2022 Symposium

Physical borders regulate rights, resources, and responsibilities, but they are not the only borders that impact the division of people. Rather, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status all operate as borders that allocate resources and rights among different people all over the world. Individuals separated by miles face radically different living conditions because of the social impact of these constructed boundaries, which is exacerbated by intersectional discrimination. This has been especially evident in the Covid-19 context where the experience of the pandemic has been different according to how individuals identify and to which social structures they are subject. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together people who do work on these different social structures and identity markers to discuss the ways international law has shaped the experience of the pandemic.

Professor E. Tendayi Achiume
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

The symposium will explore the topic through three panels: 


  • Panel 1:  Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    This panel will address the way sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”) serve as borders that undermine the realization of international human rights for LGBTQ+ individuals in the domestic sphere. While SOGI discrimination may cause migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to flee their country of origin, socially derived SOGI borders continue to exist even inside territorial borders and impact immigration practices. This panel will address how international and domestic law contributes to the reinforcement of SOGI borders
    and SOGI-based discrimination.
  • Panel 2: Race & Ethnicity
    This panel will address how race and ethnicity serve as social barriers to those attempting to access and utilize domestic power structures and institutions. This panel will thus use multiple lenses, including a Critical Race Theory and Third World Approaches to International Law, to explore how various racial identity markers become borders that mediate access to rights, and it will consider how these borders undermine the realization of international human rights for BIPOC individuals in the domestic sphere, particularly in the
    context of global pandemics.
  • Panel 3: Disability 
    This panel will seek to address how the social conception of disability status serves as a social barrier to those attempting to access and utilize domestic power structures and institutions. While this panel will explore how these disability borders undermine the realization of international human rights in the domestic sphere, it will also consider how the challenges faced by persons with physical and mental disabilities are exacerbated in the context of global pandemics.
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