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Symposium: Counterterrorism, Electoral Politics, and Human Rights presented by the Alison L Des Forges Memorial Committee

April 27, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

The Alison Des Forges Memorial Committee invites you to an International Symposium on “Counterterrorism, Electoral Politics, and Human Rights”

We like to view counterterrorism as an essential policy to keep innocent people safe, and electoral politics as a way to protect human rights. Yet, counterterrorism measures can result in immigration policies and military tactics that violate human rights, and elections and referenda may provide opportunities for racist demagoguery, nativist discrimination, and violence against civilians. This symposium will explore these counterintuitive relationships, and seek ways to mitigate the unwanted side effects resulting from such policies and institutions.


9:00 | Registration and Welcoming Remarks

9:30-11:00 | Africa

  • “Human Rights in the Context of Elections in Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda”
    Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director, Amnesty International (via Skype)
  • “International Responses to Human Rights Crises in Sudan and Southern Sudan”
    Jehanne Henry, Senior Researcher, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch
  • “Political Process, Inclusion and Citizen Satisfaction with Governance in West Africa”
    Ryan Dalton, Program Officer, Central and West Africa, National Democratic Institute

11:00-12:00 | Lunch

12:00-1:30 | Europe

  • “Recasting Refugees as Terrorists: Populist Exploitation of the National Security Narrative in European Electoral Politics”
    Julia Hall, Expert on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Amnesty International
  • “European Complicity in U.S. Drone Attacks and Mass Surveillance”
    Eric Topfer, Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor, German Institute for Human Rights
  • “Turkey’s AKP after the July 15 Coup Attempt: Moving towards End Game”
    Howard Eissenstat, Associate Professor, St. Lawrence University

2:00-3:30 | United States

  • “National Security and Human Rights in the U.S.”
    Naureen Shah, Director, Security with Human Rights, Amnesty International
  • “U. S. Counterterrorism and Human Rights Post Presidential Election”
    Laura Pitter, Senior U.S. National Security Counsel, Human Rights Watch
  • “National Security and Recent Changes in U.S. Immigration Policy”
    Nicole Hallett, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Community Justice Clinic, University at Buffalo School of Law

3:30-4:00 | Wrap-Up General Discussion

All events are free and open to the public

Sponsors: Alison Des Forges Memorial Committee; University at Buffalo Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, Community for Global Health Equity, Department of Comparative Literature, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Department of History, Humanities Institute, James Agee Chair in American Culture, Department of Philosophy Samuel P. Capen Chair, Department of Political Science, and Office of the Vice Provost for International Education

This symposium honors the life and work of human rights advocate Alison Des Forges. For more information, please email Roger Des Forges at, Ellen Dussourd at or Shaun Irlam at


April 27, 2017
9:00 am - 4:00 pm


Alison Des Forges Memorial Committee


Capen 107 (Inside the Silverman Library)
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260 United States
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