Dear Friends of the Donia Human Rights Center,

After a grueling year of mostly-virtual education, I'm delighted to welcome back our students, staff, and faculty to campus. Despite the serious challenges of the last academic year, the Donia Center's programming continued to help to educate Michigan students about human rights.  

We organized a terrific set of monthly speaker events, addressing topics from race relations in the U.S. and Brazil to the human rights implications of the pandemic. We offered a total of six summer internships for undergraduates, including three new opportunities at leading human rights NGOs: the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the Social Change Initiative in Belfast, and a student-initiated summer internship (which this year was with the Torture Abolition Survivors Support Coalition). We also awarded two Robert J. Donia Graduate Student Fellowships to graduate students doing research in human rights-related topics and, for the first time, offered a grant to faculty planning to organize a conference leading to a publication or other permanent representation related to human rights.

I'm also very pleased to announce our latest initiative -- the creation of the Donia Human Rights Fellows Program. As you'll see from this description, the program offers an opportunity to recognize our undergraduates who decide to focus on human rights during their time at the University of Michigan. Students who take a required number of courses and attend various DHRC events will be recognized, at graduation, as Donia Human Rights Fellows. The program will be open to juniors and seniors majoring in International Studies through the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) sub-plan in International Norms, Security, and Cooperation.  

And we are looking forward to another strong year of events, starting next month with our panel discussion Twenty Years after 9/11: Challenges to Human Rights Protection from Terrorism and Counter-terrorism, to be held on Tuesday, September 14 at 4:30pm at 250 Hutchins Hall and via Zoom Webinar. We are pleased that we will be able to offer this event in-person and intend to do so for future events as well. Other topics for this academic year will include human rights and climate change, as well as a review of the UN's special procedures mechanisms for the protection of human rights. We hope these events will serve as an opportunity to rebuild our connections as students of human rights and enable those attending these events to meet panelists in person. Because our Zoom-based events last year reached far beyond our campus (around the world, truly), we will simultaneously run a Zoom webinar of the event, and some panelists, due to travel limitations, will participate virtually only.

I look forward to seeing you this fall.

All the best,

Steven R. Ratner
Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law 
Director, University of Michigan Donia Human Rights Center