Human Rights in the US: Incorporating International Law into Everyday Practice



December 12, 2014
Auditorium, Portland Building

9 – 9:15
Welcome and Introduction

9:15 – 10:15
Human Rights 101: An introduction to international human rights law principles, and the covenants, treaties and statutes underlying those principles.


Applying Human Rights in Cases: Discussion of how international law has been utilized by public interest attorneys in the U.S., focusing on legal services and public defender programs. This will include a discussion of specific case examples.

Post-Kiobel Alien Tort Claims Act Cases: Discussion of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting the application of international law, and how lower courts have attempted to apply those decisions. Particular focus will be on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., ___U.S.___,133 S.Ct. 1659 (2013).

Lunch (on your own)

Small Group Discussions on Applying Human Rights in Cases: Participants will be divided into small groups, given case hypotheticals, and asked to discuss how international law and legal principles can be incorporated in the litigation of those cases.


Beyond Litigation: Working with Special Rapporteurs, Treaty Bodies and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: This discussion will focus on the role of Special Rapporteurs through the U.N., Treaty Bodes and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, how to work with these entities, and best practices for selecting cases and issues to bring before each type of international mechanism. Specific examples of cases and issue areas will be provided.

Closing Thoughts & Begin Discussion on Where to Go from Here


Speaker Biographies

Lauren E. Bartlett
Lauren E. Bartlett is Research and Training Director of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C. Ms. Bartlett is a former legal aid attorney who worked at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services from 2008-2011. In 2007, Ms. Bartlett co-founded the Louisiana Justice Institute, a nonprofit civil rights legal advocacy organization, where she focused on protecting the rights of persons affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Ms. Bartlett has extensive human rights experience, including providing trainings and technical assistance to nonprofits  incorporating human rights law in U.S. advocacy and using international human rights mechanisms, conceiving of and taking the lead on drafting the first Human Rights in the U.S. handbook for Legal Aid Attorneys, providing live testimony to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing after Hurricane Katrina, and participating as a research assistant for a member of the United Nations Committee Against Torture. She has taught as an adjunct professor of law at both Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and at American University Washington College of Law. Before obtaining her law degree, Ms. Bartlett worked with non-profit organizations in California, Nepal, Ghana, Bangladesh and India, alongside advocates fighting for social and environmental justice.

She received her B.A. from the University of California, Davis, and is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law. Ms. Bartlett is admitted to practice law in California and Louisiana.

Gwynne Skinner
Professor Skinner is an Associate Professor of Law at Williamette University College of Law. She directs the International Human and Refugee Rights Clinic at Willamette, teaches the affiliated seminar, and also teaches Refugee Law and Human Rights. Prior to law teaching Willamette, Professor Skinner was a civil rights and international human rights attorney in Seattle, a civil litigator with the national law firm of Dorsey and Whitney LLP, and a federal and state prosecutor, initially with the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program.  She was also a visiting professor at Seattle University School of Law.

Professor Skinner has several years’ experience litigating human rights cases under the Alien Tort Statute and civil rights claims, as well as appellate practice in these areas. Among other cases, she and the Clinic are litigating the cases Hamad v. Gates, et al, and Ameur v. Gates, et al, which allege violations of customary international law and constitutional law on behalf of two former Guantanamo Bay detainees.  The cases are on appeal.  Most recently, Professor Skinner served as the U.S. expert and lead author on the Access to Judicial Remedy Project for the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), and presented the report at the Second Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights.  The report is entitled The Third Pillar – Access to Judicial Remedies for Human Rights Violations by Transnational Business (with Prof. Olivier De Schutter and Prof. Robert McCorquodale), International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, December 2013, found at:

Professor Skinner also has substantial experience representing immigrants seeking asylum.  She has also been involved in several human rights fact-findings and reports, including on the conditions of immigrant detention and on human trafficking. Professor Skinner’s scholarly research primarily focuses on legal issues related to human and civil rights litigation in U.S. courts.  Professor Skinner is a member of the Oregon and Washington bars and is admitted to practice in the federal district courts of both states, as well as before the Ninth, Eighth, and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Steven Goldberg
Steven Goldberg is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and has been an attorney in Oregon since 1975. For 26 years he was a partner in the Portland law firm of Goldberg, Mechanic, Stuart & Gibson. Since January 2006, he has been in his own office, focusing on civil litigation and the representation of labor unions and working people. Steven has also been involved in several more political cases over the years: He has represented prisoners challenging medical and mental health conditions in the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, Freedom Socialist Party in gaining access to the ballot in Oregon, an Oregon National Guardsman in his challenge to the U.S. Army’s stop loss policy which involuntarily extended military enlistments sending soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. Goldberg was part of the legal team which challenged the National Security Agency’s warrantless electronic surveillance of an Islamic charity in southern Oregon. A successful trial court ruling was recently overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Goldberg has also been chairperson of the National Lawyers Guild’s international committee, and has represented the Guild at meetings in, and delegations to, South Africa, Cuba, Israel and Palestine, and in March 2011, to Tunisia. In June 2012, Goldberg participated in a program in Burundi, sponsored by Global Rights, a Washington, D.C.– based human rights organization – which trained attorneys from Burundi, Uganda and Nigeria to handle human rights litigation.


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