The Globalization of Indifference

The University of Dayton Human Rights Center's third biennial conference in November will explore challenges to human rights advocacy posed by the resurgence of racism, xenophobia and what Pope Francis has termed "the globalization of indifference."

The Human Rights Center has issued a call for papers for the conference — “The Social Practice of Human Rights: Charting the Frontiers of Research and Advocacy”— Nov. 8-10 at the University’s River Campus.

Research panels and plenary sessions are in development. Keynote and featured speakers include Carol Anderson, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African-American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

Human Rights Center Executive Director Camilo Pérez-Bustillo said the conference will position itself in the context of Pope Francis’ call to overcome a “globalization of indifference” toward the plight of migrants and refugees.

“From our perspective, Pope Francis’ call also draws attention to the intensification of intolerance, extremism, racism and xenophobia which has characterized both European and U.S. politics during the last few years, and to the broader global retreat from human rights that has been rife since 9/11,” he said.

The conference’s plenaries will focus on the need for new strategies to confront three interconnected human rights challenges that have taken on new and alarming dimensions: conflict and the challenge of peace, forced migration, and modern-day slavery.

“Key to the call for papers is the relationship between armed conflicts and processes of forced displacement and forced migration, including cases such as Syria, Colombia and Mexico,” Pérez-Bustillo said.

The Social Practice of Human Rights conference will build on the success of events in 2013 and 2015 that attracted leading human rights advocates from the United Nations, Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, Doctors Without Borders and the World Peace Foundation.

More than 100 scholars from at least 15 countries presented research at those conferences. Select papers were published in The Social Practice of Human Rights (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), edited by Joel Pruce, assistant professor of political science, and in a forthcoming special edition of the journal, Public Integrity.

The Human Rights Center invites proposals for the 2017 conference from University of Dayton faculty and external scholars, practitioners, policymakers and advocates. The center welcomes both theoretical and applied research proposals that capture important trends in human rights scholarship and research.

“We want to insure the participation of a diverse range of scholars and practitioners engaged with human rights issues from the U.S. and across the world,” Pérez-Bustillo said. “We are especially interested in participation by scholars and practitioners based in or engaged with the Global South, and with communities of color and other marginalized sectors.”

Submissions of individual papers, complete panels, roundtables, workshops and practitioner presentations, as well as interdisciplinary and scholar-practitioner collaborations are encouraged.

While there are no restrictions on subject matter, the center is particularly interested in papers and panel proposals that address conflict and mass displacement; nonviolent advocacy strategies; poverty, inequality and exploitation; human trafficking and forced labor; the U.N. sustainable development goals; corporate social responsibility and accountability; Catholic social teaching and human rights; and faith-based approaches to human rights.

Proposals and paper submissions must contain a title; an abstract of 300 words or less; three to five keywords; and a short biographical statement of no more than 200 words for each author, including their name, title and institution or organization affiliation.

Submit proposals by March 17 via the conference website — go.udayton.edu/hrc.

Applicants will be notified of the status of their proposals by May 1.

The University of Dayton is a pioneer in human rights education. It started the country's first undergraduate human rights program in 1998 and offered one of the nation's first bachelor's degrees in human rights studies in 2008.

Pérez-Bustillo, a former adviser to the United Nations and coordinator of a project on human rights along the U.S.-Mexico border, became the Human Rights Center’s first executive director in June 2016. In October, he was part of a U.S. delegation to observe the vote by the Colombian people on whether to accept the peace deal between the Colombian government and the rebel group FARC.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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