We're very lucky today to have Helen Stacy with us. She teaches at the law school at Stanford and also runs the human rights program at Stanford. Thanks, Anne. And thanks for your course here at Stanford. I can testify to the number of Stanford students who see your course as an entry to work in human rights either in the workplace or at graduate school. It's been a galvanizing course for many students at Stanford. Your transition, or your progress in this area, mirrors to some extent the general view of what is human rights. From my reading, I see that earlier we thought of human rights as sort of civil rights, or rights of people in prison, or rights that people may have as a result of government action. But I think more now, and I believe the systems have changed over time-- and even the structure of human rights has changed over time-- where we can now look at the human rights of an individual person whether or not that person has been victimized by government. Absolutely. And I think this is particularly relevant to women's rights. Human rights infiltrate every part of human existence. And this is so apparent when-- right now, as you know, I'm working on human trafficking. And I'm working on that initially started in Africa, West Africa. Now I'm working in Asia. But I'm also working on US trafficking. Because it's all connected. Human trafficking is a global problem. Human rights are an issue that are an aspect of every person's life all the time. The higher one is up the economic and social tree. The less one is aware of it. But if one is sick, doesn't have a job, lives in an environment that is unhealthy or unsafe or insecure, then human rights, or the lack of there of, make that person's existence harder and harder. I see life as a social, and economic, and governance pecking order. The higher one is at the top of that order. The less one is even aware of the need to have rights. Because the world makes sure that your rights are taken care of. But the lower down the pecking order one is, the less rights one is able to access whether that's rights to clean water, rights to health, rights to physical safety in one's community from one's family, from one's government, or just the air one breathes, or the lack of clean water. It's all pervasive. One's access to rights and violations of rights are a function of the accident of where one is born and whether you're born a boy or girl. It's really as simple as that. If one knows that rights exist, human rights exist-- we might have heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How do you access those rights? First of all, I'm going to argue with your question. Because human rights don't exist. They're an idea. They're not as tangible is this table. They're a hope for many. And they're a reality for some. They're a political idea and a political ideal that if one understands about a vision of the world where those ideas and ideals are available, then one can hope and aspire to have them. But they're simply an idea. And if one exists in an environment where that idea hasn't arisen, then human rights don't exist. They only exist for those who might want to have them, and for those who do have them, and for systems that, in fact, deliver them. But we live in a time now where most countries in the world, most governments, countries are Members of the United Nations. And the United Nations seems to be the keeper, or the place, where these human rights are held. Articulated. And articulated, yes. So we live in world, you're right, where we have an international system that is the public international legal system which is the system of the United Nations human rights treaties, and the United Nations Declaration on human rights, and the international covenants the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights. And it is the case that most, in fact, all countries of the world-- all 194 now, I think, countries-- Members of the United Nations and have signed on to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and most countries have signed onto those two major Covenants. And many countries of the United Nations have signed on to the nine major international human rights treaties that sit underneath that Declaration and those Covenants. But that doesn't mean that every person, in all of those countries, either knows about those human rights, knows that its government has signed on to those Covenants and human rights treaties, or that those governments that have signed on to those international documents, in fact, is delivering those human rights to people. And there are three main reasons that governments sign on to human rights treaties but don't deliver them. Either they sign on to those human rights treaties but simply have little capacity to cash them out down the line to people who are living down the social and economic pecking order in their country. For example? For instance, India has signed most human rights treaties and covenants In fact I think all. And yet has had to enter reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which requires that every government undertake a census of its people. So that government can have the data how many people it has so that it can then have the data on how many people it needs to deliver health care services to. India is simply so overwhelmed by the number of its population that it had to enter reservation to the census obligation. And say, we can't hold it that regularly because, yes, we need to have that data, but we simply can't afford, because of the numbers of their population, to sign on to the census data. So that's an example where government simply doesn't have capacity to performance its human rights obligations as it should. Another example of that might be a government like Sudan. There's two Sudans, North and South Sudan since they split. South Sudan is so poorly set up with government infrastructure, that whilst it signed on to those treaties, it can't even begin to administer those treaties. Because it just doesn't have enough income revenue from taxation, notwithstanding has oil reserves, to have the government agencies that can then administer those treaties. So that's one category of governments that just don't have the capacity to sign on to human rights treaties. They've signed but they don't-- They've signed on-- --have the capacity to-- But they can't-- --Deliver. Roll it out because they simply don't have the money in the bank to do so. There's a second category of governments that have signed on to human rights treaties. But they've signed on with one hand behind their back with their fingers crossed which means they've signed on not fully intending to cash it out. A good example of those countries might be the post-Cold War and post-colonial governments who feel that, as part of their entry into the post-Cold War system, that they should sign these international treaties. Because it's a signaling mechanism to the rest of the world that says, here we are. We're part of the international system. We want to trade with you. We want to export our goods. And we want to invite international capital into our country. So please come and invest in us. Build your factories. Create your products. By the way, we have low wages over here and lots of population who will work cheaply for you. So come and invest. That doesn't mean they are necessarily going to implement the labor standards that are part of international human rights, International Labor Organization standards. It's really a signaling mechanism to the outside world that's meant to be a smokescreen. And I'm not going to denominate those countries. Because many of those countries are in transition between understanding that they need to introduce those human rights. But as part of their development, they also need capital. So they're playing a very tricky game of trying to improve their post-authoritarian existence for their citizens. But they need capital in order to get that going. And then there are other countries, who sign on to human rights treaties, understand that it's going to take time for it to roll through. Because it requires a certain political process to happen at home. I mentioned two covenants. The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. That Covenant has rights that are non-derogable such as the right of an individual not to be tortured, the right of an individual not to be arbitrarily detained. A government can't choose to overlook those. They're absolute rights that an individual can claim. But governments will find a way of wriggling around that. That's an example of how a government might have signed the covenant and signed the international treaty against torture, but might have introduced, say, a state of emergency in their country. So they're saying, well, we're under state of emergency. And we need that information. There's a ticking time bomb in our country. Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights which is different. These are derogable rights which a country promises to introduce according to their capacity over time. And, in fact, that's where many of the women's and children's rights exist because they're the social rights to health care, to housing, to medical care. And a country says, well, we're going to roll it in according to our capacity over time. And that's where there's so much wriggle room that a government can legitimately, under the international UN infrastructure, say, well, we've signed the treaty. But we haven't really got to it yet. Or we're working towards it. The big change in the last 15 years is that now not only are countries required to report their progress to the UN treaty system, NGOs can now put in parallel reports which point out that whereas the government has written a report that's glass half full, the international world really needs to understand the glass is half empty. And that there's been a highly selective concentration of health care facilities in urban areas rather than rural areas. And this has particular impacts for rural women who are unable to access maternal health care. Because they simply can't make the trek, in a difficult labor, five hours away to the capitol city, across a bumpy road, in the back of a cart. By that time, they have lost their child. And the woman might also be dead. So governments, by dint of being Members of the United Nations and having signed on to these various treaties and conventions, are required to report, you've noted, that they may report-- Yes. --In ways that benefit them. And that NGOs can actually submit additional reports. That's right. Required just because of their membership, required because they want to be good, or be seen, as good global citizens, you're saying. Yes. Yeah. Let's move to talking about the specific conventions that relate to women. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. And the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And there may be other conventions that you know about that relate specifically to women and might relate more directly to our concern with women's health. They're main two. I'll call them the CEDAW convention and CRC convention. There are other treaties such as the treaty against child trafficking. CEDAW is a convention that was passed more recently than many of the other conventions. I think it's important to have a time line here of the international system. The UN Declaration of Human Rights came right after World War II. It was an attempt to incorporate all countries of the world, then very few-- only 57 or so-- into an all encompassing world Global Compact that says every human in the world has rights. And it's the job of governments to give those rights to its citizens. A really noble document-- A wonderful document. --For it's time. Yeah, marvelous. And were it not for Eleanor Roosevelt it really wouldn't have come into being. A noble document that then created 20 years later-- it took 20 years because of the Cold War to have the two international covenants. And then in the '70s and the '80s, as the thaw of the Cold War began very gradually, it became clear that the notion of universal human rights was so structurally unable to deal with the specific problems of demographics that had been so discriminated against for centuries, if not millennia, that those demographics needed particularized human rights treaties. And that's where CEDAW came along. CEDAW came out of the movement in the '70s and the '80s of the second wave of feminism which understood that the structural discrimination against women was so deeply embedded in historical systems that unless there was a specific human rights treaty for women and girls, that the structural disadvantage for women and girls would simply continue to be invisible to us. It's been taken for granted for millennia that women's place is in the home. It wasn't until the 20th century that universal suffrage became an increasing norm, first of all, in the countries in the West and then gradually around the world. Because it was simply taken for granted that men were the creators of the public space and the public sphere. And that men would be in government. And men would be the captains of industry. It wasn't until the '70s and the '80s that the second wave of feminism said, why would it be that if women are considered good enough to vote, they shouldn't also be gaining the same sort of secondary and tertiary education that men have, and owning their own businesses, and running for Congress and parliaments? It's not the case that this is happening. The data tells us it's not. Women are still at home. And women are undertaking the majority of child care and running the home. We need to address this in a full, frontal way. And we need to address this in an international way. And that's how CEDAW came into being. It came out of the second wave of feminism. And under CEDAW, whilst universal rights to education, and health, and voting, and entry into the workplace all existed between the end of the World War and the 1960s when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two covenants were brought into being. Those international documents didn't really change the structural reality that women's place was in the home. And most of the harm to women occurs in the home. It occurs through domestic violence. It occurs because she's not allowed to leave the home and vote. It occurs because she stays at home once she's 12, or 14, or 16 to care for the family rather than continuing her education. It occurs in the home because she's not educated. She then doesn't go out and get a job in the public sphere. She doesn't have access to her income. Even if she does go out and earn outside income, she goes home and she gives it to her father, or her brother, or her husband. So CEDAW draws a line in the sand and says women have the right to vote, to have their own income, to choose their own husband, to choose the spacing of their children, to have access to health care. All of the taken for granted assumptions of universal human rights, but taken for granted in a way that was historically skewed, that it was taken for granted for men but not taken for granted for women and girls. So-- And we might note that it was taken for granted for some kinds of men. Indigenous people were left out. HELEN STACY: Right. And other needs or rights that people with disabilities might need were also not take into account. Indeed. It was taken for granted in the West for white propertied males. So in the United States, until the civil rights movement came along-- and the civil rights movement came along just before the second wave of feminism. There's a deep interconnectedness in the United States between the civil rights movement and the second wave of feminism and then women's rights. But around the world, remember until the '70s and the '80s the post-colonial world was busy replicating the structures of Western misogyny. It was putting men into parliaments. It was putting men as the captains of industries. And it was keeping women at home. So the line in the sand from CEDAW was when? Countries started to sign it needed a certain number of signatures from countries to be passed as a human rights treaty. But it didn't really take off as an international movement until the Beijing Women's Conference which was when all of the women's NGOs of the world came to Beijing ironically. 1994, the conference in Cairo on population and development-- You're exactly right. --There was a major human rights effort by women's groups at that conference. That's right. And language was developed in that declaration. Yes. And then in 1995 was-- Beijing. --The actual United Nations conference on women. Let's focus even more on the conventions and the human rights instruments that relate to women. Can we assume that if someone has signed on to CEDAW-- and have all government signed on to CEDAW? No. No. We might talk a little bit about that and why. And let's also take a moment to talk about the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Because I think it's really important, again, for all children but particularly relating to young girls. That came after the CEDAW convention. And any student of human rights notices the cascade of human rights that are increasingly going from the understanding that universal human rights don't provide the fix. And then there's been a progressive fragmentation of attention to demographics that aren't served by the universal language. CEDAW convention, the rights of the child, then we've had the rights for the disabled after that. The Convention on the Rights of the Child came after CEDAW because it was very clear, from CEDAW, that it was necessary-- urgent-- to really address violations against children, human rights violations against children. And these occur around the world. There isn't a country in the world that is that doesn't do this. But it is particularly bad in countries that have a perception of a child as a guarantee for parental stability in the future because of their work capacity. And it's particularly bad in countries where girl children are considered to be fungible. Girl children are either considered to be an asset to the family only if she can provide labor, first of all, when she's young. Possibly also provide sex either for her family or for those outside the family to bring satisfaction to family members or income into the family by selling her outside the family. And then as she reaches puberty, she then has potential asset value as sale, as a bride outside the family. In societies where there's a bride price, where the bride is supposed to bring assets to another family, she can then be a disability in a family which has too many girl children. So girl children are particularly vulnerable. Children are vulnerable anyway because they make good workers. Whether that's workers in a factory, they can't put up an argument about a 15 hour work day. And they also make very good soldiers, by the way. They're very good at taking direction. It they're Isolated, it's the same occurs in factories. If boys or girls are isolated from their family, and their moral structures, or anybody else who will protect them, they're very good laborers, and very good soldiers. And they're very good concubines. So how has the Convention on the Rights of the Child affected some of these outrages? When governments sign on to CRC, they undertake to institute programs of health, education, housing, a criminal justice system that will prosecute those who hurt children. They promise to divert their public funds into systems that will watch, rectify, and if necessary prosecute the violators of that system. The way it has helped-- and in case you think I'm pessimistic about this, I'm not. No, I was about to ask that actually. I'm optimistic about this. Although I'm a long-term optimist. I'm not a short-term optimist. The way the CRC helps is that it, first of all, raises awareness of governments that they are supposed to be doing these things they've undertaken, in front of the whole international community, that they should do this. But the fact is that it's not until they pass legislation at home that it's going to have any effect on their instructions at home. What happens at home is that community groups whether they're registered as non-government organizations or not, community groups galvanize around this. When women and children learn that these are their rights, then they start to expect them. They expect them from their family. They expect them from their community. They expect them from their government. And they galvanize around it politically. There's been some fascinating studies done by Stanford researchers that shows that the simple act of rights language be incorporated into school curricula, through the dissemination of international groups that go in and assist the construction of school curricula, around the rights of the child that give the language and pictures that say it's inappropriate for a father to cuff his children for infraction in the home. That that child sees a depiction in their school book which says, I have a right not to be hit. That doesn't necessarily mean that the father will stop hitting the child. But it does mean that, in schools, children are learning about rights language. And that in community centers, women are hearing about rights language when they go together and they talk. They hear the nomenclature domestic violence. And they hear the nomenclature assault. And they hear the nomenclature violation of your human rights to bodily integrity. And over time, groups themselves in countries that are experiencing forms of violation-- I'll take the United States or Australia, my own country as an example. When women hear the message that their husbands may not hit them, may not rape them, may not force them to stay at home if they don't want to, and they talk with one another, they galvanize. And they galvanize in such a way that the different pieces of our social and public fabric start to connect the dots. Women's NGOs form. Women's community groups, health groups start to report the cases of harm-- sexual violence, domestic violence, up the chain. Government agencies start to see statistics floating up. And then before you know it, you have a whole map where dots have connected. And it starts to become a public outrage. Actually with this course, there are many people watching right now who, being able to use computer, can go online and find out what their government is doing. Right. In other words, has the government signed on to CEDAW? And most governments have. Though we'll speak a little bit about why one in particular hasn't. But you can go online and find out whether your government has signed and ratified CEDAW or the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And one of the things that we hope students enrolled in this class will do, and this will be laid out on the web page, will be to go into your community and see if you can find an NGO, a group that is working on some of the issues we're talking about and learn what they're doing. And then post that on a forum on this course. A couple more things I'd like to return to. One, the United States is not signed on, or ratified CEDAW or the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Why is that? People wonder why can that be. And women from around the world have asked me about this because though their countries, their governments may have signed on, they find it difficult to advocate for change when, in fact, one of the largest country, leading countries in the world perhaps-- the United States-- has not signed on. So I the real question is what's the group within the United States? What's the demographic within the United States that has resisted signing the treaty? And what is it about the United States participation in all matters international that make it difficult for the United States to sign any treaty? And I'll look at that second question first. Because it's the precondition, if you like, for the CEDAW and the CRC negligence of the United States. The United States has its own constitution. I think now every country in the world has its own constitution. But it's a very old constitution. It's one of the two oldest. The French Constitution and the United States Constitution are the oldest in the world, framed at a time, over 200 years ago, when civil and political rights were the only game in town. And when white propertied men were considered to be the quintessential citizen of the nation state. That excluded everybody else. It excluded women. It excluded indigenous people. It certain excluded anybody who didn't own property. It's an old constitution. And it's an old framing of the world. Over time, the US has gradually amended its constitution to allow African American people to vote, and to allow women to vote. It's changed. What hasn't changed is a United States ambivalence to surrender its own sovereignty to the international system. Because it believes that the US Supreme Court is the apogee, the very tippy top, of what law should pertain in the United States. And depending on the state of international affairs, this is a feeling that is dominant at times more than other times. It's been very dominant in the United States during the Cold War which was the time when the CEDAW convention first bobbed up, you might recollect. And continues to be a strong feeling at times when the US has either international troops abroad or peacekeepers abroad. The concern is that no country in the world should have the right to tell the US military, or its personnel, or the US as a country in its foreign policy what it ought to be doing abroad, offshore. And it certainly shouldn't be telling the US what it should be doing at home. The US takes the view that it has the best legislation in the world, the best justice system in the world. And it doesn't need the rest of the world telling it what to do. To put that into one word, it's about sovereignty. It's about a feeling of national sovereignty and a sense that the US is the best and better than the rest. The way that's cashed out on the CEDAW convention is to say, well first of all, this allergy to signing international human rights treaties. But the specific allergy against signing on to the CEDAW treaty comes out of a feeling of the far right in the United States that takes a very old-fashioned view of family values. It takes a view that women's place is in the home. And that that's a happy place for a man and woman to have a nuclear family, a very specific nuclear family headed by a man who's married to a woman. And that the very best way a family can grow is with the man in the workforce and the woman looking after the children. That's the gloss. The dirty underbelly to that is that there is a strong anti-abortion, pro-life movement in the United States which the conservative arm of politics dares not offend. And that particular pro-life movement has taken exception to the CEDAW treaty because it reads that part of the CEDAW treaty that says a woman has the right to choose how to space her children, and a woman has a right to access to health care to mean that it is pro-abortion. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing in the CEDAW treaty that uses the word abortion. It simply gives a woman choice about how she spaces the children that she chooses to have and provides her with access to health care. It's interesting that the language in the international conventions, to a great extent, is broader, more inclusive than the language in most national governments or regulations. We have to bring this to an end, unfortunately. But I want to thank you so very much for being here. Thanks for taking the time. You're very welcome. Yeah.