The two-day Centennial Conference on International Human Rights focuses on two distinct but related areas, “Implementing Human Rights in Massachusetts: Legislative Strategies & Responsibilities” on Thursday, April 26, 2007, and “Hidden Epidemic: Child Sex Trafficking” on Friday, April 27.

The International Human Rights conference will gather NGO specialists, activists, law professors and politicians in Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., boston

Student involvement

The idea of a conference day focusing on child sex trafficking came from students who had seen the film The Day My God Died in Professor Kate Nace Day’s Gender and the Law class. The film profiles Maiti Nepal, an organization that helps the victims of sex trafficking.

Day’s class includes an empowerment component, and students Abby Rothberg and Meghan Grummer changed their project after they saw the film.¬†

“We were so disgusted about the issue of sex trafficking and impressed with the work of Maiti Nepal that we wanted to do a fundraiser and raise awareness as part of our final project,” said Rothberg, president of the Suffolk Public Interest Law Group.

“This conference shows how much is possible when women act on behalf of other women,” said Day, who approached Advanced Legal Studies Director Carole Wagan about a conference that would demonstrate what women can do from the bottom up.

The National Women Law Students' Association, or NWLSA, also got involved to raise interest, raise awareness and raise money to take care of the women and children who are the subject of the film.

The Massachusetts model

“It is really only possible to mount this seminar here in Massachusetts, close to the State House, because of the commonwealth's very positive human rights record,” said Laura H. Roskos, activist in residence with Suffolk’s Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, which is organizing the day focused on implementation¬†

“The commonwealth has been a national leader in employing human rights standards to guide its financial development and investment strategies.”

She pointed out that the state’s human rights record is superior to that of the United States as a whole, even though the Massachusetts Code makes no explicit mention of international human rights standards.