On March 11, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) and the International Institute for Law and Justice (IILJ) jointly hosted "Affluence and International Human Rights Law," a discussion between Dr. Margot E. Salomon, senior lecturer in law at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and law department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and NYU School of Law professors Philip Alston, who is also co-director of CHRGJ, and Robert Howse, who is director of IILJ.

Dr. Salomon presented her recent scholarship on the issue of how the international human rights “regime” has addressed—or failed to address—the issue of severe poverty. Among many things, she highlighted concerns over the degree to which the international legal community relies on prevailing economic orthodoxy by, for example, seeing inequality as an “incentivizing force” and part of a fair, free market exchange, rather than as constituting a violation of human rights in and of itself. She also raised the problem with human rights as being based on “absolute minimum standards”—which, in her view, is an inadequate approach for looking at the actual gap between the richest and the poorest on the planet. Much of her talk focused on incentives for shifting the international legal community toward one that is capable of looking at scarcity, redistribution of resources, lack of access to power and resources, and finding operationalizing mechanisms for redistributing some of the wealth from the wealthiest in order to eradicate abject poverty.

Dr. Salomon’s presentation was followed by a robust discussion led by Alston and Howse, an engaging Q & A with the audience, and a brief reception.

Posted on March 21, 2010.