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Reviving Human Rights

In an era in which they are under threat, Fletcher’s Hurst Hannum advocates a focus on essential human rights to achieve more progress

Years ago, Hurst Hannum was working with an American indigenous rights lawyer who was advocating recognition of his people’s human rights by the United Nations. At one point, the colleague turned to Hannum “and said, only half-jokingly, that ‘at least they are not killing us now.’”

That may not sound like much progress. But for Hannum, it was a telling statement about the pace of change. Indigenous people around the world have been ignored and mistreated for centuries, but in the past several decades their rights have been better protected than ever before. Much remains to be done, he said, but the point is “that human rights successes come gradually and are fully realized only when governments accept responsibility for their people’s rights and welfare.”

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