Winners of the Essay Contest, along with other selected participants, are invited to present their papers during the Human Rights Essay Colloquium. The colloquium, which takes place each spring semester, is an opportunity for students to present human rights papers and engage in open and lively discussion with other students and faculty members.
View all past Essay Contest winners below. Click on the winner to see their paper abstract.
School of General Studies, Undergraduate
The Detroit City Water Shutoffs: Volatile Possibilities and Complexities of Powerlessness for Human Rights of the Present
Columbia College, Undergraduate
Patterns and Advantages of Community-Based Resistance to Land Grabs in Madagascar and Ghana: What Lessons can be Learned for Sub-Saharan Africa as a Whole?
In this paper, I identify patterns of community-based resistance to land grabs by looking at two cases of successful resistance – resistance to the 2007 BioFuel Africa deal in Ghana and resistance to the 2008 Daewoo Logistics deal in Madagascar. I argue that community-based resistance is important because land grabs have severe negative effects on the local population, including dispossession of land, food and water insecurity, and lack of compensation; because the current drivers of the land grabbing phenomenon will continue to drive land grabs in the future, including food insecurity in wealthy developed nations, demand for biofuels, speculative investing in land, and FDI-attractive reforms in host countries; and because nascent top-down remedies for populations affected by land grabs, including international monitoring, host government regulation of foreign land investors, and transnational legal action, are not able to address the land grabbing phenomenon in a timely manner. The patterns of community-based resistance that I identify are the importance of individual leadership, NGOs, and dissemination of information in mobilizing the population against a land grab. These will be important in mobilizing resistance to the growing threat of land grabs.