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Global Institute for Human Rights - Summer ’18

The Penn Law Global Institute for Human Rights convenes leaders in the human rights field to educate the next generation of human rights scholars and practitioners. 

              2017 Institute students at the United Nations2017 Institute students at the United Nations

The Global Institute for Human Rights is an immersive one-week course of study aimed at undergraduate and graduate students interested in human rights. The goals of the Institute are three-fold - (1) to introduce students to a rigorous study of human rights theory, (2) to explore current and pressing human rights issues, and (3) to expose future proponents of human rights to possible careers in human rights advocacy. 

The human rights discourse has inspired domestic and transnational movements that have played a role in the creation of important domestic and international human rights norms. Human rights are now a cornerstone of foreign policy, nation building, and good governance. The Institute will examine the theory and practice of human rights - treaties, cases, and institutions - from a comparative law perspective, emphasizing key issues in contemporary human rights.

View the 2017 Global Institute for Human Rights Program Summary 

The 2018 Institute will be held from May 21-25 in New York, NY. The focus of this year’s program will be refugee rights, women’s rights, and human rights and business. The final day of the Institute will take place at the United Nations, where students will make policy presentations and hear additional lectures from U.N. human rights practitioners.

Rangita de Silva de Alwis 
Academic Director

Note from the Academic Director

“Securing the protection and promotion of human rights globally remains one of the major challenges of the 21st century. Notwithstanding the significant advances in international human rights norms, systemic discrimination and inequality remain pervasive and is often referred to as the unfinished business of the 21st century. The Penn Law Global Institute will critically examine three rapidly developing areas of the international human rights system: 1) the human rights system as it relates to the protection and promotion of women in peace and as a powerful tool in countering violent extremism; 2) the intersectionality of human rights in the area of business and human rights; and 3) the growing global crisis relating to the movement of migrants and refugees around the world.”  

2017 Program Schedule*

May 22 – May 26, 2017

  Critical Debates on Women’s Human Rights Critical Debates on Women’s Human Rights Migrant & Refugee Rights Business & Human Rights Site Visit to the United Nations

Morning Session


(9:00am -10:30am)
Program Introductions Women, Peace & Security: A Transformative Agenda Migrant & Refugee Rights: Overview & Fundamentals  Shaping the Global Guidelines on Business & Human Rights The History of Human Rights at the UN
Instructors  Cheryl Hardy, Hagana Kim & Rangita de Silva de Alwis Rangita de Silva de Alwis  Sarah Paoletti, Penn Law Ursula Wynhoven, OHCHR Antonio Cisneros, OHCHR

Morning Session


Critical Norms of  International Women’s Human Rights & CEDAW Pressing Challenges of Women’s Human Rights: Child Marriage Refugee Protection: A Case Study from the Field   Business and Human Rights: Theory in Action and Chellenges in the Field Certificate Ceremony & Lunch at the UN Delegates Lounge 


Rangita de Silva de Alwis  Rangita de Silva de Alwis & Pinky Mehta, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP  Natasha Arnpriester, Human Rights First   Robert Cusumano & Nicola Port, Chubb   United Nations 

Afternoon Session


(1:30pm -3:00pm)

Critical Norms of International Women’s Human Rights & its Intersectionalities Pressing Challenges of Women’s Human Rights: Honor Crimes Burgeoning Challenges in Labor Trafficking:  David et al. v. Signal International LLC    Anticorruption, the Rule of Law & Business    Tour of the United Nations 
Instructors   Rangita de Silva de Alwis   Rangita de Silva de Alwis Eben Colby, Skadden Arps  Robert Cusumano & Ariel Meyerstein, Citi  United Nations 

Afternoon Session


Gender & the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs   Pressing Challenges of Women’s Human Rights: Acid Crimes  The Ongoing Battle for Political Asylum: Human & Legal Challenges    Anticorruption, the Rule of Law & Business   
 Instructors   Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Paloma Duran, UN SDG Fund & Akiko Ito, UN   Rangita de Silva de Alwis & Farahnaz Ispahani, Woodrow Wilson Center Elena Coyle, Skadden Arps  Robert Cusumano & Ariel Meyerstein, Citi   

*2018 Program Schedule forthcoming


Lecturers from the 2017 Institute

Natasha Arnpriester

Chubb Rule of Law & Human Rights Fellow

Natasha Arnpriester began her fellowship at Human Rights First, where she works in the group’s international refugee protection division, focusing on refugee advocacy and refugee law within the international context. Previously, Natasha worked with Solidarity Now, an organization that provides legal support for refugees in Greece where she conducted investigations in refugee camps in search of claims to bring to the European Court of Human Rights.


Antonio M. Cisneros de Alencar

Human Rights Officer, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Antonio Cisneros de Alencar (Bolivia) is the Gender and Women’s Rights Adviser at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) Office in New York.
Prior to this, Mr. Cisneros was a Human Rights Policy Specialist for the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) advising United Nations Country Teams on integrating human rights into their work, and before that he was the OHCHR’s Programme Coordinator in Guatemala, where he helped establish an innovative strategic litigation program for Indigenous Peoples.

Mr. Cisneros has worked with the United Nations for over sixteen years now; in New York, in Geneva and in the field; assisting countries in the integration of international human rights norms, including those related to indigenous peoples’ rights, into various national plans and programs; from ensuring an effective police reform in Nicaragua, to defusing the potential of inter-ethnic conflict in Guyana; from aiding the investigation of extrajudicial executions in Jamaica, to defining a human rights-based disarmament policy in Venezuela, and increasing engagement with human rights mechanisms in the United States. Mr. Cisneros helped OHCHR establish its Regional Office for Central America based in Panama, and Country Offices in Mexico and Guatemala.

Mr. Cisneros holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Mexico, and Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida, in the United States. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.


Eben Colby

Partner, Litigation, Skadden Arps

Mr. Colby has litigated in state and federal courts, trial and appellate, around the United States, regulatory and administrative proceedings, and private arbitrations and mediations.

Mr. Colby’s notable matters include:

⦁    obtaining a jury verdict in a Massachusetts business court in favor of a large asset manager and fiduciary trust company in an action brought by a former executive involving deferred compensation and other claims, including successfully obtaining a jury finding that the former executive breached fiduciary duties;

⦁    representing a top-tier international asset manager defending an action brought under Section 36(b) of the Investment Company Act challenging its receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars of management fees;

⦁    representing a special committee of the board of directors of a large custody bank in an independent investigation of pay-to-play allegations;

⦁    defending large asset management firms and their employees in SEC insider trading investigations as well as conducting independent investigations into potentially improper conduct by portfolio managers and others;

⦁    securing summary judgment dismissal of Rule 10b-5 claims against one of the nation’s largest mutual fund companies in an MDL proceeding consolidating more than 80 putative class actions;

⦁    representing a major mutual fund company defending an ERISA class action alleging that it breached its fiduciary duties by offering proprietary funds in its retirement plan and that it failed to monitor those investment options;

⦁    representing an institutional money manager in the successful defense of fraud, RICO, breach of contract and other claims brought by a corporate pension plan in a private arbitration;

⦁    securing summary judgment dismissal, affirmed on appeal, of state court fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and other claims against an investment adviser brought by a state employees’ retirement system;

⦁    representing a large investment adviser in multiple employment disputes involving fiduciary duty, wrongful termination and contract claims concerning tens of millions of dollars of compensation;

⦁    representing mutual fund firms in a broad range of investigations and enforcement actions by the SEC, the DOJ, and state and self-regulatory agencies;

⦁    representing a Massachusetts high-technology company in theft of confidential information, covenant not to compete and “employee raiding” litigation; and

⦁    representing high-technology and pharmaceutical companies in SEC insider trading investigations related to acquisitions and FDA approval processes.

Mr. Colby was named a 2016 “Asset Management Rising Star” by Law360 and was selected as one of the National Law Journal’s “Rising Stars” in Boston for 2014.

Mr. Colby is active in various pro bono matters. He was awarded the 2013 Women’s Bar Foundation Pro Bono Award for his work in abuse prevention cases for clients in crisis due to domestic violence. Mr. Colby also led a Skadden team in a consortium of firms representing Indian welders and pipefitters brought to the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the nation’s largest-ever labor trafficking suit, obtaining a historic settlement valued at over $20 million as well as apologies from the perpetrators of the scheme to its victims. In 2015, Skadden was among those honored with the “Global Citizenship Award (Grand Prize)” at The American Lawyer “Global Legal Awards” for representing Indian guest workers in the largest series of labor trafficking cases in U.S. history. 


Elena M. Coyle

Associate, Skadden Arps

Specialization: Financial Institutions, Insurance Mergers and Acquisitions

J.D., Stanford Law School, 2010
B.A., University of Virginia, 2007


Robert Cusumano

Founder and CEO of the Legal Horizons Foundation

Robert Cusumano is the founder and CEO of the Legal Horizons Foundation, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to the enhancement of the rule of law around the world.

Cusumano is the former general counsel of international insurance company ACE Limited, who as the previous leader of ACE’s legal team supervised a global staff of more than 400 professionals, including 150 attorneys practicing in 30 jurisdictions around the world.  During his time as general counsel at ACE and a member of the insurer’s executive management committee, Cusumano was responsible for the legal, compliance, litigation, transactional and government affairs functions of the publicly traded company, helping legally guide the company’s management of current and legacy assets and liabilities arising out of one of the world’s most diverse property-casualty operations.  During his tenure there, ACE expanded to more than $30 billion in revenue with 15,000 employees in 54 countries.

While at ACE, Cusumano established the ACE Rule of Law Fund, which provides grants to organizations and initiatives that support rule of law worldwide.  The programs are funded by ACE in-house lawyers, multiplied with donations from outside counsel partners and company contributions.

He is a member of the Board of the Appleseed National Network, the City Bar Fund, and the Vance Center for International Justice.

Cusumano earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College.


Rangita de Silva de Alwis

Associate Dean for International Programs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Rangita de Silva de Alwis is the Associate Dean of International Affairs at University of Pennsylvania Law School. She teaches International Women’s Human Rights Law. At Penn Law she has developed partnerships with OHCHR, UN Women and UNESCO and other multinational organizations.  Before coming to Penn Law, she was the inaugural director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Seven Sisters Colleges at Wellesley College which then moved to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Rangita is a women’s human rights scholar and practitioner with over 25 years of experience working globally in over 25 countries with a vast network of academic institutions, government, and nongovernment entities on women’s human rights law and policy making and institutional reform. She has convened several transnational networks including the Women’s Leadership Network in Muslim Communities, the Asia Cause Lawyer Network in India, and the Gender and Law Expert Group and the Women’s Watch in China. She has worked over 15 years  with Chinese gender and law experts and academics and has testified  twice before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on the  status of women’s rights in China. She has advised UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNDP on state accountability under the relevant human rights treaties and the intersections of the different treaties and treaty bodies. She has lectured at Yale Law School and spoken around the world on gender based law reform. She has published widely with the United Nations, and in various leading law journals including with Yale Journal of Law and Feminism; Texas Journal of Gender and the Law; University of Pennsylvania East Asia Law Journal; Duke Journal of Gender and the Law; UCLA Pacific Rim Journal; UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Relations, Michigan Journal of International Law, University of Washington International Law Journal, and University of Pennsylvania International Law Journal.

Most recently, she developed a Gender Supplement to the U.N. Secretary General’s Guidelines on Disability, and a report to the World Bank on Women’s Voice and Agency. Her latest work has been on Gender and Disability Lawmaking for UN DESA. Her paper on Women and Constitution- making in Tunisia is to be published by the Berkeley Journal of International Law, and Women and the Reform of Personal Laws in India to be published by the NYU Journal of International Law and Policy.

Rangita has a LL.M and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School and was a Teaching Fellow with the European Law Research Institute at Harvard Law School, a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. She was a Fulbright Specialist with the Asian University of Women, a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Wellesley College, and a Visiting Scholar at Wellesley Centers for Women, a Salzburg Global Fellow and an Honorary Professor of China Women’s University. She has received many recognitions for her work on international women’s human rights. Most recently she was honored by Harvard Law School as a Woman Inspiring Change, Women’s International Day, and March 2015. She serves on several Boards including the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Harvard University and is a trustee of the Harpswell Foundation.


Paloma Durán

Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund (SDGF)

Paloma Durán earned a PhD on the Jurisprudence of the European Court on Human Rights and has since written many books and articles on Human Rights and Social Rights. She participated in many UN and European meetings, as academic, expert and adviser. She was Counselor for Human Rights and Social Affairs in the Permanent Mission of Spain to the UN during 2001/2004. During that time she was the main negotiator for many resolutions of the UN on Human Rights and Social issues, and she also was the main negotiator on those themes in UN-New York, during the Spanish Presidency of the European Union (2002).

She was one of the six experts of the Working Group of the Council of Europe on Affirmative Actions and one of the authors of the report approved by the Council. Currently, she is Professor in the Law School of the University Complutense (Madrid, Spain).

Paloma Durán has been Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund (SDGF) since September 2014.


Farahnaz Ispahani

Global Fellow Asia Program, Wilson Center, Author and former Member, Pakistan Parliament

Farahnaz Ispahani is the author of the recently released book (Harper-Collins, India) Purifying The Land of The Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.

In 2015, she was a Reagan-Fascell Scholar at the National Endowment for Democracy, in Washington, DC where she worked on Women and Extremist groups with a focus on the women of ISIS. Ispahani was a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center from 2013-2014.

A Pakistani politician, Ispahani served as a Member of Parliament and Media Advisor to the President of Pakistan from 2008-2012. She returned to Pakistan with Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 after opposing the Musharraf dictatorship in the preceding years. In Parliament, she focused on the issues of terrorism, human rights, gender based violence, minority rights and US-Pakistan relations. The most notable pieces of legislation enacted with her active support include those relating to Women’s Harassment in the Workplace and Acid Crimes and Control, which made disfiguring of women by throwing acid at them a major crime. She was also a member of the Women’s caucus in the 13th National Assembly. The caucus, which straddled political divides, was instrumental in introducing more legislation on women’s issues than has ever been done before during a single parliamentary term.

Ms. Ispahani spent the formative years of her career as a print and television journalist. Her last journalistic position was as Executive Producer and Managing Editor of Voice of America’s Urdu TV. She has also worked at ABC News, CNN and MSNBC.

She has contributed opinion pieces to the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The National Review, The Hindu, India, The News, Pakistan and The Huffington Post.

Ms Ispahani has spoken at many forums in the US and abroad including the Aspen Ideas Festival, The Brussels Forum, The Aspen Congressional Program, The Chautauqua Institute, The University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College, Jamia Millia University, Delhi.


Akiko Ito

Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UN/Focal Point on Disability               

Ms. Akiko Ito is Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UN/Focal Point on Disability. She is also a Departmental Focal Point for Women of Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations.

Ms. Ito has extensively lectured and published on issues concerning disability and human rights at the United Nations. Previous to her current post, she worked in Legal Affairs Section of the United Nations Drug Control Programme in Vienna, Austria.

Her academic background is international law and the area of interest is domestic application of international law, with a focus on the rights of minorities and other disadvantaged groups.

Ms. Ito has LL.B. in International Legal Studies from Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan, M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago and LL.M. from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley.


Pinky Mehta

Associate, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Specialization: International Arbitration, Litigation and Arbitration

J.D., University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Haverford College


Dr. Ariel Meyerstein

Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Program Citi

Dr. Ariel Meyerstein Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Program Citi Dr. Meyerstein works in Citi’s Sustainability team, helping to lead the development of policy frameworks and risk management approaches to human rights and sustainability issues across the bank’s portfolio. Meyerstein has served on a number of advisory committees to various U.S. executive branch agencies, including as business Vice-chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Board to the State Department’s U.S. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Labor Provisions in Free Trade Agreements. He served as an advisor to the U.S. Employers’ delegation to the International Labour Conference from 2014-2016 and has also participated in several multistakeholder advisory groups at the OECD aimed at developing responsible business conduct guidance documents in different sectors, including finance. He was elected a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2016 and is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the Ethics Alliance. Prior to joining Citi, Meyerstein led multilateral organization policy engagement on business and human rights issues for the United States Council for International Business, where he also launched the Business for 2030 portal on business engagement in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to USCIB, Meyerstein developed expertise in public and private international law while working in international dispute resolution for global law firms and in international courts and tribunals, including the U.N. ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, as well as for NGOs, including the UK-based Reprieve and the Crimes of War Project. He is a frequently invited speaker on business and human rights issues, has published several articles and book chapters on various aspects of human rights law, including its intersection with finance, and teaches business and human rights as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law. He received his law degree and PhD in Jurisprudence & Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and has a B.A. from Columbia University in English & Comparative Literature with a concentration in Human Rights.


Sarah Paoletti

Practice Professor of Law

Sarah Paoletti directs the Transnational Legal Clinic, the law school’s international human rights and immigration clinic. Students enrolled in the clinic represent individual and organizational clients in a myriad of cases and projects that require them to grapple with international and comparative legal norms in settings that cut across borders, legal systems, cultures, and languages.  Paoletti’s research focuses on the intersection of human rights, migration, and labor law, and she has presented on this theme before the United Nations and the Organization of American States. She also works closely with advocates seeking application of international human rights norms in the United States.  Her recent scholarship includes: “Transnational Approaches to Transnational Exploitation: A Proposal for Bi-National Migrant Rights Clinics,” 30 University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 1171 (Summer 2009), and “Redefining Human Rights Lawyering Through the Lens of Critical Theory: Lessons for Pedagogy and Practice,” 18 Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law & Policy 337 (2011) (co-author).


Nicola Port

Senior Vice President & International Counsel, Global Legal, Chubb

Nicola is a Senior Vice President and International Counsel at Chubb, a diversified insurer and reinsurer with operations in all 50 US states and 54 countries around the world.  She reports to the Chubb General Counsel and provides counsel on international legal matters and regulatory affairs, including cross-border and multi-jurisdictional activities, and serves as the principal legal advisor to the Global Chief Compliance Officer. She is also responsible for providing leadership and advice regarding laws and regulations governing trade sanctions, foreign corrupt practices and money laundering.  Prior to joining Chubb in August 2012, Nicola spent over a decade as an attorney with the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she worked out of several of the firm’s offices both in the US and abroad and her practice focused almost exclusively on cross-border matters in areas of international litigation and arbitration, and global regulatory affairs.  She holds law degrees from Columbia University and Zurich Law School, and is admitted to the New York and Zurich bars.


Ursula Wynhoven

Chief, Social Sustainability, Governance and Legal for the United Nations Global Compact

Ursula Wynhoven is the Chief, Social Sustainability, Governance and Legal for the UN Global Compact, the UN’s corporate sustainability initiative. She is a member of the office’s Executive Team, leading legal affairs and compliance and the UN Global Compact’s governance and social sustainability platforms and workstreams, including on human rights and decent work, gender equality, poverty and inequality, peace, anti-corruption and the rule of law. Ursula began working with the UN Global Compact in 2002 and as one of the earliest staff members has played an active role in helping to grow the initiative to more than 13,000 signatories in more than 160 countries with a full roster of workstreams advancing virtually all aspects of corporate sustainability. Ursula led the development with UN agency and other partners of many of the platforms and workstreams, including on human rights and labour, women’s empowerment (Women’s Empowerment Principles), business and children (Children’s Rights and Business Principles), indigenous peoples’ rights, and on business and the rule of law (Business for the Rule of Law). Prior to joining the UN, Ursula worked in law firms and government human rights agencies in Australia and the US and worked for the OECD in Paris on the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the OECD’s corporate responsibility initiative. Ursula has Masters of Law degrees from Columbia Law School, where she was a Human Rights Fellow, and Monash Law School in Australia. She also has Bachelors degrees in Law, Economics and Letters. She is admitted to practice law in jurisdictions in Australia, the US (California) and the UK. Since 2007, Ursula has been an Adjunct Professor in Corporate Sustainability, Business and Human Rights at Fordham Law School in New York and previously taught at the Reykjavik University School of Law. Ursula is a Trustee of the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law at Columbia Law School and a Girl Scout troop leader.