Letter from the Director

Dear friends,

This Annual Report goes to press at a challenging time for those of us who care about human rights. Personally, I’m still struggling to come to terms with the rising signs of intolerance in this country and around the world, and the human rights implications of some policies promoted by the incoming administration. While I’m proud of the work our Center has done to date, I’m also more convinced than ever that now is no time to rest on our laurels.

I invite you, with this Annual Report, to take a “deep dive” into different areas of our work, to get to know a few of the terrific students, faculty, and programs that make our Center tick. And then I urge you to please get involved in helping us envision the ways forward for 2017.

While Centers for Human Rights exist on other university campuses, the distinguishing hallmark of our approach is our collaboration with organizations and individuals on the front lines of human rights efforts. We seek to bring practitioner insights to campus through partnerships with organizations like Landesa, whose visiting land rights fellows joined us at UW for the fifth year running in 2015-16, and with programming like the October 5, 2015 conference on “Access to Information as a Human Right.

We also focus on delivering real-world results. Our engaged research projects pair students and faculty with off-campus partners in tackling some of the world’s most vexing human rights challenges. This Report showcases the work of our Unfinished Sentences project seeking justice for crimes against humanity committed during the Salvadoran armed conflict and our Rethinking Punishment project tackling mass incarceration in the United States.

We’re able to do this because of our extraordinary faculty, who anchor our work in cutting-edge research. This Report features an interview with Prof. Jamie Mayerfeld about his newly-published book. An accomplished scholar in his field and an indefatigable advocate of human rights, Prof. Mayerfeld is in good company. Over the past year, UW’s human rights faculty continued to reap recognition, including election to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, appointment to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, receipt of multi-year research grants, and the publication of new books and articles.

We also rely on the energies and innovation brought by our students, like Andre Stephens, a PhD candidate in Sociology who is the first beneficiary of the Benjamin Linder Fund. The Linder Fund is the sixth endowment established in the CHR since our founding six years ago. That’s a pretty impressive track record, testament to the generosity of the CHR community. We “pay it forward” by supporting student leaders like Andre. Last year, we disbursed almost $75,000 to students conducting human rights work.

I hope that as you review these pages, you will see hope and potential and excitement reflected in the words and faces and ideals of the CHR community. As director, my top priority now is expanding support for work on the theme of “Human Rights at Home.” Please consider donating today so that we can help our students, faculty, and community partners continue to work toward the realization of the promise of human rights.

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