Human Rights in Business: A Movement Towards Corporate Consciousness

January 14-16, 2016

This year’s conference examined and critiqued existing models of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and explored the intersections of human rights and business ethics. The conference highlighted both the positive and negative effects of businesses on human rights in the global landscape. The numerous scholars, activists and policymakers invited to speak at the conference included Arvind Ganesan, director of Human Rights Watch’s Business and Human Rights Division and Amol Mehra, director of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. Delegates collaborated and extended current analysis and dialogue to examine possible solutions. Many popular companies market themselves as fair employers or environmentally responsible, but how truthful are those claims? Moving forward, how can we live lives that promote the kind of corporate consciousness that communities impacted by businesses need?


Human Rights in the Digital Age

January 15-18, 2015
This year’s conference explored the evolution of human rights in the context of the digital age and its rapidly changing technologies. Panelists and speakers focused on topics including the Internet as a human right and the issues surrounding access to information, the immense potential and limitations of technology in addressing global human rights issues, national security concerns associated with drones and other information gathering technologies, and the future of social media liberation technology and digital dissidence.


Environment and Human Rights: A Closer Look Into Sustainable Development and Environmental Accountability

January 16-18, 2014
NUCHR 2014 focused on climate change, sustainable development, environmental accountability, and the relationship between our environment and human rights. Conference attendees examined the effect of environmental abuses and climate change on vulnerable communities, particularly with regards to issues of water, land, and food accessibility and distribution.


Human Rights and International Peacekeeping: From Military Intervention to Local Anti-Violence Efforts

January 17-19, 2013
Participants explored the political, economic, and social forces behind international peacekeeping in order to understand the complexities underlying global and local efforts to build and to sustain peace in areas of conflict. Participants also went on an experiential learning trip to Cure Violence, a local organization working to end violence in Chicago. Speakers included Arthur Boutellis, Senior Policy Analyst at the International Peace Institute in New York, and Tom Oliver, founder and CEO of the World Peace Festival and World Peace Partnership.


From Famine to Food Deserts: Human Rights and the Global Food Crisis

January 19-21, 2012
Conference attendees explored the systemic causes behind hunger and famine worldwide in addition to the intersection of domestic food practices with international food issues. Attendees also learned about the topic through an experiential learning trip into Chicago, interacting with community organizers and food rights activists. Speakers included Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America, and Roger Thurow, author of “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty.”

Human Rights in Transit: Issues of Forced Migration

January 20-22, 2011
This conference analyzed the effect of borders on the universality of human rights, focusing on the roles of the host country and the country of origin in the protection of the rights of stateless migrants. Rose Mapendo, former Congolese refugee and founder of Mapendo New Horizons, and Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond, international expert on human rights and migration issues, were among the presenters.


Urban Slums: The Shadow of the Humanitarian Generation

January 21-24, 2010
Participants in this conference confronted the problems that slum dwellers face and, while focusing on the factors that maintain slum life, explored different motivations and approaches in addressing violations of the human rights of slum dwellers. Speakers included Katherine Sierra, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, and Robert Neuwirth, a prolific writer who has spent two years living in slums across the world.


Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid: Sovereignty, Accountability, and Effectiveness

January 22-25, 2009
This conference focused on the ethical and practical considerations of humanitarian aid by examining three key paradigms: the legal tension between concepts of humanitarian intervention and sovereignty; the ethical ramifications and dilemmas facing aid organizations; and the short- and long-term effects on countries’ economies. Nicholas De Torrente, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, and Dirk Salomons, Director of Humanitarian Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, were among the speakers in attendance.


Globalization and the Universality of Human Rights

April 10-13, 2008
Participants examined the impact of globalizing forces on the tension between cultural relativism and the universality of human rights in four key areas: multinational corporations, cultural/religious issues, health, and international justice. Featured speakers were New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, and Mark Hanis, founder and Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network.


Torture: A Critical Look

March 29-31, 2007
The conference included panels and presentations on various aspects of the torture debate; the ecology of torture, the history of torture, a critical analysis from a media and cultural perspective, an evaluation of health and torture, as well as a survivors panel. Renowned speakers included Nobel Peace-Prize nominated M. Cherif Bassiouni, former Chairman of the Security Council’s Commission to Investigate War Crimes; Sister Dianna Ortiz, torture survivor and author of “The Blindfold’s Eye: My Journey from Torture to Truth;” and Marijana Senjak, founder of the Center for Psychological Help in War, Zenica, in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


The Chains that Remain: Human Trafficking in a Global Context

April 6-9, 2006
The conference included panels and presentations on global trafficking in the United States, Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Africa. Featured speakers included Ambassador John Miller of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and Ambassador Olara Otunnu, former U.N. Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict and Ugandan Ambassador to the United Nations.


U.S. Policy Toward AIDS in the Developing World

April 28-30, 2005
This year’s focus was on U.S. policy toward AIDS in the developing world. The impressive array of speakers included Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization Doctors Without Borders; Stephen Lewis, the U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa; and Dr. Mark Dybul, the Assistant U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

U.S. Interventionist Policy

April, 2004
This conference examined the United States’ policy toward several major international human rights crises, such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the ethnic cleansing campaigns in the Balkans during the 1990’s. General Romeo Dallaire, the former commander of the United Nations forces in Rwanda, and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke were among the presenters.