Counterterrorism measures that result in war crimes and crimes
against humanity, and elections providing opportunities for racist
demagoguery and nativist discrimination have been recent topics of
To enhance our understanding of the complex and sometimes
counter-intuitive relationships among these concepts, experts from
leading human rights organizations and universities in New York
State will gather at the University at Buffalo on April 27 for a
daylong “International Symposium on Counterterrorism,
Electoral Politics and Human Rights.”
The free, public event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in
107 Capen Hall, North Campus. It will be followed by a scholarship
fund dinner in Buffalo that benefits students interested in human
Both the symposium and dinner honor the memory of Alison L. Des
Forges, a member of the UB community who fought to call the
world’s attention to another great humanitarian crisis: the
genocide in Rwanda.
Des Forges, an internationally known historian and Buffalo
native, was an adjunct member of the UB history faculty during the
1990s. She was senior adviser to the Africa Division of Human
Rights Watch at the time of her death in 2009 in the crash of
Continental flight 3407 in Clarence Center.
The symposium will open with registration and welcoming remarks
at 9 a.m., followed by panels focusing on Africa, Europe and the
The Africa panel, from 9:30-11 a.m., includes the
- "Human Rights in the Context of Elections in Burundi, Uganda
Sarah Jackson, deputy regional director, Amnesty International
(via Skype), will discuss elections and human rights abuses in
Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda.
- "International Responses to Human Rights Crises in Sudan and
Jehanne Henry, senior researcher, Africa Division, Human Rights
Watch, will discuss Sudan and how international responses to crises
there have been fueled by competing priorities, and other
- "Political Process, Inclusion and Citizen Satisfaction with
Governance in West Africa"
Ryan Dalton, program officer, Central and West Africa,
National Democratic Institute, will discuss how activists in West
Africa are working to make the political process more inclusive and
to hold elected officials accountable.
The Europe panel, from noon to 1:30 p.m., includes the
- "Recasting Refugees as Terrorists: Populist Exploitation of
the National Security Narrative in European Electoral
Julia Hall, expert on counterterrorism and human rights,
Amnesty International, will discuss the ways that political leaders
have exploited the refugee crisis for electoral gain, and the
necessity of confronting the notion that refugees bring terrorism
to Europe and pose a threat to national security.
- "European Complicity in U.S. Drone Attacks and Mass
Eric Topfer, senior researcher and policy adviser, German
Institute for Human Rights, will outline how revelations about the
role of Ramstein Air Base in the U.S. drone war and the
contribution of German intelligence to “targeted
killings” have been explored through the parliamentary
investigation of global mass surveillance and counterterrorism
- "Turkey’s AKP after the July 15 Coup Attempt: Moving
toward End Game"
Howard Eissenstat, associate professor of history, St.
Lawrence University, will discuss the attempted military coup in
Turkey, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan response,
including the detainment of more than 100,000 and sacking more than
125,000 civil servants.
The United States panel, from 2-3:30 p.m., includes
the following presentations:
- "National Security and Human Rights in the U.S."
Naureen Shah, director, Security with Human Rights, Amnesty
International, will discuss ways in which the Trump administration
has threatened human rights in the name of national security, the
effectiveness of public resistance and barriers created by the
normalization of a global war paradigm that has existed since the
- "U.S. Counterterrorism and Human Rights Post Presidential
Laura Pitter, senior U.S. national security counsel, Human
Rights Watch, will discuss the dangers Trump’s
counterterrorism campaign proposals pose, and the damage many of
them have already done to U.S. national security, human rights, the
rule of law and the ability of the U.S. to promote these values
- "National Security and Recent Changes in U.S. Immigration
Nicole Hallett, assistant clinical professor of law and
director, Community Justice Clinic, UB School of Law, will discuss
the securitization of U.S. immigration policy and explore avenues
for protecting the human rights of immigrants affected by these
Sponsors include the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Committee;
Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy; Community for Global Health
Equity; Department of Comparative Literature; the Office of Equity,
Diversity and Inclusion; Department of History; Humanities
Institute; James Agee Chair in American Culture; Samuel P. Capen
Chair, Department of Philosophy; Department of Political Science;
and the Office of the Vice Provost for International Education.
A scholarship dinner and discussion after the symposium will
support an endowment that funds Alison L. Des Forges Memorial
Scholarships for Buffalo Public Schools graduates demonstrating a
strong interest in pursuing studies at UB related to human rights
and social justice.
The dinner, which costs $100 per seat, takes place from
6:30-9:30 p.m. on April 27 at the Jacobs Executive Development
Center, 672 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.
Reservations are required, and guests may RSVP by contacting
Kathleen Curtis at 716-645-2077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.