(Call for Papers) Bringing Human Rights Home: Bridging the gap between the international and domestic frames for human rights in the United States

Posted by UCLA JILFA, community karma 31


(In connection with the Reimagining Rights in the Americas Conference and the 187th Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights)  

The UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs (JILFA), the Promise Institute for Human Rights, and our partners in the Bringing Human Rights Home Network, (Northeastern Law Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, American University Washington College of Law Clinical Programs,  and the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) are excited to host a Symposium at the UCLA School of Law on March 4th, 2023.  


JILFA will be publishing a special edition in connection with the Symposium. We invite interdisciplinary paper submissions on the intersection of the international human rights framework with the domestic legal, political, and social frameworks in the United States, with a particular emphasis on critical perspectives on both the international and domestic frames and the struggles of impacted communities for social justice and their human rights. We are accepting Article submissions from scholars and practitioners. We will give special consideration to papers on the following clusters of topics: 


Perspective 1: The United States and the Human Rights Project Writ Large: Where are the gaps between the domestic and international human rights regimes and why do those gaps exist? How are the distinctions between “civil”, “constitutional” and “human” rights, the historical moment in which each emerges and their subsequent development relevant to understanding these gaps? How has each regime dealt with the different moments/foci of human rights generation (individual rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; the individual and collective rights of historically excluded and oppressed groups; environmental rights and the rights of the environment itself)? What role has U.S. exceptionalism had in the interplay between the domestic and international human rights regimes? What pathways and obstacles exist for greater U.S. accountability in the international human rights framework and the Inter-American System for Human Rights specifically? What has been the role of the U.S. in the Inter-American System for Human Rights and how has the Inter-American Commission interacted with the U.S.?   

In seeking answers to these questions, we realize that a more fundamental critique and analysis of the human rights frame may come into play: How is the human rights frame bound up with liberal democracy, neo-liberalism, and the structural legacies of colonialism, settler-colonialism, the slave trade and empire? How is the discourse of human rights reinscribed into structural hierarchies of power and inequality? What are the limits and contradictions found within the human rights frame on both the domestic and international levels, and can the use of the human rights frame be a transformative, liberatory project?  


Perspective 2: the Struggle for Human Rights in the United States: Here we seek to prioritize research that aligns with rights-based social movements and movements for social justice that intersect with the human rights frame. Which social movements in the U.S. align with the human rights project and how? Which social movements in the U.S. today are invoking the human rights frame and how are they seeking to shape the discourse on human rights? Which social movements are using international human rights mechanisms and to what success? What are the short and long-term strategies for using international human rights mechanisms to achieve social change? Which international human rights mechanisms have proven effective in these struggles? How has the use of the Inter-American System for Human Rights served as a tool in this struggle? A preference will be given to critical perspectives on these questions, assessing limits and potentialities of these mechanisms and paths towards expanding their relevance.  

Potential focus areas of social movement and human rights inquiry include:  

  • Reparations and reparative justice  

  • Indigenous peoples’ rights  

  • Environmental justice/environmental racism, access to water and the right to a healthy environment  

  • Criminal justice system and the death penalty  

  • Racialized policing/police violence 

  • Rights of the unhoused/criminalization of poverty 


Perspective 3: the United States in the International Arena: What are the applications of the international human rights frame to U.S. actions beyond its borders? How is this particularly impacted by economic interests and legacies of colony, empire, and U.S. hegemony? How can movements of global justice hold the United States accountable under the international human rights framework?   

Potential focus areas of inquiry include:  

  • The rights of persons in human mobility/externalization of the border; technology, human rights, and border surveillance  

  • Global justice with respect to intellectual property, technology transfers, and the role of the U.S.  

  • Development models and U.S. and U.S. corporations’ accountability for human rights violations in the Americas and abroad  

  • Climate justice on a global stage and the U.S.  

  • Human rights accountability for U.S. military actions abroad   

  • Citizenship rights in U.S. territories  


If you wish to submit an abstract for consideration to be included in one of the paper workshops or for consideration for publication by the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, please include the following: 


Submission Information for Abstracts 

  1. Abstract of no more than 400 words describing the paper you wish to present and/or publish 

  1. Cover letter with: 

  1. Your name, institutional affiliation (if any), and email address 

  1. Five key words associated with the paper 

  1. Indication of which conference theme the paper addresses 

  1. C.V. (no longer than 2 pages) 


The deadline for abstracts is November 14th, 2022, by 5pm Pacific Time. Please submit materials to jilfa@lawnet.ucla.edu with the subject line: 2023 Symposium Abstract. Only complete applications will be reviewed. Successful applicants will be notified via email starting on November 28th, 2022, until all spots are filled.  


If your abstract is accepted, the deadline for full articles will be January 30th, 2023, by 5pm Pacific Time. The guidelines for full papers are available on our website at https://law.ucla.edu/academics/journals/journal-international-law-foreign-affairs. Please reach out to jilfa@lawnet.ucla.edu with any questions. 

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