Human Rights Fellowship Reflection: Anne Fuchs, Fellowship Years 2010, 2011 and 2012

Anne Fuchs, Assistant Attorney General of Minnesota, began her academic career at the University of St. Thomas pursuing a degree in ‘Philosophy, History, Justice and Peace’, a decision that led her directly to the field of human rights. The knowledge she gained while at St. Thomas, coupled with the positive influence of her parents, who were actively involved in their local community, encouraged Anne to foster a life grounded in social justice activism. It was with this goal in mind that she entered law school at the University of Minnesota and forged a relationship with the Human Rights Center, where she would go on to receive three Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship (UMHRF) grants.

40588_622092834149_539873_nAs a student at the University of Minnesota Law School Anne was inspired by a number of her professors and peers, among them Professor David Weissbrodt, co-founder and co-director of the Law School’s Center for Human Rights. Professor Weissbrodt’s commitment to human rights and the success he achieved in making a career out of his passion greatly encouraged Anne to pursue opportunities when they arose. Following his encouragement, she applied for and was awarded her first UMHRF grant to work with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. The fellowship award funded her work as a legal intern in the Republic of Macedonia, where she was given the opportunity to analyze laws on human trafficking and make recommendations for the Macedonian government based on her comparative analysis. In addition Anne had the opportunity during this time to investigate local prison conditions by interviewing inmates and observing their living conditions.

Following her summer in Macedonia, in 2011 Anne again received funding to participate in the UMHRF program. This time she gained a domestic perspective on human rights issues as she worked in Montgomery, Alabama with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Through writing and research she explored juvenile justice, special education, and civil rights lawsuits. Meanwhile Anne educated and interviewed at-risk youths about civil rights and their experiences in detention centers. From these interviews Anne crafted reports aimed at calling attention to youth being kept in adult facilities.

The positive experiences Anne has gained in Macedonia and Alabama persuaded her to apply for a third UMHRF grant, with which she worked at The Hague in the Netherlands as an independent observer. During this time Anne had the opportunity to take part in the highly publicized trial of former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba. This case represented the first time that the international community tried rape to be considered as a crime of war. Its impact on Anne was substantial. From this experience, coupled with her summers in Macedonia and Alabama, Anne was convinced that she could fulfill her college goal of making an impact on the world through human rights.

Her undergraduate and law school experiences showed Anne different ways she could pursue a career in human rights. Because of that Anne grew to appreciate the breadth of the human rights field, and encourages others to consider the ways in which they can make a difference. She held on to her commitment to human rights and pursued roles explicitly connected to the field.

Today Anne finds that the challenges she faces when addressing human rights issues as a law professional, though frustrating at times, both energize and encourage her. She finds that surrounding herself with like-minded people who are passionate about their cause fuels her own work and helps her during disheartening moments. Her current position working as an agent of public interest as the Assistant Attorney General of Minnesota inspires her as she sees how her work impacts the lives of people in her community. As part of her community involvement Anne advises young people who are curious about a career in human rights to find something they are passionate about.

“You can be working in a soup kitchen or writing a report on human rights abuses and both of these entirely different experiences can contribute to the human rights movement.”

If you’d like to know more about Anne, you can connect with her on LinkedIn at:

www.linkedin.com/pub/anne-fuchs/44/58a/91a

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Prisoners in Their Skin: The Story of Persons with Living with Albinism in East Africa

Do you use sunscreen? Do you go to tanning salons? Has anyone ever told you that you are ‘exotic’? Humphrey Fellow Alice Kimani will bring a new perspective to these seemingly innocuous questions when she presents “Prisoners in Their Skin: The Story of Persons with Living with Albinism in East Africa” on Wednesday, February 12 at the University of Minnesota Law School.

In her presentation, Ms. Kimani will discuss the social stigma surrounding persons living with albinism in East Africa, as well as the human rights concerns that have resulted. Not only do persons with albinism face societal discrimination in areas such as education and employment, but they have also become targets for human organ traffickers.

Ms. Kimani brings a wealth of experience and expertise from her extensive work on the issue of human trafficking.  Prior to her Humphrey Fellowship, she was the Regional Policy, Liaison and Reporting Officer for International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also worked with IOM in Tanzania, and is an alumni of the Refugee Service Centre at University of Oxford.

The presentation will be on Wednesday, February 12, from 12:15-1:15 PM in Mondale Hall Room 15. Food will be provided.

Human Rights Presentation: Human Rights in Islam

Please join us tomorrow for a presentation by Humphrey Fellow Mostafa Farrag of Egypt.

Human Rights Presentation: Viresh Bhawra

Please join us on March 11th for a presentation by Humphrey Fellow Viresh Bhawra on Naxalism in India.

Human Rights Presentation: Desmond Kaunda

Please join us on February 25th for a presentation on access to justice and human rights by Humphrey Fellow Desmond Kaunda from Malawi.