Law School Symposium to Focus On 'human Rights, Environment And Community'

By Mary Beth Spina

Release Date: April 8, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The ways in which human-rights abuses and abuse of the environment overlap will be explored during a two-day symposium to be held at the University at Buffalo Law School on April 17 and 18.

Workshops and speakers, including scholars and activists in the fields of international law, human rights and environmental protection, are scheduled for the program in O'Brian Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

The program, "Human Rights, Environment and Community," which will begin at 10 a.m. on both days will be sponsored by UB's Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy. Participants will assemble in the faculty lounge on the fifth floor of O'Brian Hall.

Co-sponsors will be the Canadian-American Studies Committee, Conferences in the Disciplines, Human Rights Center, Mitchell Lecture Fund and the Environment and Society Institute, all at UB.

A highlight of the event will be the free showing and Western New York premiere of the movie, "Power: The James Bay Cree vs. Hydro-Quebec," at 7 p.m. on April 17 in Buffalo State College's Campus West Auditorium, 1300 Elmwood Ave.

The movie, directed by Magnus Isaccson and produced by Glen Salzman, follows the inside, dramatic story of efforts by the Grand Chief of the Crees, Matthew Coon Come, to halt the James Bay/Great Whale Hydroelectric Project.

The showing of the movie will be sponsored by the Canada-U.S. Legal Studies Centre. It will be co-sponsored by Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe, a local Native-American cultural organization; the office of Assemblyman Sam Hoyt; the Buffalo State College Native American Student Services, and UB's Department of Art History.

Hoyt, son of the late Assemblyman William Hoyt, a champion of environmental justice who was involved in the movie's live drama, will introduce the film.

The movie focuses on the politics on both sides of the border and in Quebec, the 1990 Earth Day Cree journey to New York City by dogsled and odeyak -- a hybrid of the Cree canoe and Inuit kayak -- and the story of the hard-won victories by the Cree.

An update on the situation will be presented by members of the UB law faculty and Yvonne Dion, a member of the Cree Nation who lives in Buffalo.

Panels held on both days will discuss "Linking Human Rights, Environment and Community," "Recent Institutional Developments" and "Comparing Agendas: Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Justice." A fourth will cover reports from five working groups.

Panelists and guest speakers will include Martin Scheinin of Finland, a legal scholar and member of the UN Human Rights Committee; S. James Anaya of the University of Iowa School of Law, a human-rights attorney; Lakshman Guruswamy of the University of Tulsa School of Law; Sevine Ercmann of the legal offices of the Council of Europe; Peter Ekeh, UB professor of African-American studies; Michael Haney, director of the American Indian Arbitration Institute, and Peter W. Hutchins of Hutchins, Soroka & Dionee in Quebec.

Also, Errol Meidinger, UB professor of law and director of the Environment and Society Institute; Claude E. Welch Jr., SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the UB Department of Political Science; Jolene Rickard, UB visiting assistant professor of art history; Charles Zerner, director of the Rainforest Alliance; R. Nils Olsen, Jr., vice dean for academic affairs and professor in the UB Law School; Neil Popovic, director of the UN Program for Earthjustice, and Peggy Shepard of West Harlem Environmental Action.

Moderators will include Makau Mutua, UB associate professor of law and co-director of the Human Rights Center; Robert Dentan, UB professor of American studies and anthropology; Wendy Irvine, UB lecturer in law; S. James Anaya and Errol Meidinger.

The $45 registration fee for the program/workshops will be waived for SUNY faculty members and students. Non-SUNY students will be admitted for $15. The registration fee includes the cost of a buffet dinner at the law school on April 17. Those unable to attend dinner on April 17 may pay a reduced fee of $30 per person. The cost of the closing dinner at 7 p.m. on April 18, which is not included in the registration fee, will be $15 per person.

For more information, call (716) 645-3989. Pre-registration is required.