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Affirmative Action after SFFA: Is the US in Violation of International Human Rights Law?

September 28, 2023

12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

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WCC; 2004 Classroom

Affirmative action event poster

Join us for the discussion “Affirmative Action after SFFA: Is the US in Violation of International Human Rights Law?”

The event is hybrid. Virtual participants can register on Zoom. HUID holders are invited to attend the discussion in person at WCC 2004 of Harvard Law School. Lunch will be served to in-person attendees.

Many are concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Students for Fair Admission (SFFA) decision, which invalidated affirmative action in public and private college admissions, could open the door to similar challenges in other areas such as employment, public procurement, federal grant recipients, and voting rights. Affirmative action has been an important, though insufficient, tool in the struggles to overcome the consequences of chattel slavery and legally enforced systems of segregation and more recent discrimination.

In addition to eroding the capacity of the United States to tackle de facto inequality, the SFFA decision may also result in failure to meet U.S. remedial obligations under international human rights law. Specialized human rights bodies of the United Nations and the regional body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have previously expressed concern over the systemic nature of racial discrimination in the U.S. and commended its use of special measures including affirmative action to overcome the legacy of racial discrimination. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has already issued a statement under its early warning and urgent action procedure calling on the U.S. to take effective measures to address the adverse impacts of the SFFA decision.


Gerald L. Neuman (moderator)
Guy-Uriel E. Charles
Gay McDougall
E. Tendayi Achiume
Justin Hansford

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September 28, 2023, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

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