Monday, June 27, 2022
UN Commissioner for Human Rights Comments on US Supreme Court Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health
In light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made the following comment on June 24, 2022:
The US Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization delivered today represents a major setback after five decades of protection for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US through Roe v Wade.
It is a huge blow to women’s human rights and gender equality.
Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human right law and is at the core of women and girls’ autonomy and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence and coercion.
This decision strips such autonomy from millions of women in the US, in particular those with low incomes and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, to the detriment of their fundamental rights.
More than 50 countries with previously restrictive laws have liberalized their abortion legislation over the past 25 years.
With today’s ruling, the US is regrettably moving away from this progressive trend.
The High Commissioner's full comments can be found here.
Sunday, June 26, 2022
By Margaret Drew
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."
The devasting Dobbs decision released last Friday revealed a new depth of anti-female activism in our country. The ultra-conservative justices disregarded women’s autonomy and human rights. Justice Roberts would have imposed limits short of Roe reversal, but the result would have been the same in denying choice to women. The decision imposes the religious and moral views of the justices, disregarding the mental and physical health of women and the difficult circumstances that lead them to consider abortion. The decision forebodes further restrictions on human and civil rights. Don’t believe the majority opinion when Justice Alito assures that other rights are not in danger. Unless he has not read Justice Thomas’ separate opinion, Justice Alito knows better of the challenges ahead for vulnerable populations.
Justice Thomas’ concurrence revealed what pro-choice advocates feared. The agenda to further gut the civil and human rights of women and sexual minorities is imminent. Thomas confirms that many of the vexing issues for ultra-conservatives involve sex and sexual identity. He notes Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. All these cases address sexual and/or reproductive freedom. The result of the reversal of the cited cases will be to further disempower women, particularly women of color and poor women, and all members of the LGBTQ+ community. For reasons to be explored later, Obergefell is particularly vulnerable.
With Roe reversed, and the right of privacy seriously injured, the Court will seek to reverse cases that are based on the right to privacy. Certain cases, that is. All dealing with “non-straight male” sexuality. Justice Thomas invited the litigation.
His agenda is revealed.
Friday, June 24, 2022
A reminder to our readers and contributors, that we are accepting law professor posts on the DOBBS decision beginning today.
We hope to hear from you on this critical human rights concern. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org please write “Symposium” in the subject line.
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Next week the International Law Association kicks off its 80th Biennial Conference, taking place in Lisbon from June 19-24 and organized by the Portuguese branch. The program includes the sessions of the ILA committees and study groups, and a set of parallel working sessions where the main issues affecting the present status of the International Law will be discussed. Sessions related to Human Rights include:
For more information regarding the ILA’s Conference’s program and panelists, download the detailed program here.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)has announced the schedule of hearings to take place as part of its 184th Period of Sessions. There will be 20 public hearings regarding human rights issues in OAS member states from June 21 - June 24, which will be livestreamed via Zoom and the IACHR’s official Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts. More information about the full list of hearings can be found here.
Friday June 24th from 2-3:30pm ET, the United States will participate in one of these hearings, which will follow up on the recommendations of 9 cases with published merits reports and 16 precautionary measures on the death penalty and death row in the U.S. In addition to the U.S.’s representative, the other participants will be Loyola Law School, American University, the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program, Cornell Law School, Jordan German, and Francisco Serrano. The webinar registration link can be found here.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
By Anezka Krobot, rising 2L at St. Louis University School of Law
This week and last week, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is holding the 110th International Labour Conference, where governments, employers’ organizations and trade unions from the 187 member States of the ILO meet to discuss, among other important questions, the issue of occupational safety and health as a Fundamental Principle and Right at Work. The issue of occupational safety and health for workers came to the forefront of the agency’s priorities with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in workers around the world being forced to work in conditions which put them in danger of contracting the potentially deadly virus. If it is decided that the effective protection of safe and healthy working conditions is a fundamental right, a 5th category of rights will be added to the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
So, what could this mean for the United States? The U.S. has been a member state of the ILO since 1934, Since then, the U.S. has become an integral member of the organization and ratified 14 conventions of the ILO, two of which fall under the “fundamental” category. If the new category is added to the Declaration, the U.S. will be expected to “respect, promote, and realize in good faith” the right of all workers to be protected against illness, disease, and injury arising out of employment.
For the ILO’s part, its stance appears clear. In an about the topic, its spokesman said, “The lack of safe and healthy working environments can no longer be tolerated. There is no right more important than the right to life.”
Much of this information was compiled from: https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/occupational-health-and-safety-as-a-fundamental-principle-and-right/
Monday, June 6, 2022
On June 9, 2022, from 10am-1pm EDT, join the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of Sea, Office of Legal Affairs for a free event both online and in-person at the UN Headquarters in New York. The theme of the event is REVITALIZATION: Collective Action for the Ocean, and it plans to shed light on communities, ideas, and solutions that are working together to protect and revitalize the ocean and everything it sustains. For more information on the event, see the schedule here.
The leading topics for the day are:
- Nature-based Solutions
- Science & Innovation
- Cross-sector & Cross-discipline Collaboration
- Biodiversity & Resilience
- Local & Indigenous Knowledge
- Community & Collaborative Efforts
- Blue Economy, Responsible Management & Finance
On June 1, 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released this statement condemning the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people—19 children and two teachers—lost their lives. In the face of this tragedy, the IACHR sent its condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to survivors of the shooting and to anyone who may have been affected by these events. The IACHR urged the federal authorities and the state of Texas to comprehensively investigate what happened and its underlying causes and take immediate legislative action to prevent gun violence.
The IACHR noted that the shooting in Uvalde happened just 10 days after the one in Buffalo, New York, where a man attacked a supermarket in a predominantly African American community and killed 10 people. Additionally, the IACHR noted with particular concern that according to Gun Violence Archive—an independent research and data collection organization—, during 2021, 690 indiscriminate mass shootings occurred, that resulted in multiple murders and injuries. So far in 2022, at least 213 events of this nature have been recorded.
The IACHR noted that the current federal administration has adopted measures to control gun violence, mainly through the implementation of executive orders. In this context, the Commission reiterated its call on the U.S. government to adopt urgent and effective legislative measures, to eradicate the series of armed violence in the country, such as effective gun control. It has been noted that many scientific studies, conducted over several decades and comparatively, show that factors that lead to violent environments include easy access to firearms and therefore, a high number of weapons in the hands of individuals.
In order to prevent human loss, the IACHR stated that it is essential for the United States to implement more restrictive laws to control the possession and carrying of weapons. This includes restrictions concerning assault weapons, like the AR-15 type rifle used in this and other attacks, including the one that took place on October 1, 2017 in Nevada. Further, the IACHR urged the U.S. to take effective action to enable greater supervision of the issuance of licenses, registration requirements, and access to ammunition.
To read the IACHR's full statement, visit https://www.oas.org/en/IACHR/jsForm/?File=/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2022/122.asp.
Thursday, June 2, 2022
New Article: Can Social Media Corporations be held Liable Under International Law for Human Rights Atrocities?
Juliana Palmieri, Can Social Media Corporations be held Liable Under International Law for Human Rights Atrocities?, Pace International Law Review, Volume 34, Issue 2 (May 2022). Abstract below.
This article examines the relevant international law associated with genocide and hate speech and examines whether there are any legal grounds to hold a corporation liable for how people chose to use its product or service in relation to human rights violations. The analysis begins with a brief overview of international criminal and human rights law, relevant treaties, jurisdictional issues, and the legal theories of corporate criminal liability and complicity. Because current international law provides no clear answer, this article proposes that international courts use a balancing test which evaluates a non-exclusive list of ten main factors.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Jonathan Todres and Anissa Malika, Children's Rights and Human Rights Education Through Museums, Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 239-274 (2022). Abstract below.
Human rights education has been recognized as critical to the advancement of human rights and the promotion of rights-respecting communities. Despite its value, many countries have lagged in their efforts to implement human rights education programs. Where human rights education has gained traction, it has been largely centered around school-based learning. For human rights education to be successful, policymakers and practitioners need to be creative in exploring diverse ways to implement and advance human rights education. This Article argues that it is critical for human rights education and, more specifically, children’s rights education to expand beyond classroom-based learning opportunities to take advantage of other spaces where young people spend time and where education about rights is possible. Given the value of the arts as a vehicle for expressing and advocating for human rights, this Article explores the role that museums might play in advancing human rights education for children. Museums are important fixtures in many cities and towns across the globe. In the United States, nearly 60% of the population visits a museum at least once a year. This gives museums broad reach and the potential to make human rights widely known. Further, shifts currently occurring within museums suggest this is a particularly important time to consider the role of museums vis-à-vis human rights. Many museums are becoming more focused on social justice issues. This evolution occurring in many museums highlights an opportunity for greater and deeper engagement among museum professionals, educators, and human rights researchers and advocates. This Article makes the case for growing and deepening such partnerships. It emphasizes the importance of attention to children’s rights and ensuring that all museums, not just children’s museums, consider their role in engaging young people on the topic of human rights.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
New Article: Regulatory Responses to ‘Fake News’ and Freedom of Expression: Normative and Empirical Evaluation
Rebecca K Helm and Hitoshi Nasu, Regulatory Responses to ‘Fake News’ and Freedom of Expression: Normative and Empirical Evaluation, Human Rights Law Review, Volume 21, Issue 2, (June 2021). Abstract below.
National authorities have responded with different regulatory solutions in attempts to minimise the adverse impact of fake news and associated information disorder. This article reviews three different regulatory approaches that have emerged in recent years—information correction, content removal or blocking, and criminal sanctions—and critically evaluates their normative compliance with the applicable rules of international human rights law and their likely effectiveness based on an evidence-based psychological analysis. It identifies, albeit counter intuitively, criminal sanction as an effective regulatory response that can be justified when it is carefully tailored in a way that addresses legitimate interests to be protected.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
New Article: Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review as a Forum of Fighting for Borderline Recommendations? Lessons Learned from the Ground
Kazuo Fukuda, Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review as a Forum of Fighting for Borderline Recommendations? Lessons Learned from the Ground, 20 Nw. J. Hum. Rts. 63 (2022). Abstract below.
Highly acclaimed as a key innovation of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was created in 2006 as a cooperative, peer-review mechanism to shift away from the highly politicized Commission on Human Rights. Despite the significance and hope attached to the UPR, it has been conspicuously under-examined in the U.S. legal scholarship. And most relevant literature elsewhere has avoided directly addressing the fundamental question of exactly what the UPR’s added value is to the global human rights regime in terms of its direct contribution to improving human rights situations on the ground. This is mainly due to methodological and analytical challenges to measure the impact of the UPR in isolation from other existing human rights mechanisms. While acknowledging such challenges, this article attempts to provide one such answer to the question from a normative perspective: it argues that the UPR’s added value lies in providing a forum to incrementally and constantly challenge the threshold of states under review for accepting their commitment to addressing controversial human rights issues. Drawing from the experiences of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and other countries as well as the literature on peer pressure and acculturation, this article articulates the current issues of the UPR mechanism in terms of recommendations given to states under review by their peers and suggests the way forward for the UPR mechanism by reframing it as a forum of fighting for borderline recommendations.
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Event 6/9: PHRGE Symposium on the Right to a Healthy Environment in US Law: Justice for Communities Today and Tomorrow
Northeastern Law’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) is hosting an online symposium/CLE entitled the Right to a Healthy Environment in US Law: Justice for Communities Today and Tomorrow, which will be held on Thursday, June 9, 2022, from 1:00 - 4:30 ET on Zoom.
To register, visit: https://law.northeastern.edu/event/phrge-symposium-2022/
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
New Article: Climate Competence: Youth Climate Activism and Its Impact on International Human Rights Law
Aoife Daly, Climate Competence: Youth Climate Activism and Its Impact on International Human Rights Law, Human Rights Law Review, Volume 22, Issue 2 (June 2022). Abstract below.
Those who are under-18 are not often associated with the exercise of political rights. It is argued in this article however that youth-led climate activism is highlighting the extensive potential that children and young people have for political activism. Moreover, youth activists have come to be seen by many as uniquely competent on climate change. Youth activists have moved from the streets to the courts, utilising national and international human rights law mechanisms to further their cause. They are not the first to do so, and the extent of their impact is as yet unclear. Nevertheless, it is argued here that through applications such as Saachi (an application to the Committee on the Rights of the Child) and Duarte Agostinho (an application to the ECtHR) they are shifting the human-centric, highly procedural arena of international human rights law towards an approach which better encompasses person-environment connections.
Sunday, May 15, 2022
New Article: The Draft Convention on the Right to Development: A New Dawn to the Recognition of the Right to Development as a Human Right?
Roman Girma Teshome, The Draft Convention on the Right to Development: A New Dawn to the Recognition of the Right to Development as a Human Right?, Human Rights Law Review, Volume 22, Issue 2 (June 2022). Abstract below.
The draft Convention on the Right to Development is being negotiated under the auspices of the Human Rights Council. This article seeks to explore the merits and the added value of the draft in terms of its normative contents particularly compared with its soft law predecessor—the Declaration on the Right to Development. It argues that the draft is a momentous step in the recognition of the right to development as a human right not only because it is binding, if adopted, but also contains concrete, detailed and implementable norms. While it maintained the abstract and aspirational formulation of norms under the Declaration to a certain extent, the draft also addresses some of the prevailing gaps and limitations of the Declaration.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
The Northeastern University School of Law Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) has put together the following resources in light of the recently leaked SCOTUS draft opinion:
- Center for Reproductive Rights, Map of the World's Abortion Laws
- Center for Reproductive Rights, International Human Rights and Abortion: Spotlight on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health (November 24, 2021)
- Amicus Curiae Brief written on behalf of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and other UN mandate holders in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (September 20, 2021)
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 11:00am to 12:00pm ET, online.
Universal Jurisdiction is the doctrine that some offenses (such as atrocity crimes: genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity) are so heinous that they can be prosecuted by any country's domestic judicial system, even if the offenses were not committed on that country's territory, by one of its nationals, or against one of its nationals.
Given the dearth of options to prosecute atrocity crimes and the willingness of some domestic judicial systems to try cases with no nexus to their country's territory, Universal Jurisdiction has recently become a more popular and accepted mechanism for seeking justice for international crimes. This ASIL webinar will explore the history and controversies of Universal Jurisdiction and consider opportunities for contemporary case studies (including Russia-Ukraine and Syria).
- Balkees Jarrah, Interim Director, International Justice, Human Rights Watch
- Wolfgang Kaleck, General Secretary, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
- Zachary D. Kaufman, Associate Professor of Law and Political Science and Co-Director, Criminal Justice Institute, University of Houston Law Center
For more information and to register for this free event, visit https://www.asil.org/event/universal-jurisdiction-controversies-and-opportunities.E
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in May-June 2022 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children – Call for inputs on trafficking of persons in the context of climate change. Deadline May 12, 2022. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities – Call for inputs on armed conflict and disability – the conduct of hostilities, military operations and peacekeeping operations. Deadline May 15, 2022. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment – Call for inputs on human rights, transformative actions and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Deadline May 15, 2022. Read more.
Intergovernmental Working Group on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action – Call for inputs on the UN General Assembly’s global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Deadline May 16, 2022. Read more.
Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent – Call for inputs on the human rights situation of Children of African descent. Deadline May 16, 2022. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants – Call for inputs on the impact of climate change and the protection of the human rights of migrants. Deadline May 16, 2022. Read more.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Accepting submissions for U.S. Review in August 2022. Deadline May 17, 2022. Submissions should be sent to the CERD Secretariat: email@example.com.
Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights – Call for inputs on the impact of toxics on Indigenous peoples. Deadline May 23, 2022. Read more.
Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations – Call for contributions on taxation, illicit financial flows and human rights. Deadline May 30, 2022. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – Call for inputs on racism and the right to health. Deadline June 2, 2022. Read more.
This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Student Note: How the Grand Jury Process Diminishes Black Lives by Supporting Police Brutality and Racism
Although the topic of police brutality and the need for police reform has been a popular topic of debate in recent years, the problem of police brutality is nothing new in the U.S. In the U.S, the harsh reality is that the problem of police brutality against Black people goes far beyond the highly publicized incidents. Police officers disproportionately kill Black people in America with impunity because our system of policing encourages such violence, and our legal system protects the use of such violence.
This Note focuses on the problem of Black lives being unjustly taken by police officers and how there are very few instances where the police officers involved are charged for the deaths in these cases, let alone held accountable for their actions. Specifically focusing on the grand jury process and its downfalls, this Note argues that the grand jury process should not be used in cases of police brutality. Lastly, it calls for action from everyone, especially players in the legal system, in which everyone takes a stand against the problem of police brutality against Black people and understand that Black lives matter.
Monday, April 25, 2022
On April 28, 2022, from 12:45 – 2:10 PM ET, the Northeastern Law Center for Health Policy and Law and the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) will host an online event titled “Data bias in health research: towards a comprehensive human rights framework” with speaker Katharina Ó Cathaoir, Associate Professor in Law, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law.
Politically and in scientific communities, there is increasing recognition that medicine can be biased. One cause is data gaps; with less clinical research on women, children, certain ethnic groups and older people, the medications and treatments offered sometimes do not achieve the intended clinical result because they have not been tested on a representative group. There is a risk that such biases and data gaps will be amplified through data driven medicine if artificial intelligence replicates existing biases. The talk will evaluate how the EU legal framework governing processing of health data accounts for the need to prevent and remediate biases focused on collection and use of health data for scientific research purposes using a human rights lens.
Join the event by clicking here (no pre-registration required): https://northeastern.zoom.us/j/93295781956