Belem do Para
IWHR co-founders, Professors Copelon and Romany both served on the expert group that drafted the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (called "Belem do Para" for the city in Brazil where it was approved by the OAS in l994). Throughout the process, IWHR students prepared analyses and critiques of country and draft responses and helped to alert NGOs in the hemisphere to lobby their governments.
UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), General Comment 2
In November 2007, the UN Committee Against Torture adopted General Comment No. 2, which addresses the erosion of human rights witnessed during the post-September 11th era. This historic Comment prohibits sexual torture and gender violence in custodial situations as well as where states acquiesce to private violence, including domestic violence. Several generations of IWHR interns assisted in the drafting of the CAT Committee's General Comment 2 on the prevention of torture.
Since the 1990s, IWHR has worked with local Haitian women's groups to address violence against women. The Clinic has submitted numerous communications on gender violence to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. IWHR's petition calling attention to rape and other violations of Haitian women during the Cedras dictatorship resulted in the IACHR's first recognition that rape is a form of torture under the American Convention of Human Rights and a crime against humanity. Information about our most recent work in Haiti is available here.
Child Soldiers in Colombia
Thousands of children have been recruited as soldiers in Colombia's armed conflict. Many are subjected to sexual violence and many suffer from either cognitive/social or physical disabilities. The Clinic has conducted ongoing investigations including interviewing and developing testimony of demobilized child soldiers in Colombia and authored human rights report submissions to various UN Human Rights Mechanisms.
Advocacy Before the CAT Committee
The IWHR has also successfully submitted reports and lobbied the Committee Against Torture on the need for reparations for rape and sexual violence committee by the Pinochet regime (Chile, 2004) and sexualized violence and abuse in Abu Graib and domestic violence (U.S., 2006).
The Clinic has been actively involved in gender-based violence cases in the Inter-American System. We submitted amicus briefs in the Jessica Gonzales case, seeking redress for U.S. failure to ensure the enforcement of a protective order that led to the death of Jessican's children; the "Cottonfield's" case, challenging Mexico's failure to prevent and investigate the violent deaths of women in Ciudad Juarez; and the Ramjattan case, challenging the Trinidad and Tobego's imposition of the death penalty in a case in which a battered woman killed her spouse.
IWHR has been involved in several efforts to create accountability and recognition of violence against women through NGO tribunals. Students worked as Assistant Legal Advisors and researched and prepared the draft judgment for the International Women's Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery (Tokyo Tribunal). In 2009-10, interns provided legal support and prepared a draft judgment for the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma, which took place on March 2, 2010 in NY. In September 2012, IWHR participated in the Symbolic Tribunal on Sexual Violence within Colombia's Armed Civil Conflict. Interns served as legal advisors and helped to prepare the draft judgment. An IWHR Professor served as a judge on a five-judge panel of international experts from Spain, Chile and Guatemala.