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Weekly Speaker Series: Decolonizing Human Rights: Sovereignty, Tactics & Disruption

Decolonizing Human Rights: Sovereignty, Tactics & Disruption
March 28, 2017 12:30PM – 1:30PM
Location: Room 3-09, Fordham Law School, 150 W. 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023
Contact: LeitnerCenter@law.fordham.edu

Speaker: Kayum Ahmed, Doctoral Fellow, Teachers College, Columbia University and Adjunct Lecturer, Columbia Law School

While human rights offer the possibility for emancipation and justice, it remains a colonized field. The violent birth and sovereign nature of human rights is intrinsically linked to the colonial project. At the same time, human rights are employed as tactics to claim certain protections within existing legislative frameworks. This friction between human rights as sovereignty and human rights as tactics, flows directly from the violent colonial substructure that continues to shape human rights discourses. Consequently, in order to draw on human rights as a source of emancipation, human rights must itself be emancipated – it must be decolonized. Kayum Ahmed will discuss the decolonization of human rights in the context of sovereignty, tactics, and disruption.

Kayum Ahmed currently serves as a doctoral fellow in international and comparative education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and as an adjunct lecturer at Columbia Law School. Before joining Columbia University, Kayum served as Chief Executive Officer of the South African Human Rights Commission from 2010 to 2015. During this period, he led a team of 178 colleagues to monitor, protect and promote human rights in South Africa, and oversaw the management of nearly 45,000 human rights cases. Kayum is the recipient of various awards and scholarships including the Nelson Mandela Scholarship (Leiden University), Commonwealth Scholarship (University of Oxford), and the Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans Award. He holds various degrees in law (LL.B.), anthropology (M.A.) and public international law (LL.M.). More recently, he completed a third masters degree in international human rights law (MS.t.) at the University of Oxford. Just before relocating to New York and in anticipation of his existential (read: mid-life) crisis, Kayum and his amazing wife travelled across the African continent from Cairo to Cape Town over nearly 100 days.

Kosher pizza will be served.

Brown Bag Lunch Series

Photo credit: Creative Commons/ElizalO

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Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
Fordham University School of Law
150 West 62nd Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10023 USA

Email: LeitnerCenter@law.fordham.edu
Telephone: 212.636.6862
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Clinical Professor of Law
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