By Tamar Hiss
In just one week at René Cassin, my understanding of human rights issues has undergone a remarkable transformation. The experience has broadened my awareness and highlighted the direct impact human rights have on people’s lives. One example that struck me profoundly was the passing of the Illegal Migration Act, despite its explicit contradiction with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The treatment of asylum seekers and refugees directly relates to a task I undertook during the week, where I delved into the topic of statelessness, particularly in the context of the Holocaust. Through my research I learnt that during and after the war, numerous Jews attempted to escape Eastern Europe, seeking refuge in England. Upon their arrival they were stateless due to the Nazis revoking their nationality under the Nuremberg laws. This historical perspective provided by the René Cassin team emphasised the profound connection between human rights and Judaism.
Throughout this week’s experience, I learned a crucial lesson as a Jew, which was the importance of using our voices to advocate against human rights injustices. This related to my second task which was to complete research about Jewish human rights activists and lawyers, discovering how they contributed to human rights law. Throughout the week (and this research) I learnt that Jews have had a large part in the creation of human rights law in the years after the Holocaust as a reaction to the genocide that took place.
Looking back at my week at René Cassin, I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to learn and understand how a human rights charity works and promotes change and awareness. I got to truly be part of the René Cassin team and take part in their team meetings and Zoom events, allowing me to truly immerse myself in their work. I now fully understand the importance of human rights, and even more so, the need for their protection which René Cassin does daily.