Michael Ratner was a trailblazing attorney from the United States who self-identified as a “radical” lawyer. Coming into this role while still a law student at Colombia University protesting the Vietnam War, he used his legal training to support protestors and political movements facing repression across the US, and to fight US military interventions and human rights abuses around the world.
In nearly four decades of work at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York, Ratner was one of the first lawyers fighting the rights of Guantanamo detainees, defended Julian Assange from the US security state’s onslaught against journalism exposing US war crimes, and long supported the Palestinian struggle for rights and justice. Beyond the courtroom, he mobilized and inspired generations of activists and lawyers around the globe, including in Berlin, where he co-founded ECCHR and served in its Advisory Board until he passed away in 2016.
On the 24th of November we organized a event to honor Michael Ratner’s lifetime achievements and impact. His recently published posthumous memoir titled Moving the Bar: My Life as a Radical Lawyer (OR Books) is a rich source of insight and inspiration. This book talk event brings some of those who knew Michael best into conversation – both virtually and in-person – on his work, life and broader legacy in relation to the causes he championed and what it means to be a radical human rights lawyer today.
Speakers include Wolfgang Kaleck (ECCHR general secretary, Berlin), Reed Brody (Human rights lawyer, ECCHR Advisory Board, Berlin), Lotte Leicht (ECCHR Chairperson, Human Rights Watch, New York) and Claire Tixeire (Senior Legal Advisor, ECCHR, Berlin), with online contributions from Vince Warren (CCR executive director, New York), Raji Sourani (Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ director, Gaza, TBD), Jen Robinson (Human rights lawyer and barrister with Doughty Street Chambers), and Maria LaHood (CCR deputy legal director, New York).
The event kicks off the 10th anniversary of the ECCHR Alumni* Reunion. The book talk is also part of the event series Rupture and reckoning: 20 years of Guantánamo organized by ECCHR on the legacy of the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention center and U.S. counterterrorism 20 years after 9/11.
In cooperation with Bertha Foundation