Senator Joseph I. Lieberman Conference & Lecture Series on Human Rights Practice
Thursday, April 20th – Friday, April 21st, 2017
Although international human rights are universal in theory, human rights law has long tolerated limits on human rights protections for non-citizens. States deny many basic rights to non-citizens even when they are long-term residents with deep ties to the community, or when their arrival and presence result from a state’s own economic policies, workforce needs, or military or foreign policy decisions. International refugee law imposes limited duties on states with respect to non-citizens outside their borders who are fleeing persecution, but these laws and institutions seem increasingly inadequate for responding to new triggers of forced migration, such as gang violence and climate change. Citizenship as a basis for the denial of rights is most evident, and most fraught, in the context of migration, when individuals often find themselves without the protection of a state. Systematically denying human rights to those in situations of vulnerability precipitated by violence, catastrophe, or economic dislocation—when those conditions are often attributable to the receiving state—seems both morally and practically unjustified.
The purpose of this conference is to consider the relationship between citizenship and human rights through an interdisciplinary lens. The conference will consider “citizenship” in its broadest sense as a proxy for belonging, although the measure of belonging may be legal, political, or social, and both reflects and compounds other sources of inequality such as discrimination on the basis of race and gender. The conference will begin by introducing issues of citizenship and human rights from the perspective of history, philosophy, ethics, and literature. The conference will then connect two strands of “othering” of non-citizens that are routinely tolerated by human rights law—the disparate treatment of individuals within a state’s borders based on citizenship status and the refusal to extend human rights obligations extraterritoriality. In making this connection, the conference will generate discussion about new modes of envisioning the relationship between citizenship and human rights that would enable more effective responses to contemporary global human rights crises of flight, migration, and statelessness.
For further information about the conference, click here.