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.
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, 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.
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Kristina B. Daugirdas, Funding Global Governance, Law & Economics Working Papers. 216 (Oct. 1, 2021). Abstract below.
Funding is an oft-overlooked but critically important determinant of what public institutions are able to accomplish. This article focuses on the growing role of earmarked voluntary contributions from member states in funding formal international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Heavy reliance on such funds can erode the multilateral governance of international organizations and poses particular risks for two kinds of undertakings: normative work, such as setting standards and identifying best practices; and evaluating the conduct of member states and holding those states accountable, including through public criticism, when they fall short. International organizations have devised strategies for mitigating these risks, but those strategies are generally not codified in formal policies and are not visible to the public. This Article argues that more formal regulations are needed and outlines some possibilities for the form they might take.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
New Article: Judging Women Who Kill Their Batterers in the United States: A Violation of Their Right to Equality Before the Law Under the ICCPR
Paulina Lucio Maymon, Judging Women Who Kill Their Batterers in the United States: A Violation of Their Right to Equality Before the Law Under the ICCPR, American University International Law Review, Vol. 37: Iss. 1, Article 3 (2022). Abstract below.
Research suggests that when women commit an offense against another’s life, they often do it in the context of domestic violence. Nevertheless, state and federal courts in the United States continue to ignore or inappropriately consider female defendants’ histories of domestic abuse and trauma in their criminal trials for killing their abusers. Many courts in the United States taint female defendants’ criminal trials by injecting gender biases and stereotypes, which often leads to miscarriages of justice. This Comment argues that the United States has violated female defendants’ rights to equality before the law under article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) through its courts, which have discriminated against them on the basis of sex in their criminal trials for killing their abusers. National and local statistics and the criminal trials of five women convicted and sentenced for killing their batterers are analyzed to prove this violation. The Comment provides recommendations to prevent future violations and to provide redress to the women whose human rights were infringed. Although this article focuses on the United States, it outlines a pathway for women in other jurisdictions to assert their rights to equality before the law, under the ICCPR, when courts judge them based on myths and stereotypes.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Joseph Marguiles, In US v. Husayn (Abu Zubaydah), the Supreme Court Calls Torture What It Is, Just Security (March 11, 2022). Excepts below.
"As I read the decision, Abu Zubaydah can rely on 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1782 to depose the architects of the CIA torture program, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, about what they saw, did, smelled, heard, and said – in short, about whatever their senses revealed to them – between December 2002 and September 2003, in support of a foreign criminal investigation underway in Poland."
"There is a space where conservative and liberal voices join. It is the belief that government service is a privilege, but only when government is honorable. When elected leaders betray their allegiance to the law and abandon their faith in the cleansing power of the truth, they must find no quarter in the Court."
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Katharine Young, Human Rights Originalism, Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 110, No. 5 (2022). Abstract below.
Are human rights to be found in living instruments and practices that adapt to changing circumstances, or must they be interpreted according to their original meaning? That question, so heavily debated in the context of the rights of the U.S. Constitution, was never seriously on the table until 2020. But when former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “fresh thinking” about human rights, and its connection with “our nation’s founding principles,” he brokered a return to two landmark instruments of human rights—the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. His Commission on Unalienable Rights obliged, presenting the familiar tropes of fixed sources, venerated authorship, and national identity, in order to accomplish a drastically different presentation of the meaning of human rights. The end result is an act of fusion—the powerful political and cultural valence of America’s constitutional originalism, applied to the human rights of American foreign policy.
This Article identifies this innovation as “human rights originalism.” Although the Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights has, at least for now, been shelved, human rights originalism may be one of the most enduring legacies of the Trump Administration. As an interpretive theory, human rights originalism promises many of the same benefits as its constitutional counterpart—simplicity, popular reach, and control of rights’ unruliness and proliferation—this time wrested from unaccountable United Nations institutions and experts rather than courts. As a substantive departure from contemporary human rights, human rights originalism elevates the importance of religious freedom and property rights, and provides a selective diminishment of women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial equality, mirroring and further cementing current trends in originalist constitutional doctrine. The four standard epistemic communities that supply “meaning” to human rights—in the international, comparative, transnational, and philosophical domains—are all rejected by originalism, just as those domains are themselves inimical to it.
This homegrown form of human rights argument is significant for human rights law and foreign policy, but so too is it significant for originalism itself. In propelling originalism into the uncompromisingly global domain of human rights, originalism’s proponents expose the nationalism and exceptionalism that are perhaps its most unsettling features. At the same time, originalism’s own malleability is highlighted in its adaptiveness to the modern administrative state and the promises of the postwar period.
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
David Abraham, Group Rights and Individual Minority Rights in Immigrant Societies, Then and Now (2021). Abstract below.
The history of the past century or more suggests that “peoples,” however defined, may have their present and future collective needs realized in one of three ways. They may aspire to their own titular state, self-determination, where they predominate and act collectively; they may rely on the recognition and provision of reliable collective minority rights (with greater or lesser autonomy in a more or less territorially-defined multi-peopled space); or they may advocate for a regime of strong “liberal,” non-discriminatory individual rights for all in which (significantly weakened) collective identities are lodged in the private sphere. Not every option is equally available to all peoples; they face different hurdles as they themselves inevitably evolve over time from disparate starting points and with different strengths and weaknesses. Indigenous minorities, religious minorities, racial minorities, immigrant minorities, etc. will inevitably approach their situations differently from each other and in different concrete situations. Nonetheless, these three patterns –self-determination, guaranteed minority rights, and universalist individual rights—define the terrain on which struggles take place.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
The third edition of the ABA Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development has been published.
This book is a comprehensive legal guide to the development of affordable housing for practitioners and housing advocates. It covers all aspects of the development process, including zoning and building codes, financing, monitoring and enforcement of regulations, preservation of affordable housing, and relocation requirements. It also includes brief chapters on the history of affordable housing and the future of affordable housing.
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Suzanne Katzenstein, Reverse-Rhetorical Entrapment: Naming and Shaming as a Two-Way Street, 46 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 1079 (2021). Abstract below.
"Naming and shaming," the process of exposing, publicizing, and condemning human rights abuses, is one of the most important and common strategies used by human rights advocates. In an international political system where power is typically defined in terms of military strength and market size, advocacy groups draw on a mixture of moral and legal means to pressure governments to improve their human rights behavior. In general, the mere act of naming and shaming can promote human rights norms by reinforcing the shared understanding that some types of government conduct are beyond the pale.'
Naming and shaming may also work more specifically through a dynamic of "rhetorical entrapment." Moral and legal censure pressure the targeted government to respond to criticisms about its conduct either by expressing public support for human rights norms or by signing human rights treaties. Over time, advocacy groups use such instrumental concessions to press the targeted government further to stop its abusive practices. Words that initially appear to be cheap gestures can, with the passing of time, have powerful effects.
Monday, January 24, 2022
Austin A. Baker and J. Remy Green, There Is No Such Thing As A “Legal Name”, 53.1 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 129 (2021). Abstract below.
The phrase “legal name” appears everywhere. And wherever it appears, it seems to come with an assumption that it picks out one, clear such name for each person. So, do “legal” names as the phrase is commonly understood really exist? As far as federal and most state law is concerned, it turns out the answer is a clear no.
This article seeks to highlight the legal, moral, and philosophical wrongness of the notion that people have one uniquely identifying legal name. To do that, we survey the status of names in various legal domains, highlighting that legal consensus tends to be that there is no one “correct legal name” for individuals (if anything, people often have many “legal” names). We argue this common notion that every person has a single, clearly defined “legal” name is a kind of collective delusion we all seem to share (emerging somewhere in the late twentieth century), but is not grounded in legal or social reality. To address this harmful delusion, we present a series of ready-to-cite conclusions about the current state of the law and introduce a normative framework for how institutions and individuals ought to choose between people’s various legal names. Engaging with legal theory, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of language, we discuss the social function of names and argue that names enable people to communicate important social information about themselves—which can include their gender, religion, and familial relations. Thus, we conclude by arguing that individuals and legal institutions have a normative responsibility to respect peoples’ preferred legal names, thereby allowing them to authentically represent these facets of their social identities.
Sunday, January 16, 2022
Lisa Cosgrove and Allen F. Shaughnessy, Mental Health as a Basic Human Right and the Interference of Commercialized Science, Health and Human Rights Journal (2020), https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/2469/2020/06/Cosgrove.pdf. Abstract pasted below.
Although there is consensus that a rights-based approach to mental health is needed, there is disagreement about how best to conceptualize and execute it. The dominance of the medical model and industry’s influence on psychiatry has led to an over-emphasis on intra-individual solutions, namely increasing individuals’ access to biomedical treatments, with a resultant under-appreciation for the social and psychosocial determinants of health and the need for population-based health promotion. This paper argues that a robust rights-based approach to mental health is needed in order to overcome the effects of commercial interests on the mental health field. We show how commercialized science—the use of science primarily to meet industry needs—deflects attention away from the sociopolitical determinants of health, and we offer solutions for reform.
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Evaluating the Implementation of Human Rights Law: A Data Analytics Research Agenda, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 43, 2021 Forthcoming. Abstract below.
The United Nations’ reporting process, a built-in component of all major human rights treaties, enables monitoring and evaluation of countries’ progress toward human rights goals. However, the operation and effectiveness of this process have been largely under-studied. This Article lays the foundations for a data analytics research agenda that can help assess the reporting process and inform human rights law implementation. As a first step, we use a relatively new set of computational tools to evaluate the Concluding Observations issued by a human rights treaty body, the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Concluding Observations provide both an appraisal of states’ practices and a set of recommendations that act as an agenda for the state going forward. Using text and data analytics tools, we mined the text of Concluding Observations issued by the Committee on the Rights of the Child over a twenty-seven year period to identify the topics addressed in each report and parsed the language of these reports to determine the tenor and tone of the Committee’s discussion. We then mapped our findings by state and year, to form a detailed descriptive picture of what the Committee has said, and how the Committee has delivered its message(s), across both geography and time. In doing so, we hope to show how these data analytics tools can contribute to a deeper understanding of the Committee’s work and, more broadly, of the effectiveness of the reporting process in securing and protecting human rights.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Martha F. Davis, Access to water is a human right. When will the U.S. government agree?, WBUR (Nov. 3, 2021). Excerpt below:
“Water is life, and water policy should be a central concern of nations as they gather for the COP26 in Glasgow this week. The need to prioritize water is all around us: more flooding and drought, the growing incidents of water contamination and rising costs of maintaining potable water for drinking, cooking and hygiene.
For the first time at a U.N. climate conference, concerned members of the water sector — governments and non-governmental partners — have come together to sponsor a Water & Climate pavilion where attendees can hear from experts, conduct side discussions, network and engage with youth activists around water issues. The stated intent is to develop a ‘unified voice on the role of water in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and to support ambitious and science-based global climate action.’
Unfortunately, the United States has often been on the sidelines during international discussions of water challenges.”
Monday, November 1, 2021
David Birchall, Corporate Power over Human Rights, Encyclopedia of Business Ethics (October 4,2021), Abstract Below.
The business and human rights (BHR) movement has developed rapidly since the 1990s, in lockstep with spiralling corporate size, wealth and influence. BHR attempts to hold corporations to account for human rights abuses. As such it does not address corporate power directly, and it is not of fundamental importance to BHR whether corporations are growing more powerful in relation to governments, society, or smaller businesses. Rising corporate power, does, however, have marked effects on access to human rights.
Corporations evidently hold the power to abuse human rights and to avoid accountability for these abuses. This clear from numerous major cases, from the Bhopal gas leak to the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, both of which resulted in major fatalities and demonstrated the failures of current practices, regulation and remedy. Environmental degradation with fatal consequences, modern slavery, and complicity with oppressive regimes are all examples of corporations using their power to further their profits through rights abuse.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Laura T. Dickinson, National Security Policymaking in the Shadow of International Law, Utah Law Review, Vol. 2021, No. 3 (2021). Abstract below.
Scholars have long debated whether and how international law impacts governmental behavior, even in the absence of coercive sanction. But this literature does not sufficiently address the possible impact of international law in the area of national security policymaking. Yet, policies that the executive branch purports to adopt as a wholly discretionary matter may still be heavily influenced by international legal norms, regardless of whether or not those norms are formally recognized as legally binding. And those policies can be surprisingly resilient, even in subsequent administrations. Moreover, because they are only seen as discretionary policies, they may be more easily adopted than formal legal interpretations. For all of these reasons, the impact of international law on national security policymaking is a crucial unexplored area in the debate about the efficacy of international law.
This Article describes how the norms and values embedded in international human rights law can sometimes be adopted, if not as a matter of formal law at the international level, then as a matter of official policy and practice. In addition, it surveys the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach, using two different Obama administration counterterrorism policies and Trump administration successor policies as case studies. Ultimately, I argue that the emergence and persistence of such policies is evidence of international law’s constraining impact. International law, it turns out, casts a long shadow as its paradigms get translated into policy. I also analyze the attributes of these policies, including their “legalistic” character and the consequences of creating policies of this type. This analysis suggests that importing international law paradigms into national security policymaking can be a pragmatic and effective alternative to formal international lawmaking, though it also may side-step the process of creating robust new international law rules. Therefore, it is a practice that executive branch officials from the United States and other countries, human rights organizations, and administrative, constitutional, and international law scholars should at least consider, while weighing both the pros and cons. In addition, the stickiness of such policymaking, even across administrations, illustrates the importance of institutional path dependence, the role of lawyers, the constraint of interoperability with key U.S. allies in multilateral military actions, and the way norms get embedded in government organizations.