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First Rutgers–Newark Patton Boggs Foundation Fellow to Spend Summer in Peru Studying Legal Protections for Indigenous Communities

April 18, 2012 – 

Emily Button, a member of the Class of 2014 at Rutgers School of Law–Newark whose career goal is to become a human rights lawyer, will work this summer for the Andean Commission of Jurists (CAJ) in Lima, Peru as a Patton Boggs Foundation Fellow. Button will study the ways in which Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) have implemented international law standards on indigenous rights into their domestic law.

Emily Button in Peru
Patton Boggs Foundation Fellow Emily Button ’14 in Cusco, Peru.


In explaining her interest in the Patton Boggs Foundation grant, Button stated: “The role of indigenous communities is becoming extremely important in a world where natural resources are in demand every day, increasing the risk that indigenous groups will be displaced. The policy issues that arise when a nation has to balance the economic benefits of foreign investments with the human rights of indigenous groups are extremely pressing issues, and I intend to contribute to ensuring they are resolved in a peaceful and sustainable way through my work with CAJ.”

CAJ conducts research on local and international law and then disseminates the information through workshops and conferences intended to educate Andean governments, organizations and scholars about indigenous issues. One of the topics Button will study is the indigenous reaction to the country’s new “law on prior consultation,” which requires the government to involve indigenous communities in policy discussions about natural resource projects.

Button, the first Patton Boggs Foundation Public Policy Fellow from Rutgers–Newark, became interested in international human rights through her almost two years as a volunteer affairs coordinator in Cusco, Peru with the NGO ProWorld Peru. Working with indigenous communities, she became aware of the many challenges they face and, in particular, the sensitive relationship between the Andean people and their government regarding land rights, given the long history of Andean communities being expelled from their land to make way for commercial investment.

Button received her B.A. from Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts.

The Patton Boggs Foundation empowers individuals to engage in law, public policy, and public service globally by providing resources to support the public service work of law students and legal professionals. Launched in 2005, the Public Policy Fellowship Program has awarded fellowships to exceptional law students who demonstrate a steadfast commitment to public service and a developed interest in public policy. Fellowship recipients dedicate their summers to advancing public policy issues by contributing their efforts to nonprofit institutions, government agencies, and domestic or international organizations.