The editorial team of Clearinghouse Review hosted this panel discussion, "Claiming Our Role as Human Rights Lawyers: How a Human Rights Framework Can Advance Our Advocacy," on June 21, 2011.
Chandra Bhatnagar is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, focusing on the intersection of racial justice and immigration. He also works on advocacy regarding use of international and foreign law in U.S. courts and domestic implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Bhatnagar is counsel in David, et al. v. Signal International, LLC, et al., representing over 500 Indian men trafficked into the U.S. as guestworkers and subjected to abuse and involuntary servitude. Before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, he represents undocumented workers whose rights were violated in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB. He has filed a Request for Precautionary Measures to the IACHR on behalf of residents of Puerto Rico who were subjected to police brutality, denial of access to basic water and electrical services, and forced eviction. Bhatnagar is the principal author of The Persistence of Racial and Ethnic Profiling in the United States (2009), submitted to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Martha F. Davis is Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, where she also co-directs the law school’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy. Professor Davis is the author of numerous articles on human rights, women’s rights and welfare law and policy. She is co-editor of the book Bringing Human Rights Home and author of the prizewinning book, Brutal Need: Lawyers and the Welfare Rights Movement. Prior to joining the Northeastern faculty, Professor Davis was the Vice President and Legal Director of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York. She has litigated cases at all levels of state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has testified before Congress on numerous occasions, and has extensive experience with national television, radio and print media.
Monique Harden is co-director and attorney with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights in New Orleans, Louisiana, which she and co-director Nathalie Walker founded in 2002. Dedicated to upholding the human right to a healthy environment, AEHR holds companies and the government accountable when this right is violated and advocates for public policy that supports this right. On behalf of African Americans living in the historic community of Mossville, Louisiana, Ms. Harden and AEHR legal staff filed the first human rights petition seeking fundamental change to the U.S. environmental regulatory system. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States recently accepted the petition for review on the merits, marking the first time that an international human rights body has taken jurisdiction over a case of environmental racism in the United States. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil drilling disaster, AEHR is spearheading advocacy aimed at protecting the basic right of people harmed by a disaster to recovery with dignity and justice.
Cheryl Hystad is the Director of Advocacy for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, a private non-profit legal services provider. In that capacity she supervises the appellate and impact litigation of Legal Aid as well as its policy advocacy. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Ms. Hystad was the Executive Director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, where she advocated for consumers on a wide variety of issues including predatory lending, privacy and identity theft.
Sarah Paoletti is a Practice Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she founded and directs the Transnational Legal Clinic. From 2003-2006, she was a Practitioner-in-Residence in the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the Washington College of Law American University, where she taught a seminar on immigrant workers' labor and employment rights. Sarah has expertise in international human rights, immigrant and migrant rights, asylum law, and labor and employment law. For the past 18 months Prof. Paoletti has served as Senior Coordinator/Consultant for the US Human Rights Network’s US Universal Periodic Review Project, coordinating civil society participation as the US went through its review before the UN Human Rights Council. Before moving into clinical teaching, she was a staff attorney at Friends of Farmworkers, Inc., a statewide legal services program serving migrant workers in Pennsylvania. She also serves as President of the Board of Directors of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (Center for Workers' Rights), based in Zacatecas, MX.
Martha Davis, Human Rights in the Trenches: Using International Human Rights Law in 'Everyday' Legal Aid Cases, Clearinghouse Review, 2007.
For more on the Universal Periodic Review process see:
For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights see:
For information about the various international treaties see the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights see: