Human rights conference

Gonzaga Law Human Rights Conference

2022 Update:

This year's Human Rights Symposium is planned for May 27, 2022 with an opening social occurring the evening prior. For more information regarding this program, contact Professor Upendra Acharya, Director of Global Legal Education, at 

2021 Human Rights Symposium | Black Lives Matter as a Global Human Rights Movement

Presented by Gonzaga in Florence and Gonzaga School of Law Center for Civil and Human Rights

June 21, 2021

Basilica di Santa Croce—Florence, Italy

Gonzaga University School of Law, the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Gonzaga Law, and Gonzaga in Florence are proud to be holding our 2021 Human Rights Symposium, Black Lives Matter as a Global Human Rights Movement, live in Florence, Italy on June 21, 2021. This symposium will seek to recognize and amplify the Black Lives Matter movement as a critical influence on, and also response to, global movements for social, political, economic, and cultural equality, solidarity, and justice.

We are thrilled that circumstances in Italy are permitting us to host this symposium as a hybrid event in Florence at the historic Basilica di Santa Croce, with numerous in-person speakers and guests attending from Italy, the United States, Spain, Croatia, and other countries. We also are welcoming remote speakers from South Africa, India, Lebanon, and the United States. We expect that these uniquely insightful speakers from around the world, including our very special keynote presenter, will examine and enhance the profound global impact and importance of the statement, Black Lives Matter. As part of this program, Gonzaga is incorporating interdisciplinary dance and music performances from the original Gonzaga Dance Department work, Pay the Price

Symposium Agenda 

Subject to change. All times for Florence, Italy (GMT +2).

Morning Session | 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM

8:00-8:45 AM Registration and Coffee

Opening Remarks

Professor Brooks Holland, J. Donald and Va Lena Scarpelli Curran Professor of Legal Ethics and Professionalism, Gonzaga University School of Law

Professor Jason Houston, Dean and Associate Professor of Italian at Gonzaga University in Florence

Welcoming Remarks

Ragini Gupta, U.S. Consul General to Florence 

Panel 1: Global Perspectives on Black Lives Matter as a Human Rights Movement

Chair: Professor Upendra Acharya, Professor of Law, Gonzaga Law in Florence Distinguished Scholar of International Law Norman & Rita Roberts Scholar, Gonzaga University School of Law 

Professor Angelica Pesarini, Lecturer in Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University, Florence, Italy

Anti-racist without Race. The Case of Italy.

Professor Sahar Aziz, Professor, Chancellor's Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. Founding Director of the Center for Security, Race and Rights

Deconstructing Racio-Religious Hierarchies: Black Lives Matter and The Racial Muslim

Professor Iñigo Navarro Mendizabal, Professor of Private Law, Comillas Pontifical University, Spain

Discrimination in an Artificial Intelligence World

Professor Avitus Agbor, Research Professor, North-West University, South Africa

Arguing for a Paradigm Shift from “Some Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter”: a Philosophical Introspection


Paul Butler

Professor Paul Butler, Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a legal analyst on MSNBC

Professor Butler is one of the nation’s most frequently consulted scholars on issues of race and criminal justice. His work has been profiled on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and The ABC, CBS and NBC Evening News. His book “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” was published in July 2017. The Washington Post named it one of the 50 best non-fiction books of 2017. Professor Butler served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption. His prosecutions included a United States Senator, three FBI agents, and several other law enforcement officials. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.

Luncheon & Guided Tour of Santa Croce

Afternoon Session | 2:30 AM - 5:45 PM

Panel 2: Black Lives Matter: Global Legal Issues and Systems

Chair: Professor Brooks Holland, J. Donald and Va Lena Scarpelli Curran Professor of Legal Ethics and Professionalism, Gonzaga University School of Law

Professor Neha Jain, Professor of Public International Law, European University Institute, Italy

Black Lives Matter and the Imperfect Perfections of CERD

Professor Maja Munivrana Vajda, Associate Professor of Criminal Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Racial and Ethnic Violence, Discrimination and ProfilingEuropean Policies and Judicial Responses

Professor Isabel Maravall BuckwalterProfessor of Public International Law, Loyola University, Spain

Racist Rhetoric Against Unaccompanied Children in Spain 

Professor Wendy Greene, Professor of Law, Drexel University 

Black Lives Matter, Black Hair Matters: A Transnational Lens 


Panel 3: Black Lives Matter: Intersections and Activism

Chair: Professor Inga Laurent, Associate Professor of Law, Gonzaga University School of Law

Director Valentina Paglai, Human Rights Education and Advocacy Manager, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Italia

Black Lives Matter as a Model for Anti-Racist Human Rights Education in Italian Schools

Professor Balaji Venugopal Raju, Registrar and Director, Tamil Nadu Law University, India

Traces of Discriminatory patterns in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - A Tacit Human Rights Violation

Adjunct Professor Ghadir El AlayliAttorney-at-law, University Lecturer, Consultant and Researcher, St. Joseph University, Lebanon

Revolutionary Protests, Blast, Pandemic and Police in Lebanon: The State of Emergency Legislation and its Impact on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law 

Closing Remarks

 Professor Upendra Acharya, Professor of Law, Gonzaga Law in Florence Distinguished Scholar of International Law Norman & Rita Roberts Scholar, Gonzaga University School of Law 


Pay the Price | Evening Event

 Suzanne Noelle and Kevin

This symposium will include a unique interdisciplinary collaboration between the Law School and the Dance and Music Departments at Gonzaga to capture the full range of human expression that is essential to human rights. Pay the Price is a physical exploration through dance of Historic Racism, Privilege, and Power. This is a collaboration between Professor Suzanne Ostermith, M.F.A., the Director of Dance at Gonzaga, Noelle Price of PRICEarts in SeattleKevin Hekmatpanah, cellist and Professor Music Department at Gonzaga, and undergraduate dance students. Our hope is that this performance brings new ways at looking at these difficult issues and encourages reflection and conversation. 

Segments of the June 20 performance will precede panels during the full symposium program on June 21 at Basilica di Santa Croce.

Florence conference