Thor Halvorssen – The Bold Face of Global Human Rights

Thor Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza, known to the world simply as Thor Halvorssen is a Venezuelan supporter of human rights. He is also a film producer with notable inputs in the fields of public policy, individual rights, public interests, and civil liberties. Referred by Times as the advocate of powerless and underdogs, he started promoting human rights from a young age in 1989 in London when he organized a bold opposition to South African apartheid.

Of Norwegian and Venezuelan descent, he didn’t become involved in full-time advocacy of human rights until his father became a political captive in Venezuela. However, he started taking his human rights work to the next level when founded Human Rights Foundation in New York. This happened only after his mother was shot in the midst of a political protest in 2004.

The Human Rights Foundation was built to release political prisoners in Latin America and also endorse democracy. Ever since its formation, HRF has successfully managed to release seven prisoners of conscience, published books on state responsibilities and importance of individual rights, proposed amicus briefs in high-profile international human rights cases, among others.

Not only did Halvorssen establish the HRF, he is also the founder and CEO of Oslo Freedom Forum, which is described as a magnificent human-rights festival by The Economist. Some people even call it the Davos Economic Forum in the making. Halvorssen has been actively involved in human rights and also supports On Own Feet, a Prague-based peace movement for children.

Halvorssen realized that in his work, the best way to be heard is through media channels. Thus, he became involved as a columnist for left-friendly Huffington Post. He also writes actively for Forbes Magazine. In May 2010, Halvorssen bought the popular leftist Norwegian news magazine, Ny Tid. He is currently working to produce a film based on Robert Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”

His work has received several accolades including acknowledgment by The New York Times. His opinions have been published by notable media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The New York Times, National Public Radio, among many more publications.

 

Sujit Choudhry: Preserving the Importance of Comparative Law

Comparative law studies the similarities and differences in international legal systems. In its comparison, it sees how close the world is to globalizing laws. It was first mentioned by a French philosopher, Montesquieu, in his book called “The Spirit of The Laws”. Since then, there have been several divisions of laws created. Comparative law seeks to understand the laws of other countries, while improving a country’s own legal system.

 

When other countries understand each other’s legal systems, it can help make better foreign policies. It keeps the lines of communication open. Comparative law is essential for launching international business. When governments must deal with foreign criminals who have crossed their borders, they will have a better understanding of how to treat them. Extradition treaties depend on a cooperation between international legal systems.

 

Making comparisons between different legal systems can be complicated. There can be variations of the same form. Traditionally, legal systems were broken into seven different groups. These groups include German, French, English, Scandinavian, Islamic, Hindu, and Russian. Most countries follow a form of one of these. It is easier to make comparisons between countries within the same group.

 

Ideologies within legal systems can be divided into five different groups, depending on the source: Chinese, Hindu, Muslim, Soviet, and Western. Other legal experts group countries into six legal groups: Religious, Far East, Roman, German, Anglo-American, and Scandinavian. Some countries may borrow from another legal system, while staying predominantly another.

 

As the world is becoming more industrialized and there is a push toward globalization, countries use comparative law in order to understand and cooperate more with others. It provides comprehension of other belief systems and how they are similar to our own. Comparative law is an integral part of studies in law and humanities.

 

One of the top legal minds in comparative law is Sujit Choudhry. He is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law in UCLA Berkeley. He has been an advisor for several countries that were building their constitution. He has done impressive research in constitutional law and how they are formed. Choudhry is a prolific writer of books, papers, and various academic articles. He sits on several legal boards.

 

He held prestigious positions in the NYU School of Law and the University of Toronto. Professor Choudhry is the recipient of the Trudeau Fellowship and has worked with government agencies in Canada, including the Legal Aid department of Ontario. He earned his degrees from Oxford, Toronto, and Harvard. He clerked for a justice of Canada’s Supreme Court. Professor Choudhry has been a champion of rights for minorities and citizens over the world.