National Day of Action in Solidarity with Standing Rock – USF Rallies in Support

On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, the University of San Francisco community under the leadership of student Calina Lawrence held a rally in support of the National Day of Solidarity with Standing Rock (#NoDAPL). Professor Zartner, Chair of the International Studies Department spoke at the event. Below is a transcript of her speech calling for multi-level activism bringing the global and the local together. Thank you to all members of the International Studies community who came out to support this effort!

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The Local-Global Connection and International Action in Support of Standing Rock

By Dana Zartner, International Studies Department

There are National Day of Action events happening in all 50 states today. This morning in San Francisco, there was a sunrise vigil at City Hall. People are standing up to recognize the inherent inequities and unlawfulness happening in North Dakota. For the Standing Rock Sioux and all the other Native American nations, this fight is nothing new. They have been fighting these violations of their rights, culture and land for centuries. But I think what we are seeing in the last few months, indeed the last few days, is the recognition that this is a fight they should not be in alone. And today I want to talk about this fight and activism and why what is happening at Standing Rock is a seminal moment – for Native American nations, but also for peoples around the world.

Standing Rock and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a global issues and it has generated support from all corners of the world. It exemplifies the multi-level activism that I think is so important in today’s world. Activism happens at many levels, and we must use all of these in our fight against injustices and illegal activities like those happening in North Dakota. We know that there has been active negative action on the part of the North Dakota state government, and harmful inaction on the part of the federal government.

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What do we do when we face such obstacles? We do what the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies have done. We turn to the courts. We turn to the media. We organize and protest. And we turn to the global community. In 2016 activism has gone global, and while imperfect, I believe that much action on issues like those at Standing Rock in the years to come will be at the local level buoyed by support from international law, international institutions, and the broader global community.

We need to draw on all the resources available to us. We need to be creative in our activism. We need to look beyond our borders and seek allies and ideas and new mechanisms to fight for the rights of all peoples. There is much criticism of the international system of laws and institutions as being ineffectual, and in many ways it is. It is not a global government in the way we have state governments. But we know, in situations like Standing Rock, having a state government with laws and a police force doesn’t always mean that laws and rights are protected. Turning to the global offers support in different ways: giving added legal weight to the violations occurring, offering global protest that pressures multinational corporations and other investors, ‘naming and shaming’, offering on the ground protections, and creating pressures of potential punishment through supranational forums.

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We know the numerous human rights violations, recognized not only in our domestic law but in international law to which the U.S. is obligated, are occurring at Standing Rock:

  • Right to Clean Water
  • Right to Cultural Heritage
  • Right to Cultural Land
  • Right to Equal Protection of the Laws
  • Right to Freedom of Expression
  • Right to be free from Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • The right to prior informed consent
  • The right to a thorough environmental impact statement

Emphasizing the international and universal nature of these rights provides extra emphasis to domestic laws, and has been used effectively by peoples around the world who have gone through, or are going through, situations similar to what is happening at Standing Rock – communities along the Amazon, the Mekong, The Congo. The Brahmaputra, and many others around the world are facing the same struggles for clean water and cultural preservation and they have used international laws and institutions in the absence of support from their state governments to fight for their land, their culture and their rights.

Just a few days ago, Grand Chief Edward John, an Expert Member with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues visited Standing Rock and issued conclusions confirming the violations of numerous international human rights by both the companies involved, and the local and state law enforcement agencies. He was joined by a member of the International Indian Treaty Council. It is also likely that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will visit soon, after calling on the US to halt construction.

What does this mean for a country that has a reputation for ignoring the UN? While it may not mean sanctions or removal from positions of influence, it does shine a light on what is happening in North Dakota. ‘Naming and Shaming’ can have an impact on states and their behavior. And this impact can come in a variety of ways.

For example, global protests over the issues at Standing Rock can impact the companies supporting this action. Reaching out to the global community, ensuring Standing Rock is on the front page of newspapers and social media in countries around the world, creates global networks of advocates who can have a powerful impact on companies or investors. After protests in Norway, including a sit in at the bank’s headquarters, the DNB bank (Norway’s largest, which has given $120 million to Bakken Pipeline, and $460 million in credit lines to companies with ownership stakes, including Energy Transfer Partners), has announced it is conducting its own objective and fact-based evaluation of how the Standing Rock’s Sioux rights are being treated.

Amnesty International has also sent a team to Standing Rock to investigate human rights abuses under the ICCPR and CAT, two treaties to which the US is a part and which can therefore be used in court cases in US courts. These visits can not only shine a light, but also serve as an additional layer of protection for the people on the ground. One protector interviewed by Amensty said that government and company fly-overs of the camp and harassment decrease when groups like the UN or Amnesty or on the ground.

This international attention can also have an impact in building a record of violations that may be able to be used in the future. The Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court recently stated that they will “give particular consideration” to prosecuting crimes involving “the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land.”

While the U.S. is not a party to the Court, Canada is and Canada’s largest pipeline company, Enbridge, recently became a joint stakeholder in 49% of the DAPL. And there are other investors from other countries such as Japan, the UK, and France who are also members of the ICC. The threat of these kinds of cases being filed in a global forum can be a deterrent to CEOs and other individuals and impact their support of actions such as the Dakota Access pipeline.

The main point I want to make with these examples is that we need to go global in our activism. Last year I attended the annual meeting of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As is often true with these global events, the real work was done in the hall ways and the coffee bar where representatives from indigenous groups and rights groups from around the world connect, share stories and strategies and come together to realize they are not alone.

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I haven’t been out to Standing Rock, and I am sure those who are camped there facing the onset of the North Dakota winter and an increasingly hostile and armed corporation, do feel alone. As allies of those at Standing Rock and of all indigenous peoples around the world fighting for their rights, their culture, their sacred space, and water – on behalf of themselves and all people of the world, it is up to us to do what we can to let them know they are not alone. What we can each contribute may be different, but it is up to us to contribute what we can. Use your strengths, dedicate your heart, release your passion. Stand with Standing Rock, in spite of the obstacles,

Water is Life. Mni Wiconi.

Faculty Friday: Stephen Zunes

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

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Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies. Since first coming to USF in 1995, he has taught courses on the politics of Middle East and other regions, nonviolence, conflict resolution, U.S. foreign policy, and globalization for the Politics department, BAIS, MAIS, and the minors/concentrations in Peace & Justice Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. He received his BA from Oberlin College in 1979 and spent his first few years after college in Philadelphia, Washington and Boston working various odd jobs for pay while engaging in political organizing and free-lance journalism.  Eventually, he received his MA from Temple University in Political Science in 1984 and his PhD from Cornell University in Government in 1990. Prior to coming to USF, he served on the faculty at Ithaca College, Whitman College and the University of Puget Sound and directed a small policy institute in the Seattle area focusing on U.S. Middle East policy.

Currently, Professor Zunes serves as a writer and senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus (part of the Institute for Policy Studies), an associate editor for Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and a member of the academic advisory council of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)

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A prominent specialist on U.S. Middle East policy and strategic nonviolent action, Prof. Zunes has presented numerous lectures and conference papers in the United States and over a dozen foreign countries. His travels have taken him to 75 nations, including trips to the Middle East and other conflict regions, meeting with prominent government officials, scholars and dissidents, making him persona non grata in a number of authoritarian states. He has served as a political analyst for local, national, and international radio and television; a writer for the Huffington Post, Truthout, Alternet, Open Democracy, and Common Dreams websites; and currently writes a monthly foreign affairs column for the National Catholic Reporter and a twice-monthly column for The Progressive. He has also published scores of articles in academic journals, anthologies, magazines, and newspaper op–ed pages on such topics as U.S. foreign policy, Middle Eastern politics, Latin American politics, African politics, human rights, arms control, social movements and nonviolent action.

His consistent positions in support of human rights and international law have earned him the wrath of both the right and the far left and arguably receives more Internet hits than any USF professor, not all of them positive.

Since coming to USF, he has enjoyed a number of short-term academic appointments, including serving as a research associate for the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz; a visiting professor for the International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Jaume I University in Spain; and, most recently, a visiting research professor at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

He has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at Dartmouth College, a Human Rights Fellowship at the Center for Law and Global Justice at the USF, and a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies, as well as research grants through the Institute for Global Security Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the International Resource Center. He was the recipient of the 2015 Dean’s Scholar Award from USF’s College of Arts and Sciences and, in 2002, he won recognition from the Peace and Justice Studies Association as their first Peace Scholar of the Year.

Professor Zunes lives in a cohousing community in Santa Cruz with his wife Nanlouise Wolfe and is the father of three children: Shanti (28), Kalila (25), and Tobin (23).

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Faculty Friday: Sana Onayeva

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

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Faculty Profile: Sana Onayeva

Sana Onayeva is an Adjunct Professor in the International Studies Department at the University of San Francisco. Professor Onayeva grew up in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she received her law degree from the University of Kazakhstan. After completing her studies, Professor Onayeva came to the United States to pursue an LL.M degree in International and Comparative Law at George Washington University. Once she received her LL.M she started her international career as a Legal Consultant with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) at the World Bank.

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While with the World Bank, Professor Onayeva worked on various political risk insurance guarantees projects in Latin American, Africa, South-East Asia, Central Asia, Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. One of these projects was working on the first cross-border mortgage-backed securitization in Kazakhstan. Her work on this project contributed to its being awarded a Deal of the Year award from the International Securitization Report. In addition, she represented a MIGA client in an investor-state dispute and participated in the settlement agreement to resolve a complex investment expropriation case between the government of the Kyrgyz Republic and a private investor. Additionally, Professor Onayeva prepared investment risk assessments for more than 100 countries and negotiated and drafted Contracts of Guarantees for MIGA projects.

After fours years as a Legal Consultant, Professor Onayeva decided to return to academia and received her SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) degree from Washington College of Law, American University. Her thesis research was focused on the harmonization of cross-border insolvency proceedings worldwide and the necessity of the enactment of the UNICTRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency in domestic legal systems. In her dissertation she analyzed risks of cross-border investments and the lack of adequate national regulations relating to transnational bankruptcy. After examining the best practices of debt restructuring around the world and conducting a comparative analysis of the UNCITRAL Model Law’s application in various jurisdictions, Professor Onayeva concluded that the enactment of the UNCITRAL Model Law in domestic jurisdictions will secure stability in international cross-border transactions, and also would allow developing countries to offer foreign investors not only a beneficial entry but also a favorable exit.

During her SJD studies, Professor Onayeva was a Dean’s Fellow for the Center on International Commercial Arbitration (CICA) where she worked closely with an international practicing arbitrator, Horacio Grigera Naon. While working in the CICA, Professor Onayeva developed a strong passion for international arbitration. She was a coach for the American University arbitration team that participated in the 4th Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court Competition in March of 2011. The AU team was placed fifth among 27 teams in the competition. In addition she worked for two leading international arbitration firms in Frankfurt, Germany.

She also had a summer traineeship with K&L Gates where her main focus was investment arbitration and where she worked as a Foreign Attorney in the dispute resolution team of Feshfields Brookhaus Deringer, LLP. While at Freshfields, Professor Onayeva mostly worked on commercial and sports arbitration cases. In addition to her main responsibilities, she served as an Assistant to the Arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland where she traveled for sport arbitration hearings.

In her spare time Professor Onayeva plays piano and her favorite composers are Chopin and Beethoven. She enjoys reading history books, Russian, French classical literature and poetry. Professor Onayeva enjoys making desserts and shares her culinary adventures with family and friends. Since she moved from Washington DC, she fell in love with San Francisco and thinks it is one of the most beautiful and vibrant places in the world. She is still discovering for herself the city’s great history, cozy hidden alleys, and amazing restaurants. She is also fond of Argentinean tango and traveling, she just wished she had more time for her free time!

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