ESRG Schedule 2019-2020

October 11-12, 2019
Annual ESRG Workshop
Dodd Center
“Environmental & Climate Justice: The Existential Challenge of Economic Rights”
Friday, October 11, 4:00PM – Opening Keynote address Catherine Flowers (Founder, Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise Community Development Corporation; Senior Fellow, Center for Earth Ethics, New York), Reception to follow in the Dodd Lounge
Saturday, October 12, 8:00AM – 4:00PM – Panels and discussion

January 28,2020 12:30PM
Professor Meina Cai (UCONN Political Science)
{Co-Sponsored jointly by Political Economy Workshop}
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162 – coffee and tea provided
“The Art of Negotiation: The State, Society, and Development of Land Property Rights in Distorted Markets”
Abstract: Secure property rights are fundamental to economic growth and prosperity. In China formal legal institutions on land property discriminate against rural land by design and result in distorted land markets where rural land must go through state expropriation to be tradable in urban land markets and the resulting land-taking compensation that villagers receive is calculated at below market values. This research examines how the state and society interact to shape the development of land property rights in China. It finds that land-losing villagers use negotiation that takes place in a non-hostile manner as a means to engage with local governments and improve their compensation arrangement. More importantly, what they negotiate about focuses on local specific considerations that are not specified in formal compensation policy –– which I call “non-programmatic compensation.” Such type of compensation negotiation is acceptable to both the local government and land-losing villagers: it allows villagers to capture additional land values without pushing their local government to raise compensation standards that apply elsewhere within administrative jurisdiction. One of the consequences is the development of fragmented compensation regime where formal compensation standards remain low and stagnant while villagers improve their land rights through non-programmatic compensation which varies across localities and across projects of land expropriation.

February 18,2020 12:30PM
Professor Nishith Prakash (UCONN Economics/HRI)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162 – lunch provided
“Wheels of Change: Transforming Girl’s Lives with Bicycles”
Abstract: We study the impact of a program that provides a bicycle to a school-going girl who lives more than 3km from school. We randomized whether a girl receives a bicycle with a small cost to her family to cover replacement parts, a bicycle where these costs are covered by the program and so is zero cost to the family, or a control group. We find that the bicycle reduced average commuting time to school by 35%, decreased absenteeism by 27%, improved math test scores and led to girls expressing higher feelings of control over their lives. We also find evidence that girls who received bicycles with the small cost to her family had higher levels of aspirations, self-image and a desire to delay marriage and pregnancy, possibly due to the girls perceiving the payment from the family as a desire to increase future investment in her. We do not find any impacts on school dropout and grade transition. Heterogeneity analysis by distance to school shows an inverted u-shape for most of the schooling and empowerment results, suggesting that impacts are greatest for girls that live far, but not too far, from school. This also suggests that empowerment outcomes worked through schooling effects.

April 23, 2020, 12:30PM
Professor Joel Oestreich (Drexel University)
{Co-Sponsored as an HRI Lunchtime Seminar Series event, jointly with International Studies Association (ISA); India Studies; and the Business & HR Initiative}
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162 – lunch provided
“Development, Human Rights, and the Universal Periodic Review in South Asia”
Abstract: The connection between the Universal Periodic Review process and the Sustainable Development Goals is now well established, as is the link between the SDGs and a Rights-Based Approach to Development. What is left to do is to close the circle by tying development assistance to the UPR. This paper examines how the UN development machinery is trying to do this. Using examples from South Asia, it shows that UN development agencies are using the UPR process to promote a rights-based approach, and in turn are assisting states in the UPR process. This opens new possibilities both for development assistance and human rights promotion in developing states.

ESRG Schedule 2018-2019

October 26-27, 2018
Annual ESRG Workshop
Dodd Center
“Popular Mobilization for Economic Rights: Exploring Grassroots and Community-based Experiences, Strategies and Outcomes”

November 1, 3:30PM
{Co-Sponsored with the HRI Human Rights Practice Cluster}
Room: Dodd 162
“Critiques and Counter-critiques of Human Rights: Book group discussion of Samuel Moyn’s Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World”

January 25, 12:30PM-2:00PM
Susan Randolph (Economic, Emerita; Co-Director, ESRG)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“The HR Measurement Initiative (HRMI): An overview and progress update”

February 18, 12:30PM-2:00PM
Davis Chacon-Hurtado (Postdoctoral Fellow, Engineering & Human Rights)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162 – Coffee served
“Accessibility to Jobs: A (Human) Right for Everyone?”
“Exploring the role of worker income and workplace characteristics on the journey to work”
Abstract: Transportation accessibility is defined as the ability or capacity of a location to be reached or the capacity to reach activities and services by individuals. Accessibility to employment is, therefore, influenced not only by the supply of employment opportunities (attractions) but also by the ability of individual stakeholders to reach those job opportunities. Empirical evidence shows that this ability varies significantly with socioeconomic characteristics such as gender or income. However, traditional measures of accessibility in regional infrastructure planning usually assume that all residents of a given planning zone have the same level of accessibility regardless of their socioeconomic status; moreover, the impedance levels are assumed to be the same for all groups. Accounting for this variability is an important aspect of paradigms and regulations that strive for the fair and equitable distribution of benefits and dis-benefits of transportation projects. In that view, this presentation will provide an overview of how accessibility to jobs, reflected in commuting patterns, vary according to socioeconomic characteristics in the US. In addition, it will provide an overview of an alternative modeling approach to overcome the challenge of considering socio-economic characteristics to predict the journey-to-work patterns of individual workers. This approach uses a multinomial logit model paired with an agent-based model and data retrieved from the US Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) 5-year database.

March 1, 2:45PM – 4:00PM
Zehra Arat (Professor, Political Science) and Dabney Waring (Graduate student, POLS)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“Automation Anxiety and the Right to Work”
Abstract: The increased pace of automation in recent years has stirred both fascination and anxiety. As there has been a continuous decline in well-paying jobs in manufacturing in industrial societies, numerous studies predict that more workers will face the risk of losing their jobs to automation within the next decade or so, both in developed and developing countries (e.g., 47% in the United States, 77% in China and 85% in Ethiopia). The resulting displacement of workers into low-wage, low-security work (largely into the service-providing industries) engenders economic anxiety, concurring with (if not causing) increased xenophobia and right-wing populism in the West. Living in “the age of human rights,” this “crisis of automation” requires a reconsideration of the meaning and realization of “the right to work.” This paper attempts to do so through a survey of major political theories that address work, the right to work and the potential of automation. It examines different conceptions of “work” in various traditions (religious, liberal capitalist, and socialist), the socio-historical origins of the “right to work,” and some major philosophical interpretations of the relationship between automation and work. Noting the interdependency of human rights and especially the close connection between the right to work and other particular rights, such as the rights to life, livable wages, and leisure, the goal is to identify proposals that might resolve the tension between automation and “employment,” by treating automation as an opportunity. Through a brief review of some major philosophical traditions, the paper identifies four proposals: Guaranteed Full Employment, Universal Basic Income, State Socialism/Planned Economy, and a Marxist-Socialist Approach. All four address the claims underlying the “right to work” and interrelated rights to various degrees, without necessarily positing waged work as the vehicle of their fulfillment. In other words, automation presents an opportunity to conceptually de-link work from subsistence and fulfill various human rights typically related to the right to work.
Zehra Arat is Professor of Political Science at UConn. Her research focuses on theoretical and empirical questions related to human rights, with an emphasis on women’s rights.
Dabney Waring is a second-year PhD student in Political Science. His current research deals with the intersection of work and technology.

March 25, 12:30PM – 2:00PM
Sara Hossain (Bangladesh Legal Aid and Service Trust)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“A lawyer’s perspective on Economic Rights and Remedy”
Sara Hossain is a barrister practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, mainly in the areas of constitutional, public interest and family law, since 1992. She is associated with several legal aid and human rights groups nationally and internationally. Currently, Sara is serving as Honorary Director of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Service Trust. She is also Chairperson of the Dhaka-based human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra Internationally, Sara is, among others, a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Member, of the Human Rights Committee of the International Law Association (ILA), Member of the Advisory Committee of the Women’s International Coalition on Gender Justice (WICG), and also served as a Board Member of the South Asia Women’s Fund (SAWF).

Sara earlier ran the South Asia Programme at INTERIGHTS from 1997 to 2003, and was involved in supporting human rights litigation before national and international courts including the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Committee on the use of international and comparative human rights law, on a multi-country study on honour crimes (together with the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, SOAS), and on training and organizing dialogues and colloquia for judges and lawyers.
Sara was educated at Wadham College, Oxford (MA (Hons) 1988), called to the Bar from Middle Temple (1989) and enrolled in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (1992) and then in the Appellate Division in 2008. For additional details, see:
The Justice Project (work on remedy):
Berkeley Talk:

ESRG Schedule 2017-2018

Tuesday October 3rd, 12:30-2:00PM
{Event co-sponsored with HRI Global Health & Human Rights Program and the Department of Political Science]
Takiyah Harper-Shipman (Carnegie Mellon University)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“The Audacity of Choice: the limitations of reproductive rights in West Africa”

October 5-6, 8:30AM – 5:00PM, both days
{co-sponsored with Business & Human Rights Program]
Room: Dodd Center, Konover Auditorium
ESRG Workshop, to coincide with conference “Protecting Human Rights at the End of the Line: Stakeholder Engagement in Light Manufacturing”

Tuesday November 7th, 12:30-2:00PM
{Event co-sponsored with Business & Human Rights Program]
Stephen Park (UConn School of Business)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“Business and Human Rights as an Epistemic Community: Paths Taken, Paths Forsaken”

Thursday December 7th, 12:30-2:00PM
Derek Johnson (UConn Dept. of Economics)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“The Economic Implications of American Slavery’s Jurisprudence”

Thursday February 8th, 12:30-2:00PM
{Event co-sponsored with Political Economy Workshop]
Beth Simmons (University of Pennsylvania, Dept. of Political Science)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
“The Built Environment: State Presence at Border Crossings in the Modern World”

Thursday April 19th, 12:30PM – 2:00PM
Rachel Wahl (U-Virgina & ESRG Affiliate)
Room: Babbidge Library
Abstract: Wahl will explore themes from her book, Just Violence: Torture & Human Rights in the Eyes of the Policy, which uncovers the beliefs that motivate officers who use and support torture, and how these beliefs shape their responses to international human rights norms.
Also, see Wahl @ 4 p.m. Humanities Institute (Babbidge Library), on “Risky Talk: Public Deliberation Across Deep Divides” focusing on the findings from two studies: one of deliberative dialogue in the most challenging circumstances, occurring between groups who occupy unequal positions and concerning the highest of stakes: police and communities of color. The second study examines deliberative dialogue between university students who voted for opposing candidates in the 2016 presidential election. The presentation examines whether and how people learn from each other in these exchanges, as well as the political and ethical implications of asking people to learn from their adversaries through deliberation.

Friday April 20th, 12:30PM-3:00PM
{Event co-sponsored with Human Rights Institute/Economic & Social Rights program; El Instituto; and the Political Economy Workshop]
Metanoia on the Environment event on “Climate Justice: Conversations Across Barriers and Borders”
Room: Konover Auditorium, Dodd Research Center
Addressing the formidable challenges that climate change presents to humanity will require unprecedented collective action at global, national, and local levels. Despite the unquestionable importance of acting collectively, neither the causes nor the effects of climate change are distributed uniformly across national boundaries. Moreover, the discriminatory effects of climate change are not restricted to international borders, as evident from the extensive reportage of climate-related disasters in the United States and elsewhere. The state of Connecticut has welcome a significant number of climate refugees from Puerto Rico, which gives the member of UConn community to hear about their experiences and improve understandings of these critical issues. This Metanoia event will focus not only on a conversation with members of the Puerto Rican community displaced by Hurricane Maria and settled in the state, but also on the comparative perspective of climate justice advocates from India and parts of Africa.

ESRG Schedule 2016-2017

Thursday September 29th, 4PM
Lauren MacLean (Indiana University)
Room: Student Union 320
** Coffee & tea provided

“Social Rights and Participatory Health Policymaking: The Negotiating of Citizenship” by American Indian Tribal Nations in the U.S.
Abstract: American Indian and Alaska Natives experience the greatest and most persistent health disparities of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. For example, the life expectancy for AI/ANs is only 73.7 years of age, as compared to 78.2 for the US all races population. One effort to address these stark inequalities in health outcomes is the development and expansion of tribal consultation in health policy in the US. Initiated by President Clinton in 1994, and continued by executive order until today, we now live in a new era of tribal consultation. Citizenship is being negotiated in different ways by American Indian tribal nations and populations through participatory health policymaking. For the past two decades, tribal consultation has been predicated on the idea of political rights of sovereignty as tribal nations. This conceptualization is frequently invoked by tribal leaders and some federal officials who insist on the exercise of a government-to-government dialogue regarding the formulation and implementation of health policies that affect tribal communities. I argue that tensions emerge when other federal and state government officials operate on the basis of a neoliberal understanding of stakeholder rights, or when urban Indian leaders mobilize on the basis of a liberal conception of health care as an individual human right. These contrasting conceptualizations of rights have resulted in contestation over who is invited to participate in tribal consultation and whether the participatory policymaking process is viewed as meaningful.

Friday October 21st, 1:30-3PM
Alyssa Webb (Doctoral candidate, POLS)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
** Coffee & tea provided

“You Can’t Sit With Us: International Law, Human Rights, and Homelessness”
Abstract: In 2005 the United Nations estimated at least 100 million people were homeless worldwide (UN Economic and Social Council 2005). Despite the magnitude of this problem, both international and domestic policy communities have failed to implement policy that humanely addresses the needs of homeless persons. The lack of consistency in effective policy response is a direct consequence of the failure of the international community and domestic actors generally to hold states accountable for the poor treatment of homeless persons. Discussions of homelessness are concretely connected to broader questions about what it means to have rights, and to have those rights respected (Failer 2002). The rights of homeless persons are vulnerable to political attack as long as their status as rights bearers can be questioned without consequence. This dissertation explores the capacity of international law to substantially improve both the public perceptions of and policy responses to homelessness by creating a constructivist-based model of human rights norm diffusion. This model combines current knowledge on the demographics and determinants of homelessness, the types of policies enacted by states to address homeless populations, and contemporary explanations of human rights norm diffusion to produce a theoretically grounded explanation regarding how to regulate state interactions with homeless persons. This study will substantially expand the disciplines understanding of homelessness generally, and also demonstrate the importance of incorporating societal treatment of the homeless into our considerations of how the state utilizes power, both at domestic and international levels.

Friday November 4th, 12:30 – 2:00PM
[Event co-sponsored with Political Economy Workshop]
Phil Harvey (Rutgers Law)
Room: Student Union 104
** Coffee & tea provided

“Designing and Drafting Legislation to Secure Economic & Social Rights: The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment & Training Act (HR 1000)”
Abstract: Phil Harvey is the principle architect with Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) of the above legislation. Since bills have to be resubmitted in each new session of Congress, Rep. Conyers uses the break between sessions to revise the bill for refiling. The current version is the third; Harvey joined the design and drafting effort after the first iteration and will be revising the bill once again for filing in the new session of Congress. He has begun thinking about changes and improvements, and would welcome feedback, input and suggestions from the ESRG and others at UConn. In addition to reviewing the bill, Harvey will discuss what Rep. Conyers views as the role legislative initiatives like this play in the struggle to secure human rights, as well as his personal involvement in this particular initiative, the challenges involved in playing the roll he’s assumed, and how this work differs from other types of economic and social human rights scholarship.

Monday December 5th, 12:30PM
[Event co-sponsored with Eversource Energy Chair, UConn School of Business]
David Nersessian (Babson College)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
** Coffee & tea provided

“Big Data, Big Business, Big Problems: An International Human Rights Perspective on Legal and Ethical Standards”
Abstract (abbreviated): This paper focuses on the intersections between big data analytics and international human rights law.  It considers the extent to which international human rights law operates (or fails to operate) as a legal or ethical constraint on the commercial use of big data.  Do widely-accepted human rights that are not legally enforceable nevertheless operate as bright line ethical standards that guide (or should guide) technology-driven business decisions? This paper suggests that they can and they should.  Human rights can play an important role in shaping business thinking about the proper handling of big data in modern society.  The current dialogue – with its focus on privacy and property rights – is framed too narrowly.  Business interests, as well as governmental policymakers and the general public, should engage in a broader discussion about the extent to which human rights provide ethical standards of corporate behavior as well as legal proscriptions.

Wednesday February 8th, 2:30-4PM
Nishith Prakash and Sungoh Kwon (UConn, Economic) and S. Anukriti (Boston College)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
** Coffee & tea provided

“Daughters & Dowry: Marriage Payments & Consumption Spending”
Abstract: In this paper we examine parents’ response to the birth of a girl relative to a boy on savings as a function of future dowry payments using a nationally representative household data from rural India (REDS-2006). If daughters are costlier than sons because the former require dowry payments at the time of marriage, parents of first-born girls may smooth their consumption by: (i) saving more, (ii) consuming less, (iii) buy more durable goods (especially, gold and jewelry), and (iii) increasing their labor supply. If dowry is the reason for this consumption smoothing behavior, the effects of a gender shock should be larger for parents who expect higher dowry payments in the future. Our empirical findings suggest that the impact of a gender shock on per-capita savings is larger for parents who expect higher dowry payments in future. In addition, fathers also respond by increasing their labor supply. We also find considerable heterogeneity by land-ownership, caste, religion, and parents’ education.

Tuesday March 21st, 12:30-2PM
Katie Young (Boston College Law School)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
** Coffee & tea provided

“Rights and Queues: On Distributive Contests in the Modern State”
Abstract: Two legal concepts have become fundamental to questions of resource allocation in the modern state: rights and queues. As rights are increasingly recognized in areas such as health care, housing, or immigration law, so too are queues used to administer, but also to contest, access to goods, services, or opportunities in conditions of scarcity. This paper is the first to analyze the concept of queues (or temporal waiting lists) and their ambivalent, interdependent relation with rights. After showing the conceptual tension between rights and queues, the paper argues that queues and “queue talk” present a unique challenge to rights and “rights talk.”  In exploring the currency of both political and legal discourses, the paper illustrates how participants discuss and contest the right to housing in South Africa, the right to health and patient rights in Canada, and the right to asylum in Australia. It argues that, despite its appearance in very different ideological and institutional settings, the political discourse of “queues” and “queue jumping” commonly invokes misleading distinctions between corruption and order, markets and bureaucracies, and governments and courts. Moreover, queue talk obscures the first order questions on which resource allocations in housing, health care, or immigration contexts must rely. By bringing much-needed complexity to the concept of “queues,” the paper explores ways in which general principles of allocative fairness may be both open to contestation and yet supportive of basic claims of rights.

Tuesday, April 25th, 1:30-3PM
Jorge Aguero (UConn Econ)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162
** Coffee & tea provided

“Health Consequences of Schooling for Disadvantaged Women in Zimbabwe”
Abstract: The gains of educating women in developing countries are hard to quantify. This problem arises from the difficulty to establish causal effects as better-off families are more likely to send their daughters to school limiting our capacity to isolate the effect of schooling from income, wealth or preferences. My research advances this literature by using a natural experiment in Zimbabwe ending apartheid-style policies that prevented black Zimbabweans to go to school. The timing of the implementation allows me to identify the effect of schooling independent from other possible confounding variables. My research shows that, for women, schooling provides large health benefits. I show that educating disadvantaged women reduces their HIV infections rates and induces preventing health behaviors. Schooling has also a positive externality on their families. Parents and children of educated women, who benefited the reform, have better health outcomes. Thus, the gains from educated disadvantaged women are large as they extend to their families.

ESRG Schedule Spring 2015

Wednesday, January 21st, 2:30-4PM
Benjamin Carbonetti (UConn POLS)
Room: Thomas J. Dodd Center Room 162

“State Capacity and Human Rights: Examining the tools of repression.”
Abstract: It is well accepted that states are the primary duty bearers when it comes to ensuring the human rights of their citizens are respected, protected, and fulfilled. Despite this recognition the role the state can and does play is in human rights outcomes is still largely unexplained. After developing a new more precise and detailed measure of state capacity, this project identifies many patterns in how different state characteristics can lead to better or worse outcomes for both civil and political rights, and economic, social, and cultural rights around the world. The ultimate goal of the project is to help provide a stronger foundation for scholars and policymakers to study and make recommendations to states with an aim of promoting human rights in both developing and developed countries.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 4:00-5:00 pm
Richard Locke
(Snow date: February 23, 2015)
Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Center

Richard M. Locke is the Howard R. Swearer Director of the Watson Institute for International Studies and a professor of political science and public and international affairs at Brown University. Locke was named a 2005 Faculty Pioneer in Academic Leadership by The Aspen Institute and awarded the MIT Class of 1960 Teaching Innovation Award in 2007 and the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching in June 2008. He currently chairs the Apple Academic Advisory Board, a group of independent academics who are working with Apple to improve labor conditions among the company’s suppliers.

To view the live video feed of Professor Locke’s lecture, please click the following link, and scroll down to the bottom for the “Annual Economic and Social Rights Lecture, 2/23” here.

Friday, February 20th, 2:30-4PM
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (The New School)
Room: Library Lecture Center Class of 1950 2nd level
“Human Rights Monitoring: Progressive Realization versus the Violations Approach”

Friday, February 27th, 2:30-4PM
Jane Gordon (UConn POLS)
Room: Library Lecture Center Class of 1950 2nd level
Discussion of Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty

Wednesday, March 11th, 2:30-4PM
Audrey Chapman (UConn Health Center)
Room: Library Lecture Center Class of 1950 2nd level

“Human Rights Requirements for Achieving Universal Health Coverage”
Abstract: Universal health coverage is a goal to which many countries aspire. It is also at the center of current efforts to strengthen health systems and improve access to health services. There is no human rights definition setting out the specifics of what universal health coverage entails, but In 2005 the World Health Assembly defined universal coverage “as access to key promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health interventions for all at an affordable cost, thereby achieving equity in access.” This presentation will explore the human rights requirements as to: (1) who are the “all” in terms of the members of society who are to be the beneficiaries; (2) what meaningful access entails; (3) which types of health services are essential to provide in a minimum core health benefit basket of key promotive, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative health interventions; (4) what affordability necessitates; and (5) in a situation of limited resources, how to equitably move toward universal health coverage.

Friday April 3rd, 2:30-4PM
Semahagn Gashu Abebe (UConn Human Rights Institute)
Room: Library Lecture Center Class of 1950 2nd level

“Prospects and Challenges of Ensuring the Right to Food in Ethiopia”
Abstract: Ethiopia has long been associated with the famines that have plagued its people in the last half century. In the last decade, however, the country has made significant strides due the various government and the international donor community interventions that aimed at addressing hunger and malnutrition in the country. Despite the various efforts, Ethiopia is still one of the food insecure countries where millions of people need food aid every single year. The paper addresses the entrenched structural and institutional factors that hindered the prospects of realising the right to food in Ethiopia.

Friday, April 17-18.
Spring ESRG 2015 Workshop, “Global Justice & Extra-Territorial Obligations”

ESRG Schedule Fall 2014

September 11, 2014 @ 12:30 p.m. – Location – Dodd 162

Lea Shaver (Indiana University – Law)

“The Right to Read”

Abstract: The paper central to this talk develops a theory of “the right to read,” exploring its normative bases and its legal implications. The Article begins by locating the right to read at the intersection of norms found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: freedom of expression, the right to education, minority rights, the right to science and culture, and the right to development. Next the Article identifies three essential aspects of the right to read: liberty (the freedom to read), capacity (education for literacy), and availability (ready access to free or affordable reading material). While the importance of freedom and literacy are already well established and understood, the problem of access to reading material remains a blind spot of public policy and scholarship. The Article therefore explores the access problem in particular depth, examining issues of cost, distribution, format, and language barriers that currently make it impossible for most people worldwide to meaningfully enjoy the right to read. The Article also explores the legal implications of recognizing the right to read as a universal human right, including proposing specific reforms to copyright law.

October 7, 12:30-2:00 p.m. – Dodd Center Lounge

Nishith Prakash (UConn ECON)

Do Criminal Representatives Hinder or Improve Constituency Outcomes? Evidence from India”

Abstract: The recent increase in the number of criminally accused politicians elected to state assemblies in India has caused much furor. Despite the potentially important consequences and the widely divergent views, the implications of their elections on constituency-level economic performance are unknown. Using a regression discontinuity design and data on the intensity of night lights in satellite imagery of the constituencies, our results suggest that the cost is quite high. Using estimates of the elasticity of GDP to light, we find that the election of criminally accused candidates lead to roughly 5 percent lower GDP growth per year on average. These estimated costs increase for candidates with multiple accusations or accusations regarding serious crimes.

November 3, 12:30-2:00 p.m. – Location Dodd 162

Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

“Local Funds and Political Competition: Evidence from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India”

Abstract: This paper examines how local politics affects public fund allocations. It uses the context of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in India. NREGS represents one of the biggest public programs for employment in the developing world. It was introduced by the federal government, which was headed by the Indian National Congress (INC). Using longitudinal data on funds sanctioned and election results from two rounds of elections in Rajasthan, a state in India, we find evidence of funds being used strategically by parties. Higher funds are allocated to sub-districts where the INC had lower vote share in the previous elections. Endogeneity problems are addressed by looking at close elections. We give evidence of a mechanism that highlights the role of a political representative in the funds sanctioning process. The paper points out to larger problem of using the decentralized apparatus of local political bodies to guide public fund allocations in developing countries.

November TBA

Ana Luiza Gama (Estácio de Sá University/UNESA, Brazil)

“Monitoring the right to adequate food in Brazil: an analysis from human rights indicators and their application to public policies”

December 2, 12:30-2:00 p.m. – Location – Dodd 162

Zehra Arat (UConn POLS)

“Human Rights & Economic Justice: Re-Reading the Qur-an & the International Bill of Rights”

Abstract: Drafting of the documents that constituted the International Bill of Rights (IBR) was both an intellectual and political process that involved deliberations on the rights and corollary responsibilities recognized in various cultures.  Many Muslim-majority states participated in the process and subsequently adopted/ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two International Covenants, and other human rights treaties of the United Nations.  Yet, there has been also a resistance to fully accepting the international human rights law. As demonstrated by the Arab Spring and subsequent political developments, while human rights and social justice have been the underlying demands of the public at large, the meaning of these terms or their link to Islam is far from being uniform or clear.  This paper focuses on economic rights and tries to identify the features of economic systems promoted in the IBR and the Qur’an.  In addition to identifying the overlapping areas, the purpose is to draw attention to alternative interpretations of Qur’anic verses and their emancipatory promise, which is also embedded in the IBR, but is often undermined by the ruling elite both in Muslim-majority and other states.


Note that the meeting time has been changed from previous years, due to the university-wide change in the class schedule.

Thursday, October 24

Dr. Mary Anderson, University of Tampa
12:30pm – 2:00pm Dodd 162

Friday, November 15

Dr. Lanse Minkler and Dr. Nishith Prakash, UConn
12:30pm – 2:00pm Dodd 162

Thursday, December 5

Allison Corkery, Center for Economic and Social Rights
2:30pm – 4:00pm Dodd 162


Calendar Archive