The American Space Leipzig proudly welcomed the participating students of the Ambassadors in Sneakers 2019 Young Leaders’ Transatlantic Summer Academy on Human Rights on June 18 and treated the young leaders to a lecture on the evolution of human rights issues in the United States and Germany.

ASL was honored to have Prof. Paul S. Rundquist, expert in American history, as well as congressional and transatlantic politics, discuss the developments in human rights on a transatlantic level. Prof. Rundquist first covered the main differences between the German Grundgesetz (Basic Law) that celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2019 and the US Constitution, noting that the 19 sections making up the Grundgesetz cover the rights of all and are expansive and detailed descriptions of people’s rights, and more importantly, describe the inviolability of human rights overall. Continuing, Prof. Rundquist talked about the many differences between the German and US high-level court system, the nomination of judges, the force of revision of the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) and the voting procedures of each court, noting that dissent is allowed in the US Supreme Court, while the German court’s decisions are unanimous. The remaining time of the lecture focused on the history of three human rights pillars in the US: Race and Civil Rights, Gender and Civil Rights, and Abortion Rights. For each pillar, Prof. Rundquist offered an expansive historical overview, explained the most important cases before the Supreme Court, and touched on recent developments.

The vastly interesting lecture sparked plenty of questions from the almost 30 strong audience of young leaders from the United States and Germany and allowed for an engaging and informative Q&A.

Ambassadors in Sneakers is a four-week educational program that brings together youth councils and youth committees from the U.S. and Germany. Its central focus is on the topic of human rights. Against this background, participants learn about both countries’ political structures and interrelations.

While travelling together in Germany and the U.S., the young leaders learn about places and institutions that are significant for the development of and struggle for human rights. They meet activists, media representatives and politicians and learn from them, as well as from and with each other to gain a broader perspective on the issues at hand. While the project has been conducted in both 2017 and 2018 to great success with participants and partners from Georgia and Alabama, the 2019 summer academy will focus on Michigan and Illinois.

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