Human Rights, Civil Rights, and the Struggle for Racial Justice


Thursday, February 4, 2021, 5:00pm to 6:30pm



From documenting historical incidents of mass racial violence to taking protests against police brutality to international forums, social justice lawyers have long turned to human rights law and strategies to advocate for racial justice in the United States. At the same time, US legacies of exceptionalism, isolationism and nationalism pose challenges for what is a fundamentally universalist human rights project. This event will explore how international human rights approaches are being used in conjunction with domestic civil rights advocacy to push for law and policy change in the United States. Panelists will speak about their work raising awareness of, and seeking accountability for, racial injustice, while reflecting on circumstances in which the international human rights framework presents an imperfect vehicle for mobilizing change.

Speakers will include:

  • Nicole Austin-Hillery, Executive Director, U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch
  • Maryum Jordan, Counsel for the Special Litigation and Advocacy Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
  • Gay McDougall, Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham Law School

Moderated by: Aminta Ossom, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law, International Human Rights Clinic

This event is organized by the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and co-sponsored by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal. It is the second in a series of events examining racial justice and human rights. Register on zoom via the HRP website.