April 18, 2016 - Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution Activist Joshua Wong spoke at New York University about the foundation of the student activist group Scholarism in 2011, which was heavily involved in the protests against the introduction of Moral and National Education into Hong Kong school curricula in 2012. He also spoke about the Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests of 2014. Joshua Wong was one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014 and one of Fortune Magazine's World's 50 Greatest Leaders of 2015. He is a founder of the political party Demosisto, which is expected to contest the upcoming Hong Kong Legislative Council elections in September 2016.
On Saturday, April 9, 2016 the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School hosted a meeting between Jenny Yang, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Aaron Halegua, a research fellow at the Institute, and several leading Chinese anti-discrimination advocates. Chair Yang introduced the structure of EEOC and the many functions it performs, including investigating claims of discrimination, collecting data from employers, issuing guidance documents, and litigating cases in federal court. The participants also discussed various forms of discrimination that are found in both countries, such as discrimination based on sexual orientation, pregnancy, and disability, as well as strategies for combating discrimination.
On Thursday, April 7, 2016 USALI hosted Fabian Duessel, a research fellow at the Chair of Constitutional Law, Public International Law and Human Rights Law at the University of Tuebingen. The aim of this presentation is to assess to what extent Sir Hersch Lauterpacht’s revolutionary work, An International Bill of the Rights of Man, published in 1945, may be applicable to the 21st century Asian context. Lauterpacht’s book was written at a time when the notion of international human rights protection was in its infancy. However, his analysis proved to be an invaluable handbook for architects of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Two points are of special interest. First, Lauterpacht strategically situated his project within Western notions of the law of nature, natural rights and international law. He also specifically addressed difficulties presented by particular constitutional cultures, such as the uncodified British constitution. Similarly, one must consider to what extent an Asian human rights mechanism may be dependent on specific philosophical legacies and constitutional peculiarities in the region. Second, Lauterpacht strongly argued against the use of a system of international judicial review, and thus did not support the establishment of a purely international judicial enforcement mechanism. His thoughts on enforcement may thus be of value in the current Asian political context, where flexibility and elasticity may be more appropriate.
Without ignoring recent international, regional and sub-regional developments, it is hoped that by “going back to basics”, applying the most fundamental principles to the contemporary context, progress can be made in furthering international human rights protection in Asia.
Fabian Duessel is currently a research fellow at the Chair of Constitutional Law, Public International Law and Human Rights Law at the University of Tuebingen. He holds an LL.B. from the London School of Economics (2010) and is currently an LL.M. candidate at the University of Tuebingen. He also holds an M.A. in Governance from the University of Hagen (2015). At the University of Tuebingen he regularly teaches UK public law (since 2012) and occasionally gives lectures on public international law (since 2014). As visiting scholar at National Taiwan University he co-taught an intensive course on international human rights law with Prof. Jau-Yuan Hwang (2014) and Prof. Jochen von Bernstorff (2015). At the 6th Asian Constitutional Law Forum (2015), held at the National University of Singapore, he presented a paper comparing regional human rights protection in Europe and Asia. He is particularly interested in the development of constitutionalism and human rights in East Asia. His other research interests include international organisations and global governance. Having lived extensively in the UK, Germany and Taiwan, he speaks fluent English, German and Mandarin.