Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 11:20 am est

Advocates equate human, labor rights

Posted on April 22, 2014 | by Anjana Sreedhar

Felipe De La Hoz/WSN

To Jo Becker, labor rights should be considered human rights and fought for with equal zeal.

Becker, advocacy director of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, was joined by Gallatin professors Vasuki Nesiah and Chinnie Ding at NYU to discuss the relationship between labor and human rights on April 21 as a part of “Labor Rights as Human Rights.”

Becker spoke about her organization’s current efforts to work with tobacco companies to ensure that children are not working in dangerous conditions on tobacco plantations.

“She is a leader in the field,” Nesiah said. “She has been influential in terms of actually shaping international human rights law, initially through the Child Soldiers Convention and now through the Domestic Workers Law, so that’s actually changing the legal landscape globally.”

Becker explained the three main groups responsible for ensuring human rights: governments, companies and human rights organizations. She said labor groups and human rights organizations often share common goals but do not agree on how to reach them.

“At the Human Rights Council, I’ll often see dozens of [non-governmental organizations],” Becker said. “But when I and my colleagues go to the International Labor Organization, we’re often the only NGO there.”

Becker said human rights organizations can do more to ensure that labor rights are human rights by prioritizing the agendas.

She also celebrated some of Human Rights Watch’s successes, such as pressuring the Russian government to fairly pay migrant construction workers brought in for the Sochi Olympics.

“The Human Rights Council at the [United Nations] covers so many issues, so whether you’re working on torture or incarceration or freedom of expression … there’s a place for you, whereas the ILO has a more narrow focus,” Becker said.

At the event, CAS junior Leah Mlyn asked about the efforts being made to promote access to public services for migrant workers in the United States. Becker said child labor research done in the United States shows a diverse combination of migrants, children of migrants and U.S. citizens working in the fields.

Mlyn, a recipient of the Gallatin Global Fellowship for Human Rights, said it was interesting to hear Becker speak.

“I did get a good understanding of how Human Rights Watch conceptualizes their relationship between labor rights and human rights, and the overlaps and how those discourses work together,” Mlyn said. “I got a nice broad review of how those discourses can work in conversation and got to meet Jo Becker who I have heard a lot about, and it was interesting to hear her speak.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 22 print edition. Anjana Sreedhar is a staff writer. Email her at 

*Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Chinnie Ding as a doctoral student instead of a professor in Gallatin. 

WSN regrets the error.


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.