International Human Rights

Question no. 1
(Limit of 6 pages)

Statutes in the U.S. specifically authorizing civil actions to compensate victims of human rights violations are now limited to 3: the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).  This legislative framework offers only limited scope for potential plaintiffs.

Assume that you are a member of the legal staff of a newly-elected Member of Congress in the House of Representatives. Your Representative is interested in developing legislation that would offer victims of human rights violations greater access to the U.S. judicial system to pursue private civil actions. She asks you to lay out some suggestions for her so that she can consider raising them on the floor of Congress.
What kind(s) of legislation would you want to pursue and develop? (1) Amendments to any existing legislation to make the statute more useful to potential victim-plaintiffs? If so, which legislation would you want to amend? How would you amend it, and why? (2) New legislation? If so, what kinds of legislation might be appropriate, and why? With regard to any suggested legislation, discuss who could be plaintiffs and who could be defendants, and the specific violations of human rights that would be covered under it.
Do not concern yourself with whether such legislation (new or amendments) would be able to secure a majority vote in Congress. Concentrate only on what legislation you think would best serve potential plaintiff-victims in the U.S.


Question no. 2
(Limit of 6 pages)

Ever since the end of World War II, a large number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been established.  Most of these are dedicated to human rights in one form or another – although a number of NGOs focus on the rights of other living beings (apes, sea mammals such as dolphins, and the like).
Most international NGOs have affiliates and members around the world, so that incidents in their area of interest can and will be immediately brought to the attention of the larger world community.  These organizations are therefore in a position to advance their missions by focusing on specific cases.  Their “on the ground” information has usually been considered trustworthy, and therefore the NGOs’ voice in the international arena has been enhanced.
The NGOs use their specific cases to muster international support for further action, whether that action consists of shaming countries that violate human rights or of proposing standards, regulations or treaties to prevent future abuses of human rights.
In recent years, however, it seems clear that some so-called NGOs have been formed or sponsored by governments or quasi-governments to produce and promote a counter-voice in the international arena.  These so-called NGOs deliberately downplay or re-interpret events (e.g., invasions of other countries, killing of civilians, disruptions of democratic protest movements, etc.) to make governmental actions seem benevolent or acceptable, even though those actions would traditionally be viewed as violations of human rights.
Because of the “fake news” spread by such so-called NGOs, the legitimacy or credibility of true NGOs has been weakened.  It has often been difficult to distinguish between the veracity of conflicting stories.
In order to restore the authentic voice of true NGOs, some academics and others have proposed some form of “licensing” or approval of NGOs at the international level.  Who would oversee this approval process is unclear.
You are a staff lawyer in the U.S. State Department.  Your supervisor asks you to think about this issue.  She wants you to analyze the pro’s and con’s (good points and bad points) about any such NGO approval process.  She would also like your opinion as to whether the U.S. should approve of or oppose any such international process.
Do so.