The Island President's Struggle for Democracy and Environmental Justice in the Maldives

Event Date: 
Monday, March 6, 2017,
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Join the Donia Human Rights Center Panel with President Mohamed Nasheed, Jared Genser, and Rebecca Hardin.

In 2008, Mohamed Nasheed became the first democratically elected president in the history of the island nation of the Maldives. His presidency was marked first by his heroic efforts to save his country from the ravages of rising sea-levels resulting from climate change, as captured in the critically acclaimed documentary film The Island President (2011). Then, afraid that he would expose the rampant corruption on their watch, powerful players in the previous regime conspired to force him out of presidency and tortured and persecuted him. With his health deteriorating, he managed to find exile in London with the help from international lawyers Jared Genser, Amal Clooney, and Ben Emmerson. He continues his tireless efforts to promote democracy in his homeland and is now poised to pursue presidency again in his beloved homeland. Featuring President Mohamed Nasheed, his lawyer Jared Genser, and Professor Rebecca Hardin of the UM School of Natural Resources and moderated by DHRC Director Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the Donia Human Rights Center Panel will examine how global challenges of climate change, environmental justice, human rights, and democracy converged in the Maldives and President Nasheed, and explore possible ways forward as the next presidential election in the Maldives looms in 2018. 


Mohamed Nasheed is an activist, journalist, and politician who served as the first democratically elected president of the Maldives. Mr. Nasheed made a name for himself as a dissident journalist, regularly challenging the authoritarian regime of former president Maumoon Gayoom. As a result of his outspoken criticism, he was repeatedly imprisoned. In 2003, Mr. Nasheed formed the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and in 2008, on a platform of human rights and democratic principles, he was elected president in the country’s first multi-party democratic elections.

Jared Genser is Managing Director of Perseus Strategies, a law and consulting firm that focuses on human rights, humanitarian, and corporate social responsibility projects. He is also Founder of Freedom Now, a non-governmental organization that works to free prisoners of conscience worldwide. Genser was an Associate of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University from 2014-2016, a Visiting Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy from 2006-2007, and was previously named by the National Law Journal as one of “40 Under 40: Washington’s Rising Stars.” Before founding Perseus Strategies, 

Rebecca Hardin’s areas of interest and scientific study include human/wildlife interactions, and social and environmental change related to wildlife management, tourism, logging, and mining in equatorial Africa, especially the western Congo basin. Recent projects also focus on the increasingly intertwined practices of health, environmental management, and corporate governance in southern and eastern Africa, including sites in South Africa and Kenya. In 2013-14 she advised a student team studying environmental justice cases within the U.S., and connecting them to the international Environmental Justice Atlas. In 2014–15 she advised a student team assessing groundwater and surface water resources across the African continent, and advising GETF about how to make a better business case for water related investment by businesses in Africa. She teaches and mentors students interested in international environmental practice and policy, wildife management, human relationships to landscape, environmental justice, and global health. She also provides support for the students who are the genius behind SNRE's weekly environmental talk and music show, It’s Hot in Here, airing at noon on Fridays on WCBN FM 88.3, and with an accompanying blog and mp3 archive. 

For more information about each panelist, visit the Donia Human Rights Center event page. 


1636 School of Social Work Building