A Glorious Thing Made Up of Stardust

January 26, 2016. A few days before his 27th birthday, Rohith Vemula hanged himself in the venue where he and other Dalit student activists gathered for their meetings and discussions.  A second-year PhD student in life sciences at the prestigious Hyderabad Central University (among India’s top 10), Vemula wrote in his suicide letter: “I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster.…

Roma Education Fund Celebrates Ten Years

Center instructor and prominent Roma rights advocate Margareta Matache is featured in a short video documentary on the work of the Roma Education Fund, of which she is a Board member. Since 2005 – the beginning of Europe’s Decade of Roma Inclusion – the REF has worked to close the educational gap between Roma and non-Roma children across the European Union. In addition to Matache, the video features George Soros…

2016 Global School Applications

Applications for the Global School on Health Rights Litigation (June 13-17, 2016) are now being accepted. This year Harvard FXB has partnered with the prestigious O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, which will hold the one-week intensive course. Application deadline: April 1, 2016. Visit the website for application details.

When Water Is Safer Than Land

by Jacqueline Bhabha The jubilation that accompanied the flowering of the Arab Spring is long gone as its deadly aftermath—in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere—spirals into transcontinental turmoil. We face the prospect of a grim winter. Hundreds of thousands of desperate people in flight from those indiscriminate civil wars (not to mention the chaos in Iraq and Yemen, the turmoil in parts of Africa, and the ethnic oppression in Myanmar) face…

India Partition Project

Center director Jennifer Leaning is leading a study into the humanitarian dimensions of what is still the largest recorded instance of forced migration, the 1947 partition of British India. In December, Leaning traveled to Lahore and Karachi to forge collaborations with university colleagues in both cities to pursue archival research on the Pakistani humanitarian response to the several million who entered Pakistan during those years. The project, housed at Harvard’s…

Reflections on Harvard’s National ID Conference 2015

by Justin Hughes “…we still remain far less cynical about the motives of the private sector than we do our (usually) elected officials.” I recently had the privilege of attending the National ID Conference at Harvard University. Over the course of a packed few days, we heard from an array of exceptional speakers, had many interesting discussions and were kept (mostly!) on schedule by an excellent set of moderators and…

Integrated Education in Europe: Privilege or Right?

by Margareta Matache “A worldwide recognized right has progressively been recast into something those with only privileged status can enjoy.” “I am proud that my son is graduating from high school this year. There are few Roma children in our community who finish high school. If my boy had had an education where he was separated from other (non-Roma) children, he would no longer be in school now, he would…

Investing in Children at the Margins

On November 3 Center instructor and Roma rights specialist Magareta Matache spoke at an Institute of Medicine  convening, the Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally. On the panel Reaching and Investing in Children at the Margins, Matache spoke on ethnic and linguistic diversity among young Roma children in Europe.    

Benefits, Concerns Around National ID Systems

by Amy Roeder This article originally appeared on the website of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. November 24, 2015. Across the globe, legal identification is required for essential tasks such as opening a bank account, accessing government assistance, and registering for school. But around a third of the world’s population — 2.4 billion people — lack an official ID. While some countries are now grappling with the challenges…

Modern Slavery and Public Health

By Krista Oehlke It has been estimated that 80 million people – millions of them children – are enslaved, in varying forms, around the world. Its imprint is all around us. For example, a seminal 2014 Harvard FXB Center report authored by Siddharth Kara exposes the shocking conditions to which young children are exposed in India’s hand-woven carpet industry, a major source of carpets  for the United States. And yet…

A Brief History of National ID Cards

“ID card adoption is more likely following economic or political shocks” by Connor T. Jerzak National ID cards can provoke diverse reactions. In some countries, identity cards are seen as uncontroversial,even boring, documents. In others, the cards can arouse heated controversy. In short, what is striking about national ID cards is how debate over their merits has varied over space and time. In this blog, we trace out this evolution…

From Community to Emergency Room

On October 30 Director Jennifer Leaning delivered a keynote at the Annual Conference on Disaster Preparedness and Response 2015: From Community to Emergency Room in Hong Kong. The conference was the culmination of the first year of Harvard FXB Center’s involvement in the Disaster Resilience and Response Program, a collaboration between the center, local universities, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Disaster Preparedness and Response Institute. Leaning’s keynote outlined risks…

A Global Biometrics Project for Our Times

by Justin Hughes and Andrew Hopkins Preserving and protecting the identity of refugees has never been more critical. As hundreds of thousands continue to flee conflict and persecution across the world, the lack of a verifiable identity leaves many of them vulnerable to exploitation and limits their chances to get assistance and build a new life. Fears that this system will be exploited by criminals have contributed to the need…

Where’s the Sex in MNCH?

October 23, 2015. Harvard FXB Center’s Policy Director Alicia Yamin addressed the final plenary session of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference on October 21, 2015. While health is essential to the self-realization of all people, Yamin noted, a focus on the sexual and reproductive rights of women is especially important because allowing women to control their bodies and their lives is fundamental to their being seen as full, dignified…

Protecting Children in Crisis

by Krista Oehlke October 21, 2015. Jacqueline Bhabha yesterday launched this year’s child protection curriculum with a brown bag lunchtime talk entitled “Child Protection and Migration: From Crisis to Crisis.” Bhabha focused on some of the chief protection issues child migrants are facing in today’s world and demanded an overhaul of the way we address them. “Child migration needs to be a central aspect of how we think about in-country…

Fighting for the Right to Health in Kenya

October 21, 2015. This month Allan Maleche, a visiting scholar at Harvard FXB Center, was elected chair of the Global Fund Board’s Implementer Group. Maleche, a passionate human rights advocate, has been working in the field of health and human rights in Kenya, his home country, since 2007. Since 2010 he has served as executive director of KELIN, an award-winning NGO that works to protect and promote health-related human rights.…

Public Health & Climate Change

October 20, 2015. Public health practitioners are uniquely positioned to help build resilience to climate-related disasters at the community level. So argue George Luber and Harvard FXB Fellow Jay Lemery in a recent whitepaper on extreme weather events and their impact on human health. The paper comes in advance of their upcoming book, to be published next month (Wiley). This month Lemery also co-authored a blog on climate change and…

Live Panel on Ending Child Poverty: Tune in at 1:15

October 19, 2015. Today the Coalition Against Child Poverty, which Harvard FXB Center co-founded in 2014, marks its official launch by co-hosting a United Nations side event on Child Poverty and the SDGs. The event will focus on how the SDGs can help children escape poverty and accelerate efforts to end poverty for all. A panel discussion on indicators and implementation, organized by the coalition, will be live-streamed today from…

Towards the End of Child Poverty

A Joint statement from the New Global Coalition to End Child Poverty October 16, 2015. The Global Coalition Against Child Poverty, of which Harvard FXB Center is a founding member, issued a joint statement, Towards the End of Child Poverty, today in anticipation of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17. The joint statement aims to articulate the shared understanding of partners on the importance of…

SDG SERIES: Are the SDGs the Vehicle to End AIDS by 2030?

by Allan Maleche September 17, 2015. This month’s UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 global development agenda will provide an opportunity for States to endorse 17 new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The goals, built on the momentum from implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2000-2015, will guide economic, environmental and social initiatives for the next 15 years. SDG 3, the overarching goal on health issues, seeks to…

SDG SERIES: Leaving No One Behind: Human Rights and Accountability

By Rebecca Brown At the upcoming Summit to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN will adopt the broadest political agreement to date, which in its Preamble announces the goals of eradicating poverty and inequality, achieving sustainable development, realizing the human rights of all, and achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. The agreement rightly points out that it is unprecedented in its scope. Overall,…

Mu’addameen: I offer them to you

The story of a Syrian refugee family in Jordan By Josyann Abisaab September 14, 2015. In Middle Eastern culture, when one expresses admiration for personal belongings such as clothing, jewelry, or decorative accessories, it is customary to offer the praised object in return. However, I did not expect the delicate-faced woman with the melancholic smile wearing a long, black dress and matching embroidered headscarf to offer me her most precious…

Roma Children’s Fight for Education

By Abbey Interrante August 12, 2015. When István was a young child, he aspired to become a dance instructor, just like his father. Another boy, András wanted to become a car mechanic. However, as young boys, István and András were held back from achieving these dreams by their school in Hungary—simply for being Roma. When they were seven years old, István and András were tested for a mental disability by…

$100K for 100 Romani Champions in Serbia

By Margareta Matache and Arlan Fuller August 11, 2015. Harvard FXB has been selected as one of 100 organizations that will receive grants of $100,000 each through the Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. Our plan is to work with 100 Romani adolescents from four university centers in Serbia to (1) identify the drivers of their success in education and (2) strengthen their leadership skills. The Romani Champions project, chosen…

New Book: “Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity”

Harvard FXB policy director Alicia Ely Yamin has authored a new book, Power, Suffering and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter. Featuring a foreword by Paul Farmer, the book is directed at a diverse audience (students, legal and public health practitioners, and others) and provides a solid argument for the transformative potential of human rights-based frameworks. From the cover: “This book represents a…

Physicians, Torture Survivors and Jails

by Ross MacDonald, Zachary Rosner, and Homer Venters August 3, 2015. Since the United Nations Convention Against Torture was adopted in 1984, training physicians to care for survivors of torture has become a valuable addition to traditional medical education. Throughout the world, there are approximately 50 programs and clinics dedicated to caring for survivors of torture, with many more medical and mental health professionals caring for these patients in other…

New UNHCHR Guide for Natl Human Rights Institutions

July 23, 2015. Harvard FXB, working in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organization, among other key partners, has produced a quick reference guide to help national human rights institutions and independent human rights institutions to effectively and meaningfully implement a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to sexual and reproductive health, maternal health andunder-5 child health. From the introduction: “National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)…

New UNHCHR Guide for Health Policy Makers

July 23, 2015. Harvard FXB, working in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organization, among other key partners, has produced a guide to help health policy makers “effectively and meaningfully implement a human rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health, maternal health and under-5 child health. From the introduction: Health policy makers have an important role to play in contributing to both the…

Kenya, Forced Sterilization, & Women with HIV

by Antonia Chan “…women were even asked to sign consent forms for their sterilization while in labor.” July 21, 2015. The High Court of Kenya has begun reviewing two important cases on the human rights of people living with HIV. The first concerns the forced or coerced sterilization of HIV-positive women; the second challenges a directive from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to list the names of HIV-positive individuals, including children.…

Financing Health for Women and Children Everywhere

June 10, 2015. Harvard FXB director Jennifer Leaning, along with Kathleen Hamill and Elizabeth Gibbons, both fellows at the center, participated substantively in the development of Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent, Everywhere: Financing Sexual Reproductive, Maternal , Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health in Every Setting. The report is the outcome of an experts meeting hosted by the World Bank Group and the United Arab Emirates that explored the financial…

Flawed New Proposals to Reform Child Labor Law in India

by Angela Duger and Jacqueline Bhabha “These exceptions strip the reform of its power…” July 9, 2105. On May 13, 2015, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Modi, approved some far-reaching changes to India’s child labor laws.[1] This move brings the country one step closer to adopting the 2012 Amendment to the long outdated 1986 Child Labor Act, which has for nearly 30 years regulated child labor throughout India.…

Solitary Confinement & Mental Illness: Letter to the Editor & Author Response

by Thomas R. Blair and Keramet A. Reiter Among approximately two million incarcerated people in the United States, fifty percent or more have mental illness. To the Editors: Glowa-Kollisch and colleagues present a well-considered and pragmatically impactful examination of “dual loyalty” concerns for mental health professionals in New York City jails.[1] We appreciate their particular focus on solitary confinement, and their recognition that “many institutions employ health and mental health…

Social Protection and Human Rights

July 7, 2015. The Social Protection and Human Rights platform promotes awareness of human rights based approaches to social protection. Its aim is to encourage critical thinking about current systems of social protection and to help bridge gaps between policy and practice. Established in 2013, the platform is an initiative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC),…

Free Human Rights Course, July 2015

A free nanocourse* on health and human rights will be held at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in July 2015. The short course will focus on the region sometimes referred to as the “Global South”: Latin and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Most states in the Global South have ratified international human rights treaties that recognize the right to health. However, in practice…

Ali’s Triumph

June 23, 2015. When he was just over a year old, Rahel noticed that her little boy, Ali, did not behave like other children. He liked to be alone, spending hours and hours in front of the television or staring at nothing at all. She tried playing games with him, but he didn’t seem to notice. When she called, he didn’t answer. He didn’t speak, or look others in the…

The Struggles of Roma in Kosovo

Mitrovica Bridge

By Dr. Bernd Franke June 19, 2015. In December 2014, local residents of Llaushë/Lauša village, in the city of Skenderaj in northern Kosovo, approached the Department of Forensic Medicine and reported a possible mass grave in the village cemetery. Four bodies had been buried there in the late nineties, during the Kosovo War, they said. In late April of this year, forensic experts from the European Union Rule of Law…

Building Childhoods, Building Peace

by Jacqueline Bhabha June 15, 2015. What is the connection between early childhood and peace? Can attention to early childhood development be a pathway to peacemaking and peacebuilding?  This was the ambitious topic of an international conference in Istanbul on June 10, organized by ACEV, an innovative, well-known Turkish mother and child development program, UNICEF, and Yale University. Speakers explored a very broad range of topics related to this expansive theme.…

OHCHR: Adolescents and Their Rights

By Jacqueline Bhabha June 8, 2015. Last week I attended a two-day colloquium at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as one of a group of about 30 experts invited to discuss a draft General Comment (GC) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[i] The topic: adolescence. The diverse group debated a wide range of issues, central among which were how to define…

Gender, Children, & Maternal Death

June 3, 2015. We now know that the toll of maternal death is far higher than generally assumed. This means that the drop in maternal mortality seen in some countries over the past decade is not by itself sufficient measure of the success of efforts to prioritize maternal health on the global health agenda. Maternal death is not just about mothers. “Tracing Shadows: How Gendered Power Relations Shape the Impacts…

Fighting School Segregation in Europe

by Margareta Matache and Arlan Fuller “The Roma movement has not been yet ready to…use protest, as a strategic pressure tactic.” May 27, 2015. School segregation stands as a stark expression of historic and current injustice against the Roma in Europe. In spite of legal and policy measures that now exist, the practice has neither stopped nor significantly diminished, as emphasized by Harvard FXB and DARE-Net in the Strategies and…

World Health Assembly Spotlight on Maternal & Newborn Health

By Rima Jolivet May 18, 2015. In an important development for the global maternal health community, the long-awaited Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) will be launched at the 68th World Health Assembly, at an event hosted by Cameroon and Malawi and co-sponsored by the contributors to the Every Newborn Action Plan. This event marks the culmination of over two years of consensus work and collaboration with multiple stakeholders…

Economic and Social Impacts of Maternal Death

by Tezeta Tulloch “For many girls, the only viable options that remained were early marriage and early motherhood.”* May 6, 2015. What happens when a mother dies? In the West, the most ready and obvious answer is grief – the harrowing emotional and psychological toll of losing a loved one. A mother’s death is largely viewed as a private tragedy that will grow more manageable in time. But in many…

Child Marriage and the Ghanaian Girl

By Emelia Allan “I know this not only because the research says so, but because of my own experience as a Ghanaian woman…” May 6, 2015. As a member of the Kassena-Nankani ethnic group in Ghana, I grew up seeing my cousins and other girls suffer the pain of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage too often and usually against their will. Although they detested these acts, not submitting…

Cambodian Children Need Better Alternative Care Options

by Chivith Rottanak “I feel like a duck in a cage, afraid someone will cook me….”* May 6, 205. In 2006 Cambodia adopted its Policy on Alternative Care for Children.[1] The policy is based on the premise that children are best raised in families and in communities, and that institutional care should serve as a temporary stopgap and last resort.[2] Later in 2006, the Ministry of Social Affairs issued a…

Europe 2020 and Roma Rights

by Ashley Collins May 1, 2015. “We are here to celebrate.” With this declaration Harvard FXB Director of Research Jacqueline Bhabha set the tone for the International Roma Day panel held at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies on April 8. This year, which marks the 25th anniversary of International Roma Day, Harvard FXB hosted a panel discussion to both reflect on the challenges facing the Roma in Europe and…

An Appeal to Protect the Children of Yemen

by Noor Al-Kasadi April 29, 2015. The situation in Yemen is complex. My country has endured many long years of chronic poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment and weak basic services. Yemen has also high rates of maternal, infant and under-five mortality as well as high rates of malnutrition. Complicating matters, Yemen serves as a transit point for migrants from the Horn of Africa seeking entry into Saudi Arabia. The more than one…

Lancet-Georgetown Commission on Global Health and the Law

April 21, 2015. Professor Alicia Ely Yamin is representing Harvard FXB on the newly launched Lancet – O’Neill Institute, Georgetown University Commission on Global Health and the Law. This purpose of the commission is to promote the perception of the law “as a major determinant of health and safety [that] can be utilized as a powerful and innovative tool to address pressing global health concerns.” The commission’s launch was accompanied…

Digital Mapping for Human Rights

by Ariel Low “…the merging of mapping and human rights presents a tremendous new opportunity to [gather] information about human rights abuses…” April 10, 2015. Digital mapping is uniquely suited to documenting human rights abuses because the human eye is drawn to images. Moreover, human rights abuses are inherently linked to geographical context. Working with Christoph Koettl of Amnesty International, I helped create a new website, Human Rights Mapping, which…

Bringing Together Global Health and Religion

April 6, 2015. Last Friday Harvard FXB was pleased to host the launch of Beholden: Religion, Global Health, and Human Rights, a new book by Susan Holman. The book considers two approaches to achieving health and equity that are often classified as ideologically disparate. On the one hand there is the human-rights based approach, which is rooted in systems of economic development and public health, along with the language of…