workshop descriptions


April 1 (WCC 1010)


Fire In the Blood, WCC 1010, 7 pm

 “Fire in the Blood” is an award-winning documentary about health policy and international trade which will serve as the pre-symposium kick-off event. The film is a shocking exposé of how pharmaceutical companies use patent law to keep profits unconscionably high even at the expense of peoples’ lives. It tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the Global South in the years after 1996 - causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths - and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back. It is a plea for universal access to affordable, life-saving generic medicines. The film includes guest speaker Luis Gil Abinader from Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), who will moderate a short post-film conversation. Indian food will be served. Event is free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by Harvard Advocates for Human Rights, Harvard Human Rights & Business Association, and the Human Rights Journal


April 3 (Milstein West)


Intellectual Property & Access to Medicines in the global south, 12-1 pm

Professors Margo A. Bagley and Ruth Okediji will discuss their work on the international intellectual property regime and its relation to the entrenchment of global inequality. The discussion will center on the implications of international intellectual property and the multilateral trading regime for access to medicines in the Global South. The workshop will offer critical analyses of recent developments in national patent laws and will review current efforts to reform the global patent system. The panel will also offer a deeper view of the legal framework that undergirds the development of new pharmaceutical drugs, which has been a key driver behind the push for international efforts to protect genetic resources.

with Ruth Okediji (Harvard Law School) and Margo Bagley (Emory University School of Law)

WOrkshop: The Reality of Rights in the developing world, 1-3pm

This workshop will examine the organization, exercise, and sustainability of human rights throughout the Global South. Topics will include the difficulties and opportunities of widening access to medicine, the role that oil and extraction industry revenues can play in the guarantee of human rights, and the urgency of ensuring that persons of all abilities be recognized in the “human” of human rights. This discussion will be an opportunity to tackle some of the most difficult problems in ensuring that basic needs are recognized and provided in the developing world and beyond. Come for a presentation and interactive discussion over the current state of affairs for rights in the developing world and various visions for how to improve it.

with Professor Lucie White (Harvard Law School), Dr. Paul Harpur (University of Queensland), and Mr. Peter Maybarduk (Public Citizen), moderated by Zekariah McNeal (J.D. ‘21); co-sponsored by Harvard Advocates for Human Rights, Harvard Human Rights & Business Association, and the Human Rights Journal


April 4 (WCC 2012)


Lessons From Activism & Academia: Tech, Health, & Political Economy, 12-1 pm

Professors Amy Kapczynski and Yochai Benkler will talk about their work on technology, health, and political economy. Themes will include the future of robots, labor automation, the fallacy of technological determinism, and the allyship between activism and academic movements. As a student fellow, Kapczynski was one of the co-founders of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), a student-led organization advocating for the prioritization of global public health benefits in academic medical research. UAEM was first formed in 2001 by a group of Yale University students who were in a reading group with Benkler, then visiting professor at YLS. The students helped convince Yale and the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to permit generic production of a critical Yale-discovered HIV/AIDS drug in sub-Saharan Africa, triggering dramatic 30-fold price reductions. Today, Benkler and Kapczynski write regularly on technology and political economy and have convened a recent academic symposium on the topic. Benkler has contested several current theories that suggest phenomena like automation of labor are inevitable or predetermined. Kapczynski has played a seminal role in the coalescing movement of “law and political economy” (LPE). The workshop will begin with presentations on the topic by the two speakers before moving to an informal discussion that will trace some lessons from activism, academia, and the relationship between the two.

with Professor Amy Kapczynski (Yale Law School) and Professor Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School)

Addressing Global Inequality: What can law do? 1-3 pm

The long-term growth of global inequality presents unique challenges to the law. This panel will center on the legal dynamics that drive the genesis, elaboration, reinforcement, and maintenance of hierarchies of privilege and disadvantage across individuals, groups, nations, and regions. Panelists will identify key legal drivers of the growing wealth gap as well as propose changes in legal ordering that could shift bargaining power, (re)distribute resources in a more equitable manner, or otherwise ameliorate inequality’s negative effects. The discussion will span various areas of public and private law, from the relationship between human rights and economic fairness to the different ways that financial advantage is coded into law, thereby shaping the distribution of wealth.

with Professor Katharina Pistor (Columbia Law School), Professor Samuel Moyn (Yale Law School), and Professor David Kennedy (Harvard Law School)


April 5 (Pound 102)


Money, finance, & sustainable development, 12-1 pm

Economic stagnation, financial crisis, and increasing inequality have provoked worldwide debate about the “winners” and “losers” of globalization. This panel will offer a deeper view of law’s role in the creation and distribution of wealth in a financialized world. The linkages among law, money, and finance drive the macroeconomic dynamics that bring growth, employment, and long-term wealth accumulation. Opinions have long varied, however, over what legal and institutional structures are best suited to yielding a more equitable economic order. The panel thus engages in this debate with an eye toward democratizing access to capital, re-orienting finance toward public ends, and reconstructing the global political economy in the service of sustainable, inclusive growth.

with Professor Christine Desan (Harvard Law School) and Professor Robert Hockett (Cornell Law School) ; co-sponsored by Harvard Law Forum

Workshop: What is Law & (International) Political Economy? 1-3 pm

Scholars and practitioners working in a "law and political economy" framework observe that democratic political processes have lost control over fundamental decisions about how resources are allocated in our society. Instead, legal doctrines enable champions of capital to subordinate democracy to “the free market.” Professor David Singh Grewal and students will lead a discussion about how to challenge and expand modes of legal thinking which embed the economy in social life —  whether those challenges begin by pushing back against the normalization of “law and econ” frameworks in first year law school or countering corporate power in an increasingly globalized international market. This workshop is an interactive discussion about how legal rules concentrate economic and political power amongst social groups, especially on the international stage, and will explore topics such as the relationship between labor and capital and different frameworks of economic governance. 

Professor David Singh Grewal (Yale Law School) in conversation with Ava Liu (J.D. ‘20) and Hyun-Kyung Yuh (J.D./Ph.D); co-sponsored by Harvard Law Forum