Wednesday, March 8, 2017
As millions of women around the globe celebrated International Women's Day, most were encouraged to take the day off. In Australia, for example, child care workers left their jobs at 3:20 pm, the time of day at which they begin working for free in comparison with what men are paid. In Dublin, women protested the Catholic Church's control over their bodies through anti-abortion policies. In Dakar women demonstrated their solidarity while planning a larger demonstration on July 31, African Women's Day. While women did leave their jobs in many instances, some could not afford either financially of professionally to abandon their jobs. Particularly, caregivers. But their voices were heard nonetheless.
What women could do was show up and be counted. Whether marching or wearing red at work, women gave witness to ongoing oppression. Since the Women's Marches in Washington, DC and around the world, women have been active in ways not seen since the '70s. And there is much to protest.
President Trump tweeted that he respects women (a la Billy Bush). Yesterday Trump demanded that planned parenthood agree to stop performing abortions or lose its federal funding and a threat was made to women and children at the borders. And let's not forget the global gag rule, prohibiting any overseas organization from receiving federal funding if abortion is offered as an option. The President respects the role that women play in our economy. One is hard pressed to find a women in a significant role in this administration. If the women in Trump world took the day off, the male team would hardly notice. BFF Vladimir Putin praised women for their "beauty and vitality" and for that apparently remarkable yet underappreciated ability to show up on time. Meanwhile, seven women were arrested outside of the Kremlin for demonstrating against 200 years of male leadership.
Women protested around the world "for equal rights and in the United States against Donald Trump." Their mobilization is not a fluke. It is a sustained effort to protect women's rights globally. The movement, like their members, has staying power.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Emily Whelan Parento & Lawrence Gostin have posted an abstract of their new article Relitigating the Right to Health, arguing that a replacement for the Affordable Care Act need not abandon the principle of universality. Yes, it seems like a pipe dream, but given the fluctuating politics of this issue, it's critical to get these arguments out into the public discourse. Here's the abstract:
The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) represented a fundamental change in the nature and scope of the human right to health in the United States. The design and intent of the ACA was to establish a universal health care program, pursuant to which all U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents would have a right to access affordable health insurance with comprehensive benefit coverage. Although short of fully inclusive in scale and scope, the ACA through its universality nonetheless represented a significant step toward fuller realization of the right to health. Moreover, the ACA moved the U.S. closer to the systems of most other developed countries, where universal health care programs have long been established. Following the 2016 elections, the likely repeal of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in public relitigation of the right to health care in the United States, presenting an opportunity for policymakers to affirm the principles of the right to health as a replacement plan is negotiated.
This paper argues that as the dialogue proceeds, the U.S. has an opportunity to learn from other countries and frame reform efforts to reflect core principles of the right to health. Arguments in favor of repealing ACA often rely on a premise that a universal coverage program is economically unsustainable, necessitating limitations on the scope and scale of coverage. But this is a false choice – other developed countries have consistently demonstrated that universal coverage of essential health services, along with superior health outcomes, can be achieved at a significantly lower per capita cost than the current U.S. system. Thus, rather than retreating from the ACA’s universality in an effort to contain costs, the U.S. should instead do as other developed nations have done and ground its health care system in the right to health, designing the system to affirm the universal right to essential health services. Health care systems that respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health compel rejection of barriers to access, including excessive cost-sharing and threshold conditions for eligibility such as mandatory job training or volunteerism. Rather, a right to health approach should lead policymakers to rebalance the existing resource allocation to prioritize population health outcomes, including measures such as a heightened focus on access to primary care, development of a robust public health infrastructure to support healthy lifestyles, an increased focus on value-based payment mechanisms that promote population health, enhanced price and quality transparency for all health services, and a reconsideration of the role of government in pharmaceutical and health services pricing. While repeal of the ACA may represent a retreat from attainment of a universal health care system in the U.S., there is nonetheless an opportunity for policymakers to use the forthcoming reform effort to reshape the system in a way that promotes the right to health and leads ultimately to improved population health.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Prior to January 20th, the Obama administration wisely distributed information to an assortment of government officials related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Various government players were holders of pieces of information relative to Russian hacking and other election interference. Concerned that intelligence might disappear upon Trump's assumption of office, the administration ensured that a sufficient number of individuals, including key congressional players, had sufficient information to continue the investigation even in the face of denial and opposition.
Russian interference with the election is no longer theoretical. The highest legal officer in the country lied to congress about his relationship and contact with the Russian Ambassador. Attorney General Sessions lost whatever credibility he had when he assumed office. The Attorney General lied under oath and has no claim to remain in office.
Trumps denied any knowledge of Session's meeting with the Russian Ambassador, although his closest advisor, son-in-law Jared Kushner was present at the meeting.
The President knows that should an investigation result, Russian interference with the election will not be the main story. The President's complicity with the interference will be.
Having learned from the "birther" controversy that many voters will believe whatever he says, Trump has resorted once again to the outrageous as a tool to divert attention from Russian election interference and Trump's role in that interference.
Thus the latest: President Obama wire tapped Trump Tower. Nancy Pelosi dubbed the President Deflector-in-Chief.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre have partnered with Liberty Asia to develop a legal case map of all human rights litigation against corporations. This valuable resource is available here and enables readers to search by topic, company, and legislation relied upon. The project covers a broad range of cases including labor rights violations, human trafficking, climate change and environmental degradation, crimes against humanity, child labor and more. It’s worth a look for anything interested in these issues or human rights litigation generally.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
The American Political Science Association recently posted the video of Kathryn Sikkink's plenary address from its 2016 annual meeting. Titled "Are We Making Progress on Human Rights? Transformations in Knowledge and Activism," the talk lays out Professor Sikkink's arguments that the so-called death of human rights has been greatly exaggerated. Sikkink directly and methodically challenges the pessimistic rhetoric that has infected human rights writing and punditry in recent years. In fact, she argues, rigorous academic analysis suggests that there is much reason to hope. This talk provides a preview of Sikkink's next book, Making Human Rights Work: Evidence for Hope.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Jootaek Lee, a senior law librarian and scholar at Northeastern Law School, and co-author Maraya Best, research fellow at NUSL's Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, have just posted an extensive annotated bibliography on the right to water that is sure to be of use to both researchers and advocates. The paper is available on SSRN here. Here is the Abstract:
Countries, small and large, developed, or developing, all have issues relating to water in terms of quality, quantity, and access. These issues need imminent and efficient solutions because of the critical importance of water to human health, life, and dignity; A lack of water can lead to death from dehydration, as well as other serious diseases and risks. Women, children, minority groups, indigenous peoples, refugees, and prisoners are most vulnerable to water problems.
The goal 7.C of the Millennium Development goals (“MDGs”) based on the United Nations Millennium Declaration (“Millennium Declaration”) set a target to reduce by half the portion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. The goal, however, could not be fully reached due to the various reasons, including physical water scarcity, the failure of institutions, lack of infrastructure, poverty, and rapid growth of population.
A wide variety of solutions to solve the issues and problems relating to water have been suggested by international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and human rights activists as well as national governments. The solutions were provided in order to address the matters directly or indirectly originated from various roots, such as poverty, inequality, and political, social, cultural, and environmental challenges. In addition, one of the most promising approaches to solve the water issues is to legally recognize access to water as a human right.
Researching right to water issues involves a wide variety of documents produced by various entities, including inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and states. Research is made more difficult by the complex reasons and motivations behind the right to water, the difficulty of defining water and the right to water, the diversity of stakeholders involved — including indigenous people and minority groups — the complicated and interdisciplinary nature of research — including data, statistics, strategies, and implementation plans — many different types of legal sources to search — including international treaties, custom, general principles of law, jurisprudence, soft law, and domestic statutes. The research is a mixture of international and domestic legal research and non-legal research.
In order to ease away the difficulty of researching right to water, this article first investigates various definitions of water and right to water and identifies the difficulties of this research. Next, this article delineates the history of laws relating to water and various mechanisms and international principles that can be useful for protecting the rights of indigenous and local people. Finally, the article selectively reviews several books and articles that provide excellent starting points for right to water research.