The City College of New York

The series of lectures, conversations, film showings, exhibitions, and courses brings together faculty, students, and staff at CCNY and the New York City community to examine human rights through multiple lenses.


Monday, November 17, 2014
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 
The City College of New York
Shepard Hall, Room 250
At 137th, between Amsterdam and Broadway

Take 1 trains to 137th Street and walk up 137th Street, the NAC is the modern building on the hill after crossing Amsterdam; or, A, C, B, D to 145th and walk south on Convent Avenue. Shepard Hall is the gothic-inspired building on the corner of 140th Street and Convent Avenue.

“Moving Children: Young Migrants and the Challenge of Rights” with Jacqueline Bhabha and Susan Bissell, moderated by Eric Weitz

Why, despite massive public concern, is child trafficking on the rise? Why are unaccompanied migrant children living on the streets and routinely threatened with deportation to their countries of origin? Why do so many young refugees of war-ravaged and failed states end up warehoused in camps, victimized by the sex trade, or enlisted as child soldiers? This book provides the first comprehensive account of the widespread but neglected global phenomenon of child migration, exploring the complex challenges facing children and adolescents who move to join their families, those who are moved to be exploited, and those who move simply to survive.

 Spanning several continents and drawing on the actual stories of young migrants, the book shows how difficult it is for children to reunite with parents who left them behind to seek work abroad. It looks at the often-insurmountable obstacles we place in the paths of adolescents fleeing war, exploitation, or destitution; the contradictory elements in our approach to international adoption; and the limited support we give to young people brutalized as child soldiers. Part history, part in-depth legal and political analysis, this powerful book challenges the prevailing wisdom that widespread protection failures are caused by our lack of awareness of the problems these children face, arguing instead that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children—one we need to address head-on. Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age offers a road map for doing just that, and makes a compelling and courageous case for an international ethics of children’s human rights.


Eric D. Weitz

Eric D. Weitz is Dean of Humanities and Arts and Distinguished Professor of History at The City College of New York. He was previously on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, where he was Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History and the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair in the College of Liberal Arts. Trained in modern European and German history, his work in recent years has extended to the history and politics of international human rights and crimes against humanity. He received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 1983.

As Dean of Humanities and Arts, Weitz has been building the faculty and identifying new resources for faculty research and creative activity. He has promoted interdisciplinary collaborations across the College, and has sponsored new programs for students that provide them with major educational experiences outside of New York City. One highlight is the cooperation with Stanford University, in which 10 of CCNY's best Humanities students engage in research projects over the summer with Stanford faculty mentors. The goal is to prepare them for doctoral programs in the Humanities and, ultimately, to help diversify the professoriate in the United States. In turn, CCNY provides teaching experience for advanced Stanford Ph.D. students.

 Weitz has been the recipient of many fellowships and awards from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Council for Soviet and East European Research, and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others. He sits on the Academic Advisory Board of the Center for Contemporary Historical Research in Potsdam, Germany, and on the boards of many journals.

His major publications include Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy(2007; second expanded edition 2013),Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation(2003), and Creating German Communism, 1890-1990 (1997), all with Princeton University Press. Weimar Germany was named an "Editor's Choice" by The New York Times Book Review, and was included in the "Year in Books" of the Financial Times(London) and "The Best Books of 2007" of The Independent(London). It has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, and Chinese. Most recently, he co-edited with Omer Bartov, Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands(Indiana University Press, 2013), the result of a multi-year, international, and interdisciplinary project. In all his work he combines political, social, and intellectual history.

 Weitz is a frequent lecturer in public and academic settings, especially on the historical development of human rights and on comparative genocides. He has written and lectured on the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocide of the Herero and Nama of Namibia. In 2006 he initiated a book series with Princeton University Press, Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity. Weitz is currently writing A World Divided: A Global History of Nations and Human Rights from the Age of Revolution to the Present.

Jacqueline Bhabha

Jacqueline Bhabha is FXB Director of Research, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, and an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.  She received a first class honors degree and an M.Sc. from Oxford University, and a J.D. from the College of Law in London.

From 1997 to 2001 Bhabha directed the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago.  Prior to 1997, she was a practicing human rights lawyer in London and at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  She has published extensively on issues of transnational child migration, refugee protection, children’s rights and citizenship. She is the editor of Children Without A State (2011), author of Moving Children: Young Migrants and the Challenge of Rights (forthcoming, Princeton University Press, 2014), and the editor of Coming of Age: Reframing the Approach to Adolescent Rights (forthcoming, UPenn Press, 2014).

Bhabha serves on the board of the Scholars at Risk Network, the World Peace Foundation and the Journal of Refugee Studies.  She is also a founder of the Alba Collective, an international women’s NGO currently working with rural women and girls in developing countries to enhance financial security and youth rights.

Susan Bissell

A native of Canada, Ms. Bissell first served UNICEF in 1987, in New York, in what was then called the Division of Information and Public Affairs.  Thereafter she returned to the University of Toronto to complete a Master’s degree in law, economics and international relations.  Ms. Bissell then resumed her work at UNICEF, in the Sri Lanka country office, focused on children in especially difficult circumstances (CEDC).  From there she moved to Bangladesh and maintained her CEDC concentration, positioning UNICEF particularly on child labour at a time when it was attracting considerable international attention.
In 1997, Ms. Bissell again commenced academic work, in a doctoral degree in public health and medical anthropology at the WHO Key Center for Women’s Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne.  While completing her doctorate, she also worked with Trudie Styler and the Bangladeshi film team Catherine and Tareque Masud to produce the documentary "A Kind of Childhood."  The film screened widely at film festivals globally and appeared on Canadian, American, and British television.  In 2005, it had a second screening at the London Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Ms. Bissell came back to UNICEF in 2001 as the Chief of Child Protection in India.  In 2004, she transferred to the Innocenti Research Center, where she led a research unit and a number of studies.  These included a 62-country study on the implementation of the general measures of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and global research on the Palermo Protocol and child trafficking.  Ms. Bissell was also a member of the Editorial Board of the report of the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children, which was released in 2006.

In 2009, Ms. Bissell was appointed to her current position in New York, heading all of UNICEF’s Child Protection work.  She oversees a team of professionals guiding efforts for children affected by armed conflict, child protection systems strengthening to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children, and a range of other matters.  UNICEF is active in child protection in 170 countries, and the New York team offers leadership, strategic vision, and technical support.

Ms. Bissell was recently awarded an honourary Professorship at Barnard College/Columbia University.  She also received the Dr. Jean Mayar Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University in 2012, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  Ms. Bissell was honoured to accept both of these awards on behalf of her UNICEF Child Protection colleagues around the world.

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