Past Event

Human Rights in Turkey Today

August 27, 2019
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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Columbia Global Centers | Amman

Christopher Stone, Professor of Practice of Public Integrity, Oxford University and Adjunct Senior Research Scholar, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

in discussion with

Ayşe Gül Altınay, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Center, Sabancı University

Ekrem Murat Çelikkan, Co-director of Hafıza Merkezi, the Center for Truth, Memory and Justice

As Turkey continues what The Economist recently termed its “slide into autocracy,” its human rights violations pile up; yet the international mechanisms built over the last seven decades for the protection of human rights seem weaker than ever, with states abandoning longstanding commitments to human rights standards and institutions. At such a moment, to whom is human rights advocacy best addressed, and how—in the context of growing authoritarianism—is such advocacy most usefully conducted? Two of Turkey’s most prominent human rights advocates discuss the dilemmas facing all those who champion rights today in an increasingly hostile world.

This discussion is part of an inaugural Symposium on Strength and Solidarity for Human Rights, held at Columbia Global Centers | Amman, which brings together advocates from a dozen countries, including Sudan, the Philippines, South Africa, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, the UK, and the USA.


Christopher Stone [Panel Chair] is Professor of Practice of Public Integrity at Oxford University's Blavatnik School of Government and an adjunct Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. From 2012 to 2017, he served as president of the Open Society Foundations, helping to strengthen civil society as a force for political pluralism in more than a hundred countries worldwide. From 2005 to 2012, Chris was Guggenheim Professor of the Practice of Criminal Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he led both the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. From 1994 to 2004, he served as president of the Vera Institute of Justice, an incubator of innovation for the justice sector based in New York.


Ayşe Gül Altınay is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Center at Sabancı University in Istanbul. She also has been a Faculty Fellow of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference since 2013. Ayşe is a co-organizer of the Working Group on “Women Mobilizing Memory” and a co-editor of the forthcoming Women Mobilizing Memory volume (Columbia University Press, 2019).


Ekrem Murat Çelikkan is the co-director of Hafıza Merkezi, the Center for Truth, Memory and Justice in Turkey. He has worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, assuming the role of reporter, editor, columnist, and chief executive editor. Ekrem's primary focus has been on human rights violations and democracy. In addition to journalism, he has been an active member of the Turkish Human Rights Movement, and he has collaborated with human rights NGOs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Italy, and Argentina. Ekrem has served on the boards of the Human Rights Association, Helsinki Citizens Assembly, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Foundation.