The five pieces in this Issue were written by academics and practitioners who presented at the annual JILFA Symposium on February 14 and 15, 2013. The Symposium fostered discussion of pressing human rights issues in the BRICS nations-Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These countries, home to five of the world’s most dynamic economies, hold extraordinary economic and geopolitical promise. Each, however, must also confront substantial human rights issues. Symposium speakers presented on race relations in Brazil, freedom of expression in Russia, women’s rights in India, minority rights in China, and LGBT rights in South Africa. This Issue contains a selection of pieces based on these topics. Available online HeinOnline.
Building Brics: Human Rights in Today’s Emerging Economic Powers; Freedom of Expression in Post- Soviet Russia by Jeffrey Kahn. 18 UCLA J. Int’l L. Foreign Aff. 1 (2013).
This Article assesses the freedom of expression in Russia and prospects for its future: what has the Russian state promised its citizens, in what legal forms have those promises been made, and how well are those paper promises being kept in practice? The Article considers recent state actions and statutes enacted to regulate speech, association, and other forms of expression, and determines that these are possible because of the very weak separation of powers in the Russian Federation. The Article concludes by looking at the European Convention on Human Rights as one hope for a power capable of exerting influence on Russian practices, although it exists outside of Russia. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights established under the Convention present a roadmap for future reform according to standards that Russia has already agreed to accept.
Toward a Jurisprudence of Free Expression in Russia: The European Court of Human Rights, Sub-National Courts, and Intersystemic Adjudication by Robert B. Ahdieh. 18 UCLA J. Int’l L. Foreign Aff. 31 (2013).
Protection of free expression in Russia is headed the wrong direction, but one institution may still be able to slow its backward slide: the Russian judiciary. In particular, sub-national courts-those operating at the ground level-have the potential to shape a renewed jurisprudence of free expression in Russia. To encourage as much, the European Court ofHuman Rights (ECHR) should engage the Russian courts in a pattern of “intersystemic adjudication, “pressing them to embrace ideas about the role of courts, the law, human rights, and free expression more in line with international norms. Hopefully, this can reverse Russia’s current path toward the suppression of free expression.
Sex Selection in the United States and India: A Contextualist Feminist Approach by Sital Kalantry. 18 UCLA J. Int’l L. Foreign Aff. 61 (2013).
Seven states in the United States have passed sex selection abortion bans, bills are pending in several other states, and a bill has been reintroduced in the U.S. Congress. In analyzing state legislative hearings, this article documents how the wide-spread practice of sex selection in other countries, particularly India and China, is being used by anti-abortion groups as a way to restrict women’s right to autonomy in the United States. The dominant feminist paradigm in the United States takes a universal position on sex selection bans – these bans contravene women’s right to autonomy and should not be permitted in any country. But engaging with the true realities of the situation in India, it is clear that sex selection in favor of boys does raise concerns for women’s equality. This article develops a feminist framework to understand sex selection from a global perspective. This approach prioritizes individual women’s autonomy, but suggests that the context in which sex selection occurs should be taken into account and the impact of sex selection on women as a group must be considered. Statutes in the United States that ban sex selection abortion are framed as protecting the fetus from sex discrimination. The contextualist feminist approach, on the other hand, focuses the conversation on the equality of women and girls who are already born. The intent of the individual woman who sex selects is no longer the focus, but the impact (if any) that it has on the equality of girls and women as a group should be the relevant criterion for determining whether or not sex selection should be limited.
Why Women’s Leadership is the Cause of our Time by Rangita de Silva de Alwis. J. Int’l Foreign Aff. 87 (2013).
Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions throughout the world. Yet, studies show that the exclusion of women from politics and public service negatively impacts the public good. Identifying women’s leadership as the economic and moral imperative of our time, this Article explores the way in which greater representation of women in leadership positions yields beneficial results for both women and men, as well as social and economic progress. By examining the reasons for the substantial barriers women face in obtaining such positions, including the masculinization of politics, gendered caregiving responsibilities, and gender violence, this Article concludes that unless women have full and equal participation in policymaking, the full promise of development and democracy will never be fulfilled.
Sovereign Feeling: The South African Constitution, HIV/AIDS, and the Right to Sexual Orientation and Dignity by Neville Hoad. 18 UCLA J. Int’l L. Foreign Aff. 125 (2013).
As the gay rights movement gathered momentum in many parts of the world, countries increasingly started considering if and how to protect the rights of their citizens to be free from discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1996, South Africa, a relatively new country still reeling from the racial discrimination that permeated society during and after the apartheid era and dealing with the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic, became the first country in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution. This Article provides perspective into how this constitutional change has been perceived and experienced in South Africa by examining three texts that discuss the emotional, political, and personal impact that the constitutional change has had on the individual writers in the context of everyday life, building political tensions, and professional responsibility. How the people of South Africa both react to this constitutional change and are personally affected by it on an emotional and societal level will provide insight into how other nations might address this issue in the midst of complex social and political environments. In seeking to analyze if the constitution has had the impact it intended, this Article looks beyond the surface political impact and analyzes the change from public and political perspectives.
Available online at HeinOnline.