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Human Rights @ Harvard Law

Areas Of Focus

Sexual & Reproductive Rights

Sexual and reproductive rights are at the frontier of today’s human rights advocacy. Since the 1990s, UN conferences relating to human rights, population and development, and women have served as platforms for advocates to make visible the important connections among sex, sexuality, reproduction and gender in the human rights movement. Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and reproductive and sexual health- including abortion- are now recognized as human rights issues. These rights are linked to fundamental questions of personhood, equality, dignity, justice, citizenship, and health. Advocates advance arguments that gender-based and sexual violence, as well as discrimination due to gender inequality or non conforming gender/sexual identity and practices, amount to violations of sexual and reproductive rights, whether committed by a state or a non-state actor.


From right: Pélagie Ebeka, of the International Center for Transitional Justice,  Ankita Ritwik, JD ’13, Michelle Dowst, JD ’13, and Immaculée Birhaheka, of Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Féminines, on a fact-finding mission in Democratic Republic of Congo to document reproductive rights violations.

The International Human Rights Clinic works globally, in partnership with international and local human rights non-governmental organizations, to strengthen and develop norms related to sexual and reproductive rights, as well as to implement these rights and hold those accountable for rights violations in specific settings and issues. Clinical teams have undertaken fact-findings in various African and Latin American countries, leading to report writing and advocacy at major international conferences and before UN and regional human rights bodies. The Clinic, with local partners, also submits shadow reports on LGBT rights to various UN treaty bodies.

The Academic Program regularly hosts lectures and conferences on sexual and reproductive rights, including a conference on the use of criminal law in regulating gender, reproduction and sexuality in May 2012, which will lead to a publication. We also regularly partner with the law school’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, and the Health Rights of Women and Children Program at Harvard School of Public Health.


Point Person for Sexual & Reproductive Rights: Mindy Roseman

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