UNH Law Professor Leads Advocacy Workshops in Middle East
Cory Smith, an adjunct professor at UNH Law and a noted human rights advocate, recently traveled to Israel and the West Bank to conduct a series of workshops for Israelis, Palestinians, and Bedouins on advocacy with US government and policymakers. Smith, who teaches Intro to Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery at UNH Law, also met with key stakeholders in the region on human trafficking and refugee protection.
Smith has long worked to protect human rights, immigrant rights, civil rights and civil liberties through federal legislation, appropriations and executive branch measures. He works for the private foundation Humanity United, where he serves as legal and policy counsel for the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking. The alliance, known as ATEST, is a diverse alliance of U.S.-based human rights organizations, acting with a shared agenda to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking around the world.
“The workshops provided critical skills training and role playing for civil society leaders, advocates and attorneys on how to engage the American public and U.S. Government on Israeli, Palestinian and Bedouin human rights,” he said.
Smith was one of three speakers at each of the three workshops, held this month in Tel Aviv and Beersheva, in Israel, and in Ramallah, in the West Bank. "I taught participants how to advocate with the US government," he says, "including the House, Senate and administration." The workshops were organized by The Telos Group. Telos introduces influential American leaders from across the political, ideological, and vocational spectra to the peoples and present realities of Israel/Palestine.
Workshop participants included representatives from The African Refugee Development Center, which seeks to assist and empower refugees and asylum seekers in Israel; the Hotline for Migrant Workers, which is dedicated to promoting the rights of migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers, and eliminating trafficking in persons in Israel; Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, a human rights organization working to ensure the right to health for all in in Israel and the occupied territories; and Sidreh, a grassroots Bedouin women organization in the Negev region of Israel that aims to improve and strengthen
the status of Bedouin women in the Negev through personal, social and economic empowerment programs.
Smith and leaders from ARDC, Hotline and PHR-I discussed strategies and shared experiences on efforts to prevent erosion of asylum and refugee protection in the U.S. and Israel and shared strategies on fighting human trafficking.
Smith said he will leverage the relationships and experience from his trip in teaching his human trafficking law class this spring, adding that he has made arrangements for human rights attorneys from the region to speak to UNH law students and the broader community by videoconference. He credits third-year UNH Law student Alec Graham with helping him by doing advance research for the trip and preparing a briefing memo.
Smith formerly served as the executive director and advocacy director for Enough, a project to end genocide and mass atrocities at the Center for American Progress, and he was the deputy campaign manager for the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the campaign that led efforts to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. He also served as legislative counsel for Human Rights First in Washington, DC, and as a policy analyst at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition. He holds a J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law and is a member of the Washington State Bar Association.
In the photo above, Smith talks with Khadra Elsaneh, the executive director of the Lakiya Weaving Project, which aims to empower Bedouin women in Israel's Negev region, both personally and economically, by applying their traditional weaving skills to the manufacture and sale of woven products.