What do you think is the most important human rights issue the next President of the United States will face and what do you think s/he should do about it?


Refugees Under a Trump Presidency

By Ayushi Hegde

My parents landed at O’Hare Airport on October 30, 1992. Carrying with them suitcases gifted by friends and relatives they’d soon forget, a few hundred dollars between them, and my older sister, at that time just an infant, they saw their futures wide and infinite before them. They were hopeful, so they didn’t complain when the Chicago winds struck at their brown faces and hands, or when they crammed themselves into a studio apartment furnished with just a flimsy mattress barely large enough for the three of them, or when they worked long hours night after night. Instead, they worked hard and survived, slowly feeling their way into American society; years later, though, their greatest fear was that the nation would one day reject them.

My parents always ended the story here, leaving me wide-eyed and silent. As a child, I was unable to understand their fears for the future, and when Obama’s election in 2008 promised an American policy of globalism, cooperation, and interconnectedness, I stopped trying to. With time, though, I began to hear the whispers of something darker. I watched as an era of nationalism began to strike out the lights of globalism that had, for years, affirmed my family’s existence half a world away from its ethnic origins. In this sense, the results of the 2016 election proved discouraging, and for many warned of an America built on the nativist and xenophobic rhetoric of his campaign. Regardless of the election’s outcome, though, America’s future remains wide open, and President-elect Donald Trump’s choices regarding immigration into the U.S. will have enormous influence on our country’s future. Specifically, if Trump were to increase the number of refugees admitted into the U.S., he would, on America’s behalf, make strides towards a nation dedicated to the rights of all; he would reaffirm its egalitarian principles, and would help to shape its role on the global stage for years to come.

“Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” (“Refugee and Migrant Rights”). This promise, secured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, today remains as significant as it did second decades ago when the UDHR was drafted. The Syrian refugee crisis, the worst since similar crises following World War II, has placed pressure on wealthy nations like the United States to assume the burden of harboring, in total, an estimated 5 million refugees fleeing unthinkable violence in their homes (“America … ”). At the outset, though, the U.S. has acted slowly, and, as of September 2015, had only resettled about 1,500 Syrian refugees since 2011. Meanwhile, the U.N. High Commission of Refugees has called on the world to collectively resettle 130,000 by the end of 2016 (Blake). At current rates, most of this responsibility will be shouldered by European nations, wealthy and developing alike; Germany alone, a country with one-fourth the population of the U.S., has pledged to take 500,000, while poorer and less developed nations like Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon are facing increased instability and strain on infrastructure with recent influxes of refugees. France, even after 2015’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, will accept 24,000 refugees over a two-year period (Tamerra and Mack). In comparison, the U.S.’s promise seems embarrassingly low, especially given our status as a relatively wealthy first world country. In past major conflicts like this one, we have taken half of the total number of displaced persons, a number higher than those of all other countries combined (Blake). In the past, by acting as a global leader in welcoming those seeking refuge, we have both spurred others to action and become a country characterized by its willingness to protect the rights of those fleeing their homes.

Fear of terrorism, though, has raised concerns towards admission of a mostly Muslim civilian population. These concerns are valid, but in reality, the threat of terrorists among refugees is minimal. The route of refugees into the U.S. is “the most laborious, slow, and heavily scrutinized route into the United States …. The level of risk aversion is so high that people tend to get triply and quadruply scrutinized before they're cleared” (Blake). Incoming refugees must undergo intense background and medical checks by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorism Screening Center, databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense (Gardiner, Sanger, and Herszenhorn). In fact, terrorists entering the U.S. as refugees would be better suited to do so under the guise of immigrants. In addition, concerns that refugees in the United States would contribute to crime, like those cited by President-elect Donald Trump, are based off of occurrences in European countries, where few, if any, such screening processes exist to regulate entry of refugees. In short, additional refugees would serve minimal, if any, threat to our nation’s security. Moreover, it is fundamentally wrong to distrust an entire people based on the actions of a few. Our country’s justice system was founded on the belief that protecting the innocent from punishment is more important than punishing the guilty. Especially when the innocent in question are men, women, and children uprooted from their homeland by war and violence, it is irrational and cruel to distrust them on the basis of their faith. By impeding entry to most Syrian refugees, Trump would be punishing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including “torture survivors, people with special medical needs … women who head households … children”, in fear of crimes that they will not commit (Gardiner, Sanger, and Herszenhorn).

While the 9/11 attacks in 2001 were significant in increasing American awareness of radical Islamic terrorism, they also fueled an era where, for some, the word ‘terror’ has become interchangeable with the word ‘Islam’. Ignorance has kindled a fear of foreigners in a nation that once accepted more than one million Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon. Americans are increasingly turning against immigrants, and it shows in the divided opinions on the Syrian refugee crisis. While it is natural that concerns arise over the threat of terrorism to the U.S., association of all Syrians with terrorism is both uneducated and rooted, however unconsciously, in Islamophobia. History gives us countless examples of the results of division and racism – have we already forgotten slavery, the fight for women’s suffrage, Japanese-American Internment, or the Civil Rights Movement? According to the Wall Street Journal, “ISIS is looking for proof that the West stands against Arabs and Muslims” (Crocker); distrust of immigrants, particularly Muslims, will end in violence on multiple fronts unless Americans learn to accept those who are different from them. Allowing entry of additional Syrian refugees would expose Americans to increased diversity, and would gradually reteach trust and acceptance of both Muslims and foreigners.

And yet, America, once the nation that welcomed immigrants with open arms, has already begun to pull back. Just this November, Donald Trump was elected president; he plans to “prioritize the jobs, wages and security of the American people” and to slash existing plans to admit refugees into the United States, frequently citing the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ (“Immigration”). Trump, though, has a choice. The Obama administration’s extreme caution in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis leaves Trump ample opportunity to shape his own response, one that will undoubtedly serve as precedent for immigration policies in years and presidencies to come. Regardless of the stance he ultimately assumes, Trump will carve out the tone for both the U.S. and the world in response to those forced from their homes. In terms of what that stance will be, to outright stem the flow of refugees into a country as wealthy and developed as ours would quash the hopes of millions who once saw America as the land of opportunity, and would reaffirm the silent fears of people like my parents seeking acceptance in the country they’ve made their home. As the next president of the United States, Donald Trump should work to build a future for more than just those whom he considers “the American people”; Americans can come from any and all corners of the world. Instead, he should continue along the path begun by President Obama, and should increase the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Doing so would embody our nation’s principles of protecting the rights of all, rather than just a select few.


"America Has Accepted 10,000 Syrian Refugees. That's Still Too Few." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 2 Sept. 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016. Blake, Paul. "Migrant Crisis: Can the US Take More than 10,000?" BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation, 11 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 November 2016. Crocker, Ryan C. "The Case for Accepting Syrian Refugees." WSJ. The Wall Street Journal, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 November 2016. Griffin, Tamerra, and David Mack. "Lawmakers Want Bigger Refugee Intake From Syria." BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 November 2016. Harris, Gardiner, David E. Sanger, and David M. Herszenhorn. "Obama Increases Number of Syrian Refugees for U.S. Resettlement to 10,000." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 November 2016. "Immigration." Make America Great Again! | Donald J. Trump for President. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016. "Refugee and Migrant Rights." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.


Congratulations to Andrea Rašovská, a student at the Gymnázium Jana Palacha's in Prague,  Czech Republic:  Andrew Selius of Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, New York; and Michelle Woo a student at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut.   See below for their essays:  Start Telling a Story, The Crisis of Modern Slavery, and The People Who Have No One.  Each of them won a $250 prize in the 2016 Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation's essay contest for high school students.


By Andrea Rašovská

I was actually taken aback by a question posed so directly. I find I do not know how to answer as simply as possible, although I was convinced I knew what the answer should contain. The content of my answer also expands depending on the person to whom the answer pertains, to whom it is posed, and in what country. One thing after another comes to mind, rights give way to feelings and the other way round again in the tangle of ideas. I realize I ought to start sorting those fragments revolving in my mind, and to put a comprehensive picture together.

I start on a general level and divide the question directed at the U.S. president into two parts. Well, Mr. President, I am putting down the first piece of the picture: human rights within the country, rights and freedoms of your own citizens. Everything is affected by ancient history, success and injustice, victories and defeats, boom and decline, and passed on from generation to generation.

That makes the question, and even more so the answer, if there is any.

The Constitution guarantees the rule of law and freedom within the country, and although I do not dare belittle this notion, I voice a lay idea based on reality: the Constitution is one thing, and daily practice is something completely different. I do know that the right to life and safety in the U.S.A. is harshly tested by millions of violent crimes, millions of crimes against property, and paralyzed by the more than 200 million privately held firearms. Personal freedom of citizens, the rule of law needed for one to be able to breathe freely, is strongly restricted by the government itself through substantial restrictions in the form of state of the art monitoring and listening devices. If I add the great material inequality, i.e., the astronomic difference between wealthy and poor Americans, which is the greatest among developed countries in the last twenty years, into the equation, I will hardly reach the desired answer. And I must not forget about discrimination, although I would prefer to shut it out completely. It takes on many forms, Hispanic families, people of colour, African-Americans, Native Americans, all of them are staggering around in the circle of disparity of income, educational opportunities, sexual discrimination and harassment. And once again, history and sharing from generation to generation makes it difficult to remove the barriers. I ask myself whether this is, in a nutshell, all that the U.S. president always has to bear in mind and what he must proactively address vis-à-vis his citizens in terms of rights and freedoms on an internal level. One thing I am certain of is that he must unite America as such, in social and economic areas, to make sure that every citizen regardless of his/her origin and status believes in his/her country, fights for it, finds job security, reward, a healthy and as conflict-free a life as possible there.

The second part of the puzzle are U.S. infringements on rights and freedoms abroad. Mr. President, I certainly do not expect an easier task and answer as compared to the internal rights and freedoms of U.S. citizens. I do not need to think too hard to realize that a superpower of the magnitude of the United States certainly does not expand its influence, power and reach by subtle adjustments and chatting over tea or coffee. Unfortunately, America has a rather long tradition of violating the sovereignty and human rights in other countries. Invasions resulting in the deaths of civilians and enormous economic damage are a giant stain on the foreign "policy” of the United States. That stain is further aggravated by prolonged economic embargos and sanctions directed at certain countries.

I am unable to think of a realistic solution for an immediate turnaround. It is easy to say "well, just don't do it; Mr. President, order for all the interference to stop". Lots of questions pop up straight away: what is interference, and what is necessary protection or defense, what is unrequested "assistance" and what a requested intervention. Financial costs will not be a minor consideration, either, whether invested into military deployment or withdrawal. And then there is the arms industry, of course, of which the United States, and not only the United States, are very fond. Even my homeland knows how to benefit from it.

Two important pieces of the puzzle are in place, and yet, the question still lacks an unequivocal answer.

The world is about a story, life is about a story. Politics lacks a story, politics does not have a story, which is why it fails.

I have the answer.

The world is ruled by those who tell a story. We, people, tell a story. That is why people, the country's citizens, must reclaim their power and the right to decide on anything.

The dominant ideology must not rule, the prattle of distant elites and vacuous slogans must not be the only thing to be heard.

There must be a debate, carried out at the speed and in the direction determined by facts and arguments arising from civic requirements.

Human nature characterized by remarkable sociability and selflessness, with recognition at the core, must be encouraged.

We must, and you must, Mr. President, start telling a new story.   A story the first step in which is the revival of humanity.

Sources for study

U.S. Department Of State
Constitution of the United States of America
Talk / Madeleine Albright, Michael Zantovsky
Talk /  Andrew H. Schapiro, U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic

The Crisis of Modern Slavery

By Andrew Selius

In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was officially proclaimed. This amendment declared that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." ("13th Amendment"). Up until that point, it was not against the law in many states to hold other human beings in unjust bondage, and exploit them as sources of labor. The passage and ratification of this historical amendment, however, did not end slavery as we knew it.

Modern Slavery, also known as Contemporary Slavery, is a thriving multibillion-dollar industry, harboring an estimated 21 million people, with 5.5 million of those victims being under the age of 18, and nearly 60,000 of these victims existing in the United States ("Statistics and Indicators on Forced Labour"). Contemporary Slavery is the third largest source of income for organized crime, behind the sale of drugs and arms ( "Combating Modern-Day Slavery." ). Today, slavery in not necessarily defined as the actual ownership of human beings, but rather "the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion." In addition, this definition of slavery encompasses practices such as debt bondage,  forced marriage, and recruitment and use of child soldiers ("What Is Modern Slavery?" ).  As defined, modern slavery violates Articles 4, 13, 16, and 23 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These articles include human rights such as "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude", and  "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, [and] to just and favourable conditions of work" ("Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations."). It is clear, then, that modern slavery is the most important issue that will be faced by the next President of the United States, and that the President must work to tackle this issue through a multitude of measures, including international cooperation, domestic laws, and readily-accessible programs to make victimhood more visible.

Modern slavery is a serious issue that affects a significant number of people within the United States and around the globe. The President of the United States must address this issue by first attacking portions of the slavery market's business at the source. These sources include sexual exploitation/forced prostitution, private labor exploitations, and state-imposed forced labor ("Statistics and Indicators on Forced Labour").

Combating forced prostitution starts with preventing sexual abuse during the victim's childhood; "90% of women and children who end up as Sex Slaves were victims of childhood sexual abuse before they were recruited." Furthermore, 46% of slaves were "recruited by someone they know."  ("Modern Day Slavery Statistics"). By implementing programs in schools to help victims of sexual abuse become aware of their situation and seek help, and those guilty of abusing children are less likely to be able to recruit their victims as slaves. Furthermore, those that still choose to engage in prostitution should have a regulated system for support, which is why it is imperative that prostitution be legalized and brothels be regulated to undermine the black market of sexual exploitation, and allow those who are engaged in prostitution by force to seek help without fear of criminal charges, as "people who were sexually abused as children are a whopping 27.7 times more likely than others to be arrested for prostitution" ("Childhood Sexual Abuse Often Leads to Prostitution"). Fighting sexual slavery requires that the factors that allow it to happen are eliminated, thus it is necessary to tackle the issue of childhood sexual abuse.

While forced prostitution is a serious problem that must be addressed, there also looms the issue of forced labor, which is oftentimes found in the stages of producing the products that Americans use every day. For example, Apple has come under intense scrutiny regarding the use of bonded labor in the manufacture of its products. There have been efforts to combat such issues in supply chains: In 2010, California implemented laws that required large businesses to report on their efforts to combat slavery in their supply chains. ("Everywhere in (supply) Chains; Modern Slavery"). The President must take this a step further, by implementing regulatory bodies that examine businesses of all scales, on a national level, in order to ensure that goods and services do not bring business to the slave industry, rewarding businesses who comply and take efforts to fight slavery, and imposing harsh penalties on companies that repeatedly fail to eliminate slave labor from their supply chains. By doing so, companies are rewarded for their efforts to create fairly produced products, and are dissuaded from using unethical means of production to cut costs. On an international level, the President must make efforts to encourage other nations, especially developing nations, to support ethical manufacturing and combat slavery within their nations. Although the imposition of sanctions may be viewed as controversial, economic or diplomatic sanctions against countries who continue to allow slavery in business can prove to be powerful and persuasive. These efforts have the potential to make a significant impact on the reduction of slave labor in the United States and worldwide.

Finally, forced marriage remains one of the more difficult forms of slavery to combat. It is a difficult challenge because it involves working along cultural lines, as in many cultures, the non-consensual marriage of girls and women is considered normal, raising the question of "whether practices considered normal in many societies can or should be condemned internationally as slavery," and calling into question "whether or not a universal standard of human rights can apply to all societies" ("Slavery, Contemporary Forms of."). The President of the United States should work to encourage societal change in these countries, as the oppression of women within these cultures may be considered normal, but must be deemed unethical. The United States can offer aid or other incentives to countries that choose to reduce rates of forced marriage. To combat forced marriage further, The President must impose strict sanctions on countries within the United Nations that allow for forced marriage to occur, as such allowances violate Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses" ("Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations"). This is especially imperative regarding China, where "women and girls are kidnapped and then sold as wives." Unfortunately, many of these women and girls are uneducated about their rights, and thus take little action to seek help ("Slavery, Contemporary Forms of"). Encouraging China to educate its populace on their rights and where to seek help should they violated will help to bring greater resistance to kidnapping and forced marriage. Forced marriage, while a serious issue within the realm of human rights and modern slavery, is a problem that can be solved through diplomacy and cooperation.

The next President of the United States will be faced with a myriad of challenges, and contemporary slavery is one that cannot be ignored. Modern slavery is an issue that is rarely discussed, yet affects so many people worldwide. Slavery today comes in many forms, making it an issue that must be attacked from different angles. By breaking the concept of modern slavery down into its different forms, they can be individually analyzed and attacked more effectively. On the domestic level, it is important that the next President pay greater attention to preventing childhood sexual abuse, as reducing these incidents will in turn reduce the rate of forced prostitution. It is also important that the President make efforts to incentivize the removal of slavery from the supply chains of many industries. By doing so, businesses will see rewards for their efforts, and businesses that employ slave labor will see their profits severely reduced, shrinking the market for forced labor as a result. Building on this strategy, the President must take the fight against slavery beyond our borders, attacking forced labor in countries that are involved in U.S. businesses through diplomatic means. The next President must also tackle issues such as forced marriage and child soldier recruitment by imposing significant punishment through various forms of sanctions on countries that fail to prevent these practices from occurring.  This is no easy task, but with strong diplomacy, education, and domestic efforts, the crisis of contemporary slavery can be tackled, positively affecting the lives of millions of victims.

Works Cited

"Combating Modern-Day Slavery." Amendment XIII: Abolishing Slavery. Ed. Tracey Biscontini and Rebecca Sparling. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2009. 157-59. Constitutional Amendments: Beyond the Bill of Rights. U.S. History in Context. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"Everywhere in (supply) Chains; Modern Slavery." Economist 14 Mar. 2015: 61(US). World History in Context. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"Statistics and Indicators on Forced Labour and Trafficking (Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Slavery)." Statistics and Indicators on Forced Labour and Trafficking (Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Slavery). International Labour Organization, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Lydersen, Kari. "Childhood Sexual Abuse Often Leads to Prostitution." What Are the Causes of Prostitution? Ed. Louise Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2007. At Issue. Rpt. of "Vicious Cycle: Shedding Light on a Cycle of Abuse." In se Times 17 Nov. 2003: n. pag. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"Modern Day Slavery Statistics." The World Counts. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"Slavery, Contemporary Forms of." Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery. Ed. Paul Finkelman and Joseph Calder Miller. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998. N. pag. World History in Context. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"What Is Modern Slavery?" U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

The People Who Have No One

By Michelle Woo

The situation in Syria, along with the accompanying refugee crisis, is the most severe impediment on human rights that the United States is dealing with. There are more than 9 million Syrian refugees and displaced people -- currently the largest refugee crisis in the world.”[1] From deplorable conditions in refugee camps to dangerous journeys across land and sea, the protection of human rights is in shambles. This is an international crisis, even though only nations in Europe are currently being directly affected. The next president of the United States will have to take action on this extreme violation of human rights.

Human rights were first defined by the United Nations in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHR) following the atrocities that had occurred during the Holocaust and World War II.[2] The rights guaranteed in this declaration are universal and indivisible; in other words, they are guaranteed to everyone, and each one is equally important. This declaration means that UN member states are committing themselves to the protection of human rights, providing all people with “a life of human dignity.”[3] These rights include the right to “life, liberty, and security of person”; the right to a nationality; the “right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”; and the guarantee that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” among many other rights.[4] In Syria and the places the refugees are fleeing to, many of the rights set forth and guaranteed in this document are being violated.

Syrians have no one to protect them; they are in an extremely vulnerable position because they have no country that is able to look out for them. A civil war is raging within the country, as a plethora of rebel groups battle the authoritative Assad, who is known for his human rights abuses. War crimes are rampant within the nation; there is evidence that all parties in the conflict have committed these, including rape, murder, torture, and enforced disappearances. Civilian suffering is used as a method of war. Furthermore, chemical weapons have been fired on innocent Syrian citizens.[5]

These horrible violations of human rights have resulted in a mass exodus of Syrians hoping to make it to Europe. However, the situation in overwhelmed Europe is not much better. Appalling conditions in refugee camps are in blatant violation of basic human rights. A senior Greek politician described how “refugees in Europe are living in conditions comparable to Nazi concentration camps.” Idomeni is one such camp on Greece’s border with Macedonia. It is overstuffed and has people living in terrible conditions. Though the camp was intended to hold just 2,500 people, it actually holds around 12,000 refugees in “wet, cold, and muddy conditions.”[6] It has only increased in size after Macedonia closed its border. A baby was washed by its parents in a puddle; living conditions consist mainly of “tents in swathes of mud”; health workers warn of an imminent health crisis. According to the United Nations, there is a shortage of “food, shelter, water and sanitation in the tent city.”[7] Clearly, the horrid conditions of these camps are in violation of even the most basic human rights. The journey away from their country of origin and attempt to enter Europe is also grueling and dangerous. In 2015, more than 3,770 migrants were reported to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.[8] Many make the journey in flimsy dinghies or unsafe fishing boats.

The United States, as a member of the United Nations and as a moral member of the international community, will have to address this issue now and in the coming years. The President of the United States should begin by increasing the number of refugees the United States is taking in. This can be done by encouraging Congress to accept more refugees or through Executive Order. This does not necessarily mean that the President should decrease the security of our own country: immigration can continue to have strict checks on the people entering our country. We have the moral obligation to support these refugees. They no longer have a country that is willing to protect them; instead, their government has turned against them, employing chemical bombs on its own citizens.

A safe zone could be established for the refugees near the Syrian border. Consequently, instead of having to travel extensive distances over dangerous routes, spending their entire lives’ savings, in hopes of reaching Europe, Syrian refugees could travel a much shorter distance to a safe zone right on the border of the country. The next president should take several actions in order to bring this proposal into reality: first, he must encourage increased monetary support to provide humanitarian aid.[9] In addition, the president will have the diplomatic responsibility to ensure the safety of this area. This would involve negotiations with Russia and the rebel groups to make this a “no fly zone.” Thus, western countries will no longer be overwhelmed with an influx of refugees who have risked their lives only to be turned away at the border. Instead, these refugees will have a secure place to stay while the civil war rages on.

This issue could also be addressed with a grassroots approach, trying to solve the issue in Syria itself. The migrant crisis is the result of human rights violations in Syria; addressing these issues at the roots will ultimately be the best solution. In the short term, the United States should provide asylum to these refugees and work with other countries to create a safe zone. In the long-term, we can hope to end the intense violence plaguing Syria and establish peace, so Syrians will no longer be prosecuted by their own country.

A combination of increased acceptance of refugees, creation of a safe zone, and long-term diplomacy on the part of the next US president will help to resolve the Syrian crisis. Only these multi-faceted approaches will be able to resolve the abominable human rights abuses that are currently occurring as a result of the Syrian Civil War.


Amnesty International. “Syria Human Rights.” Amnesty USA. Accessed November 4, 2016. http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/syria. Flowers, Nancy, ed. “What Are Human Rights?” Human Rights Library. Accessed November 6, 2016. http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/edumat/hreduseries/hereandnow/Part-1/whatare.htm. McKenzie, Robert L., and Jessica Brandt. “Towards Solutions to the Syrian Refugee Crisis.” Brookings.edu. Last modified June 22, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2016. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2016/06/22/towards-solutions-to-the-syrian-refugee-crisis/. "Migration to Europe Explained in Seven Charts." BBC. Last modified March 4, 2016. Accessed November 6, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911. Rodgers, Lucy, David Gritten, James Offer, and Patrick Asare. “Syria: The Story of the Conflict.” BBC News. Last modified March 11, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868. UN General Assembly. "Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations. Accessed November 6, 2016. http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/. Worley, Will, and Lizzie Dearden. “Greek Refugee Camp Is ‘As Bad as a Nazi Concentration Camp,’ Says Minister.” Independent. Last modified March 18, 2016. Accessed November 6, 2016. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/idomeni-refugee-dachau-nazi-concentration-camp-greek-minister-a6938826.html.


More (63) and better essays from more schools (17) than ever before were submitted in 2016 to the sixteenth annual Kemper Human Rights Essay contest.  Below the essays are listed alphabetically by the authors' last names.

1 Alex Araki GHS Freedom of Expression and Choice
2 Dushan Arsov SHS Education: The Abandoned Key to Success
3 Hannah Bein GHS Gender Inequality
4 Sheridan Bernard AHS Morals and Migration
5 Madison Brokenshire AHS Pro-life vs. Pro-Choice Debate
6 Xavier Ceradini GHS Human Rights, Fifteen Years Into Modern America
7 Madison Cheney GHS Syrian Refugee Crisis
8 Sophie Cobb BHS Protecting the Predator
9 Frances Haviland Coen GHS My Body, Is It Actually Mine?
10 Kimi Cook KHS Abortion:  An Important Issue Laid on the Table for the President
11 Bella Coupet GHS Abortion; A Pressing Issue
12 Lauren Courtman BHS The Most Important Human Rights Issue
13 Sadie Cox GHS A Human Rights Issue Our Next President Must Address
14 Nicholas Dagnino, GHS Freedom of Speech
15 Nadia C. Davis WHS What is the Next human Rights Issue That Our President Should Focus On?
16 Sara Ann Davison JHS The Re-United States of America
17 Genevieve DeWinter GHS Women's Choice
18 Elijah Camryn Dowell WDHS Equality In America
19 Hannah Doyle DHS Immigration Under the Rule of Trump
20 Ayelet Drazen WWHS No Title
21 Kate Ennis GHS Human Rights of Refugees and Immigrants
22 Nick Fiore GHS Middle Eastern Refugees
23 Mohamed Flitti MHS The New US President Elect and the Most Important Human Rights Issue
24 Erika Folgar, BMHS Immigration in the United States
25 Fjolla Gashi, GHS United States Intervention in Syria
26 Maya Gerster GHS The American Woman's Fight for a Set of Fundamental Rights
27 Greg Goldstein GHS Syrian Refugee Crisis
28 Ayushi Hegde AHS Refugees Under a Trump Presidency
29 Emmanuella Henebeng EHHS No title
30 Serena Jankovic NHS The True Urgency of Climate Change
31 Jake Karetsky GHS A Human Right Under Assault
32 Diana Khademi GHS No Title
33 Kim Kockenmeister GHS The Lack of LGBT Rights
34 Veronika Kowalski SHS The More You Know
35 Simon Levien SPHS Ensuring the Student's Right to a Propper Education
36 Kristen Lewis GHS Police and Community Relations
37 Sophie Lindh GHS Refugees & the Next President
38 Kai Hin Lui SHS A Remedy for Intolerance
39 Grace Maffucci MHS Coming to Life
40 Benjamin Michals GHS The Criminal Justice Humanitarian Crisis
41 Lucy Mini GHS Breaking Bill of Rights Values in Guantanamo Bay
42 Natalie Nevřelová JHS Rise Of Extremisn In Established Societies
43 Jennifer Noyes BCHS Bringing Peace to the Homeland:  The Syrian Refugee Crisis
44 Kathryn Papas, GHS Mandatory Vaccination
45 Amanda Pynei GHS Make America United Again
46 Andrea Rasovska JHS Start Telling a Story
47 Mary Robinson GHS Women's Rights in 2016
48 Felipe Sanches GHS Can our next president fix human rights issues in the US?
49 Ashley Schoenfeld SPHS Implementing the Carbon Tax
50 Andrew Selius MHS The Crisis of Modern Slavery
51 Julia Sposito GHS Closing the Gap
52 Mikaela Strauss NRHS Children are the Future
53 Stefan James Suben MHS 2016's Three Most Urgent
54 Christopher Thomas GHS The Human Livestock Industry
55 Rachel Thomas, DHS An American Ideal:  The Pursuit of Happiness
56 Michelle Woo GHS The People Who Have No One
57 Senna Yiannakou GHS Citizens of Humanity
58 Humza Zaidi AHS Our Broken Educational Systerm
59 Jari Zegers GHS An Immigration Ban:  Why it Would Not Work
60 Marek Zeman JHS No Title.
61 Anna Zerbinati BMHS Racial Disparities in Our Criminal Justice System
62 Margaret Zhang, GHS The Next POTUS Respecting a Woman's Right to Choose
63 Namra Zulfiqar, SHS No Title.

AHS. Avon High School, Avon, CT.
BCHS. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Bethesda, MD.
BHS. Boulder High School, Boulder, CO.
BMHS. Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, CT.
DHS. Danbury High School, Danbury, CT.
EHHS. East Hartford High School, East Harford, CT.
GHS. Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT.
JHS. Gymnázium Jana, Prague, Czech Republic, CZ.
KHS. Kenwood High School, Essex, MD.
MHS. Mamaroneck High School, Mamaroneck, NY.
NHS. Norwalk High School, Norwalk, CT.
NRHS. New Rochelle High School, New Rochelle, NY.
SHS. Stuyvesant High School, New York City, NY.
SPHS. Sparta High School, Sparta Township, NJ.
WHS. West Hartford High School, West Hartford, CT.
WDHS. Woodlawn High School, Baltimore, MD.
WWHS. Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.