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VIRTUAL SERIES - Envisioning the Future: Advancing human rights in a time of crisis

Minnesota Human Rights Lab hosts series exploring human rights post-COVID
April 27, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, how do we identify gaps in human rights protections nationally and internationally? How do we look beyond the immediate and necessary response to the crisis to identify the best strategies for advancing human rights long-term?

The University of Minnesota Human Rights Lab and the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, is providing a space for scholars, practitioners, researchers, and advocates to explore these and related questions through it's virtual series, "Envisioning the Future: Advancing human rights in a time of crisis."

Events in the series are free, open to the public, and accessible via Zoom (

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Revisiting the Right to Health: State responsibility for the highest attainable standard of health in a post-COVID world (view recording)
Thursday, April 30, 2020 | 12:00-1:00p CT

Dr. R. Balasubramaniam (Founder/Chairman, Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement), Lawrence Gostin (Director, World Health Organization Center on National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University), and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (Regents Professor; Faculty Director, Human Rights Center, University of Minnesota); moderated by Barbara Frey (Director, Human Rights Program, University of Minnesota) address the following: human rights standards that guide state's responses to the pandemic; the tension between the public health framework and the human rights framework in approaching the right to health; the political and societal conditions of public health crises, responses to them, and potential violations of human rights in the course of such responses; the rights governments may suspend in health crisis emergencies; and strategies for advancing human rights moving forward.


Balancing Rights and Responsibilities During the Pandemic and Beyond (view recording) 
Thursday, May 21, 2020 | 12:00-1:00p CT

Kathryn Sikkink (Regents Professor Emerita, University of Minnesota; Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School), Dr. Ranit Mishori (Senior Medical Advisor, Physicians for Human Rights; Professor of Family Medicine, Georgetown University), and Joachim Savelsberg (Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair on human rights and genocide, Sociology, University of Minnesota); moderated by Shailey Prasad (Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health; Executive Director, Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility, University of Minnesota.) In her latest book, The Hidden Face of Rights: Toward a Politics of Responsibility, Professor Kathryn Sikkink argues that we should reconsider the responsibility of all actors, and not just states, to take action together to guarantee human rights. This argument takes on urgent relevance in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, when we must rely on the preventive individual actions of all people to ensure the right to health is fulfilled. Panelists discuss this reconsideration of balancing rights and responsibilities in light of the current crisis.


Addressing Racial Inequities in Health Outcomes During COVID and Beyond (view recording)
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 | 1-2p CT 

Featuring E. Tendayi Achiume (UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles), Rachel Hardeman (Professor of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota), and Sirry Alang (Professor of Sociology and Health, Medicine, and Society, Lehigh University); moderated by Shailey Prasad (Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health; Executive Director, Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility, University of Minnesota.)

Structural inequalities between Black and White Americans have always had devastating impacts, and these disparate health outcomes have become even more apparent in the COVID-19 era. Panelists discuss the impact of structural racism on overall health outcomes of black Americans, the framing of police brutality against African-Americans as a public health crisis, how the record of systemic racial injustice in the United States relates to the country's human rights law obligations, racial and economic disparities that exist outside of the U.S., and strategies for addressing gaps on a national and international level to guarantee the right to health in a post-COVID world.

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"Envisioning the Future" is co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Studies.