Borders, the Pandemic & Human Rights
We cohosted our annual symposium with UCLA Law’s Journal of International and Foreign Affairs, Center for Immigration Law and Policy, and the Williams Institute on February 26, 2022.
The symposium examined how different identities mediated access to rights in the context of the pandemic, and the creation or reinforcement of borders, through the lenses of race, (dis-) ability status and sexual orientation and gender identity.
The symposium was bookended with keynotes from E. Tendayi Achiume, UCLA Law Professor and UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, and Soledad García Muñoz, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.
Keynote Speech I
Watch Keynote I
Soledad García Muñoz, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.
Race and Ethnicity
This panel looked at borders, the pandemic and human rights through the lens of race and ethnicity. Using multiple perspectives, including Critical Race Theory and Third World Approaches to International Law, the panelists explored how various racial identity markers themselves become borders mediating access to rights, in the context of migrations and global pandemics.Watch Panel
- John Reynolds, Maynooth University
- Karla McKanders, Vanderbilt Law School
- Matiangai Sirleaf, University of Maryland School of Law
- Odilia Romero, Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO)
- Aslı Bâli, UCLA School of Law
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
While SOGI discrimination may cause migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to flee their country of origin, socially derived SOGI borders continue to exist inside territorial boundaries and impact immigration practices. This panel addressed how international and domestic law contributes to the reinforcement of SOGI borders and SOGI-based denial of human rights, particularly in the context of the COVID pandemic.Watch Panel
- Macarena Sáez, Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch
- Kimahli Powell, Rainbow Railroad
- Ari Shaw, Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law
- “LGBTI+ Asylum Seekers in South Africa: A Review of Refugee Status Denials Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” by B Camminga
- Rainbow Railroad 2020 Annual Report: “Understanding the State of LGBTQI+ Persecution” by Kimahli Powell et al
- Vicky Hernandez v Honduras, Inter-American Court of Human Rights Judgement of March 26, 2021
Student Paper Presentation
International law is currently establishing a framework for protecting Indigenous traditional knowledge, however a thorough analysis of customary international law demonstrates sufficient global consensus to support an understanding that Indigenous communities already have a customary right to traditional knowledge protections.
UCLA Law student Bharath Gururagavendran, LLM spoke to his research on the implied rules derived from customary norms and their implications for human rights protections of Indigenous people’s traditional knowledge. UCLA Law Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl provided commentary.Watch Student Paper Presentation
This panel sought to address how the social conception of disability status drives and impacts migration, and serves as a barrier to those attempting to access and utilize domestic power structures and institutions. It also considered how the challenges faced by persons with physical and mental disabilities are exacerbated in the context of global pandemics.Watch Panel
- Katherine Pérez, Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation
- Ron McCallum, University of Sydney Law School (Professor Emeritus)
- Mary Crock, University of Sydney Law School
- Brad Sears, Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law
- “Swift and Systematic? Identifying and Recording Disability in Forced Migration” by Mary Crock and Laura Smith-Khan
- “Where Disability and Displacement Intersect: Asylum Seekers and Refugees with Disabilities” by Mary Crock, Christine Ernst and Ron McCallum
- “The Protection of Vulnerable Groups” by Mary Crock
Keynote Speech II
E. Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Alicia Miñana Chair in Law, UCLA Law ProfessorWatch Keynote II