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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Civil Society Under Fire

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Session Description

Suspicious of foreign intervention and protective of power, governments have begun cracking down on foreign funding to civil society organizations, cutting off support for critical human rights groups in Russia, China, India, and beyond. This session will examine the closing space for civil society in different regional contexts, and highlight organizations adapting to this new normal with innovative approaches to survive—and even thrive. We’ll ask how social advocacy groups in countries with emergent fault lines can learn from their global peers.

When | Where

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM Thursday, April 6 Lecture Theatre 4


Panel Discussion

Session leaders

  • David Bishop Speaker
    Principal Lecturer, University of Hong Kong
    David Bishop is a Principal Lecturer at the University of Hong Kong and Fudan University, Shanghai. He has broad legal experience in the United States and across Asia, particularly China. Mr. Bishop's teaching focuses on a wide range of legal, ethics, and social enterprise related matters. His Social Venture Management Internship Program at HKU is one of the largest social enterprise internship programs in Asia, and has successfully aided and incubated multiple high-profile, early stage social enterprises. Mr. Bishop is also the founder or co-founder of multiple social businesses in Hong Kong, including Soap Cycling, a company recycling used hotel soap to enhance the lives of disadvantaged communities around Asia, and Fair Employment Agency, an employment agency focused on overcoming the exploitation of migrant laborers.
  • Edwin Rekosh Moderator
    Director of Human Rights Initiatives, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
    Ed is director of human rights initiatives and visiting professor of law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he oversees the overall growth of Cardozo’s human rights program, including the development of an initiative — Human Rights Forward — to create new solutions for combating suppression of civil society groups and advancing human rights. He also teaches human rights and international development. Prior to taking up his post at Cardozo School of Law, Ed served as the president & CEO of PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law, an organization which he founded in 1997 to develop global resources and networks in support of local human rights advocacy around the world. In that capacity, he trained and mentored hundreds of human rights lawyers in dozens of countries, helped spur the adoption of clinical legal education in Europe, and was a leader in the global growth of pro bono practice. He continues to serve PILnet as a senior advisor. Ed has pioneered innovative human rights initiatives in China, and in over 30 other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. He lived in Romania and Hungary for ten years assisting the development of human rights groups there and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe as new constitutional orders emerged. Ed teaches on the adjunct faculty at Columbia Law School and has been a visiting professor at Central European University. Prior to founding PILnet, he consulted for the Ford Foundation, worked for the International Human Rights Law Group (Global Rights), practiced law at Coudert Brothers and co-founded the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Ed has written and spoken extensively about human rights, pro bono and the rule of law, and he received the American Bar Association's International Human Rights Award in 2009. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia Law School.
  • Karen Tse Speaker
    Karen Tse, Skoll Awardee, founded International Bridges to Justice in 2000. An international human rights lawyer, ordained minister and former San Francisco public defender, Karen first developed her interest in the nexus of criminal law and human rights in 1986, after witnessing Southeast Asian refugees detained in a local prison without trial. In 1994, she moved to Cambodia to train the country’s first core group of public defenders and subsequently served as a United Nations Judicial Mentor. Karen formed IBJ after witnessing hundreds of prisoners of all ages being held without trials, usually after being tortured into making 'confessions’. IBJ is creating the conditions for a “new normal in justice” in which citizens will have access to justice and ending the use of torture as an investigative tool. IBJ now has a presence in over 47 countries, with permanent country programs in 11 countries. Over 18 years, IBJ has supported more than 30,000 lawyers and defenders who have represented more than 220,000 detainees. IBJ has also reached over 25 million people through rights awareness campaigns around the world. Working globally both on the ground and online, IBJ has an active online presence through Criminal DefenseWiki pages for 87 countries and 152 eLearning modules for over 20 countries, with over 15 million hits for both platforms combined since its creation. Karen is a graduate of UCLA Law School and Harvard Divinity School. Among others, Karen is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Innovation, the American Bar Association Human Rights Award and named as one of America’s best leaders by the US News and World Report. To learn more about Karen’s work and International Bridges to Justice, please watch her TEDTalk (
  • Poonam Joshi Speaker
    Director of European Office, Sigrid Rausing Trust
    Poonam Joshi is the Executive Director of the Trust. She has over 20 years' experience of working on a range of human rights issues. Prior to joining the Trust, Poonam was the Director of the European Office for Trust grantee the Fund for Global Human Rights, where she was also responsible for work on the enabling environment for civil society. Between 2010 and 2012 Poonam worked as a consultant to the Sigrid Rausing Trust, where she was Acting Director of the Women’s Rights programme and from March 2011 developed the Trust’s new grantmaking strategy for the Middle East and North Africa. She also worked for seven years with Amnesty International UK’s women’s rights programme, where she represented AIUK as a gender expert on a range of issues including political participation in Egypt and Libya, human trafficking in the UK, religious fundamentalism, and counter-terrorism. Poonam is a qualified solicitor, and began her career as a family and criminal legal aid lawyer in London. She holds a Masters in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BA in English from Oxford University.