Professor Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center, is currently in Stockholm, Sweden serving as the moderator for the annual conference “Developing a Human Rights Toolbox – An International Session for Practicing Lawyers.” Attorneys from around the world participate in the conference to discuss international human rights law and how to pursue and promote human rights when they return to their home countries.
“The ‘Developing a Human Rights Toolbox’ workshop for practicing lawyers from developing countries is an innovative initiative operated as a joint venture between the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and Mannheimer Swarling, the leading business law firm in Sweden,” said Rolf Ring, deputy director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and one of the conference organizers. “The collaboration is an effort to merge the extensive practical experience of a law firm that has a demonstrated commitment to human rights with RWI’s experience in development cooperation and expertise in the international system for the protection of human rights.
“Cliff Johnson from the MacArthur Justice Center, previously a Fulbright Scholar at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, has over the past eights years been instrumental in coaching and inspiring the participants and sharing his vast practical experience when it comes to litigation.”
Issues such as the right to fair trials, corporate social responsibility, prohibitions on torture and unlawful detention, and freedom of expression are discussed. This year, participants hail from China, Iran, Mongolia, Turkey, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Thailand.
“The opportunity to delve into both theoretical and practical aspects of human rights advocacy with lawyers from around the world really is a gift,” said Johnson. “I always return home with renewed passion for the work we do at the MacArthur Justice Center and newfound appreciation for the opportunity to work within a legal system where civil rights advocacy can result in meaningful change.
“I often am frustrated by the difficulty of winning the cases we handle, but sitting down to dinner with lawyers from China, Iran, and Vietnam and hearing about the challenges they face reminds me that ‘difficulty’ is relative. It is one thing to worry about an unfavorable ruling from a judge, but it is quite another thing to fear that your advocacy could get you arrested – or worse.”