Arlene Kanter Speaks on International Disability Rights at Northeastern Law

Posted on Monday 1/8/2018

Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence and Director of the Disability Law and Policy Program Arlene S. Kanter presented her talk “Gendering International Disability Rights” at a Nov. 17, 2017, Northeastern University School of Law symposium entitled “International Law, Local Justice: Human Rights Transformed.” The symposium honored Northeastern Law Professor Hope Lewis, an expert in human rights and women's rights law, who passed away in December 2016.  

“I chose this topic because in 2012 Professor Lewis and Stephanie Ortoleva wrote ‘Forgotten Sisters, Violence Against Women with Disabilities,’ an article that greatly influenced my own work in human rights and disability, particularly my work on violence against girls and women with disabilities,” explains Kanter.

Since 2014, Kanter has worked with Handicap International on a project to raise international awareness about violence against girls and women with disabilities. In 2015, HI produced a report, co-authored by Kanter, entitled “Making It Work Initiative on General and disability Inclusion: Advancing Equity for Women and Girls with Disabilities"[PDF]. Kanter has presented this report to the UN Committee on the Status of Women and at the Conference of State Parties of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

In her talk at the Northeastern Law symposium, Kanter discussed the role of international human rights law in protecting women and girls with disabilities from violence and highlighted work that needs to be done in this area since such laws have been inadequate to end such violence.

“In my presentation, I drew on research that my former students, Milanoi Koiyiet (LL.M. ’15) and Carla Villarreal Lopez (LL.M. ’17) conducted concerning the treatment of women and girls with disabilities who are subjected to violence in their home countries of Kenya and Peru, respectively,” Kanter explains.

Kanter has accepted an invitation from the Symposium conveners to contribute to a special issue of the Northeastern University Law Review honoring Hope Lewis and her work in the area of human rights law. Her article, co-authored with Villarreal Lopez, is forthcoming.

Currently on sabbatical from the College of Law, Kanter was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School for the fall semester, and she is currently a Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University Faculty of Law for the spring semester. At Hebrew University, Kanter will teach a course on International Human Rights and Comparative Disability Law to law students and students enrolled in Hebrew University’s new interdisciplinary Disability Studies program, which Kanter helped to develop. During her sabbatical year, Kanter also will complete several scholarly articles and begin a new book on international human rights treaties and disability law.