Three students from Willamette’s International Human Rights Clinic recently traveled to Belize to research the availability of clean water and sanitation. They used the information they gathered as the basis of a submission to the United Nations on the right to water in Belize.
Students Emily Guildner, McKenzie Harker and Keith Kueny spent a week in the Central American country interviewing shop owners, rural residents and water board council members. Their work will be part of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process, a new mechanism aimed at improving human rights in the U.N.’s 193 member countries. Non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and the countries themselves submit reports to the U.N. every four years on specific human rights issues.
This is was the first time that Willamette clinic students traveled overseas to investigate the issues directly. They received financial aid for the trip from Willamette’s Center for Religion, Law and Democracy and an anonymous donor to the law school.
“For students from the Pacific Northwest to be able to travel and focus on other regions of the world is an important thing,” said Karen Barnett, an adjunct professor in the International Human Rights Clinic who led the trip. “It broadens their horizons.”
In 2010 the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and said both are essential to the realization of all human rights.