues by the public through conferences, a speaker series, publications, and other means of outreach.

Initial projects include research on negotiating self-determination, coordinated by Babbitt and Hannum. This work, funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, investigates whether the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity can be reconciled to reduce ethnic and other conflicts. In addition, Fletcher Professor Peter Uvin is investigating Rwanda’s quasi-judicial gacaca system, which aims to bring to account thousands of alleged participants in the 1994 genocide in a manner that serves justice, reconciliation, and reintegration.

Future research will address topics such as:

— What human rights norms should mediators promote, beyond stopping or preventing violence?

— In what ways should human rights advocates take the creation of peace into account when striving for compliance with human rights norms?

— Are there circumstances, such as gross human rights violations perpetuated largely by one party to a conflict, in which it is inappropriate for neutral parties to insert themselves?

— How can the United Nations best coordinate its prevention, conflict resolution, human rights promotion, and peace-building activities?

— How can “Track Two” diplomacy by nongovernmental actors be coordinated with other conflict resolution initiatives?

The Center will offer training for intergovernmental, governmental, and nongovernmental practitioners in negotiation, mediation, human rights monitoring and advocacy, and intervention in complex humanitarian emergencies.

Center faculty members are available for consultation, facilitation, fact finding, and situation assessment for intergovernmental, governmental, and nongovernmental groups and donors. CHRCR’s Directors have consulted on human rights or conflict resolution initiatives in Russia (Tatarstan and Chechnya), the Caucasus, the Middle East, Kashmir, East Timor, Northern Ireland, Turkey, Bosnia, Cyprus, the Horn of Africa, Rwanda, the Philippines, Mexico, Haiti, and the Southern Cone of South America.

Eileen F. Babbitt is Assistant Professor of International Politics and Director of the International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Fletcher. She previously served as Director of Education and Training at the US Institute of Peace, and as Deputy Director of the Program on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She teaches negotiation; mediation; and international intervention for conflict prevention, management, and peace building.

Hurst Hannum is Professor of International Law at Fletcher, where he has taught international human rights law, peacekeeping, international organizations, self-determination, and nationalism. He is the editor of Guide to International Human Rights Practice (3rd ed. 1999) and author of Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights (rev. ed. 1996), and International Human Rights: Problems of Law, Policy, and Process (3rd ed. 1995 with Richard B. Lillich). He has served as a board member of Amnesty International-USA, the International Human Rights Law Group, and the Geneva-based International Service for Human Rights.

Executive Director Ellen L. Lutz has over 15 years of experience as a nongovernmental human rights advocate. She is a trained mediator and arbitrator and has a private dispute resolution practice. Her research and consulting focus on Latin America, the prevention of human rights abuses, and the relationship between accountability responses and the long-term prevention of future abuses or conflict. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at Fletcher, where she has taught international human rights law, international organizations, and international criminal law.

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, founded in 1933, is the oldest graduate school of international affairs in the United States. It educates international relations students at the Master’s and Ph.D. levels, emphasizing multidisciplinary studies that include law, political science, history, economics, and business. The Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution may be contacted at the Fletcher School on the Tufts campus in Medford, Massachusetts, at tel 617-627-4016, fax 617-627-3871, or e-mail chrcr@tufts.edu.