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Bernstein Symposium to Focus on Street Activism and Human Rights

Despite the uncertainty of result, spontaneous political mobilization appears to have gone viral. There has been a paradigm shift from a politics of slow, hard-fought change to a politics of uncontainable explosion. The explosions seem to fade quickly, as in the Occupy Movement, or they lead to sustained violence, as in Syria, Libya, and Egypt. It remains to be seen where they will lead in Turkey, Brazil, the Ukraine, and Venezuela.

Bob Bernstein and fellowsThis year’s Bernstein Symposium, to be held at Yale Law School on March 27 and 28, 2014, will center on discussion of “Human Rights in the Streets.”

“The arrival of leaderless politics raises new questions for the human rights community, which has traditionally focused on governmental abuse of power,” said Paul Kahn ’80, Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities and Director, Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights. “Power is on display in the streets as well, and it, too, can be abused. There are frequent reports, for example, of sexual abuse and of sectarian conflict in these popular movements. Apart from opportunistic abuse, there is the deeper question of whether these explosive politics can actually lead to the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

The symposium will feature individual panels of distinguished scholars and advocates discussing the future of dissent, new forms of political leadership, whether violence is inevitable, and whether there is a role for international intervention once politics take to the streets.

The Bernstein Symposium is sponsored by the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship. For the complete program, visit the Bernstein Symposium webpage.