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2015 Human Rights Conference Materials: Development without Freedom?


NYU DRI, the Bard College Human Rights Project, and the Rift Valley institute warmly invite you to a conference on justice, human rights, and foreign aid in Africa.

Thursday, April 16, 2015
8:30am – 4:30pm
The Grand Hall, NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, 5th floor
238 Thompson Street, New York City

Register Here

The international community, mainly the OECD countries, have been providing project-specific foreign aid, investment and general budget support to the governments of African countries. This funding helped improve many development indicators on the continent, yet fundamental values of freedom and democracy that the giving nations profess are often dismissed. Government forces have imprisoned, tortured, exiled, and even taken the lives of their critics. In rural areas across Africa, people have been displaced, making way for development projects that often fail to bring promised benefits.

What are the consequences of these rights abuses for long-term development in Africa? What is the role of development agencies and foreign investors in ensuring that recepient governments make progress on human rights and justice? The conference will explore research findings on these questions and feature dissenting voices that do not often receive a hearing in international development forums.

Conference Agenda:

8:30am: Registration and Coffee

9:00am: Yaw Nyarko, New York University, Introduction

9:05am: Helen Epstein, Bard College and New York University, “Human Rights Problems in International Development Programs”, Overview of Conference Aims

Session 1: Moderator – Yaw Nyarko, New York University

9:15am: David Pred, Inclusive Development International, “Aiding and Abetting: How the World Bank Enabled Mass Forced Population Transfers in Ethiopia and Evaded Accountability”

9:45am: Frehiywot Samuel, “Not What They Wanted to Hear: A Supreme Court Judge Investigates Post-Election Violence in Ethiopia”

10:15am: Q&A with David Pred and Frehiywot Samuel

10:30am: Coffee Break

Session 2: Moderator – Helen Epstein, Bard College and New York University

10:45am: Soleyana Shimeles Gebremichael, Zone 9 Blogging Group, Ethiopia, “The Cost of Exercising Rights and Bringing Alternative Narration, The Case of Zone 9 Bloggers

11:15am: Stefan Dercon, University of Oxford, “Barking Hyenas, Roaring Lions and Predatory Tigerfish: Aid in Troublesome Places”

11:45am: Q&A with Soleyana Shimeles Gebremichael and Stefan Dercon

12:00pm: Lunch

 Session 3: Moderator – William Easterly, New York University

1:30pm: Jean Ensminger, California Institute of Technology, “Aid Fraud: A Kenyan Case Study”

2:00pm: Godber Tumushabe, Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, “The Tragedy of Aid in Quasi-Democracies: Case Study of the Peace, Reconciliation and Development Program in Northern Uganda”

2:30pm: Q&A with Jean Ensminger and Godber Tumushabe

2:45pm: Coffee Break

 Session 4: Moderator – John Ryle, Rift Valley Institute

3:00pm: Mareike Schomerus, London School of Economics and Political Science, “The Betrayal of ‘South Sudan’: Could Development Work without Imagining the State?”

3:30pm: Hugh Roberts, “South Sudan: A Dream Deferred”

4:00pm: Q&A with Mareike Schomerus and Hugh Roberts.

Funding for the event has been generously provided by the John Templeton Foundation. Breakfast and lunch will be served.