Right to Education

In collaboration with its partner, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), PHRGE has been working on issues related to the right to education for several years. In the past year, this work has intensified with a focus on bringing a human rights perspective to key debates regarding education policy in the city of Boston and the commonwealth of Massachusetts.  PHRGE hosted an April 2013 event at Northeastern University School of Law that brought together QUEST, the BPS, NESRI and a variety of other community organizations to discuss the challenges of rights-sensitive implementation of the new assignment plan. In addition, PHRGE has commissioned research to analyze the proposed expansion of charter schools in Massachusetts through the same human rights lens. PHRGE has also published a Working Paper on charter school performance and the impact of “selection bias” on school effectiveness, and is working on another analyzing how the proposed legislative changes might impact the rights of students with special needs. PHRGE continues to do research on the subject of charter schools and the quality of Boston public education.

Current Research

PHRGE is currently hosting David Rini as a Post-Graduate Research Fellow. Mr. Rini is investigating the implications of expanding the cap on charter public schools in Massachusetts on the human right to education. Legislators in the Commonwealth are currently debating a bill that would raise the cap on the unique form of public school, and authorize additional spending to for certain districts across the Commonwealth. Mr. Rini's research focuses on the system-wide impact of expanding charters and the ways in which the international human right to education can provide decision-makers with more tools for evaluating holistic inequity in education.

Resource Rights

Right to Land and Large-Scale Land Acquisition

Since the onset of the global financial crisis of the last decade and the paradoxical rise in the prices of primary materials, a new “Land Rush” has been underway in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Corporate and other interests have been acquiring land at unprecedented rates for agricultural and mining pursuits. These acquisitions (referred to by many as “land grabs”) very often have immediate and devastating impacts on the Right to Sustainable Livelihood of local communities that rely on acquired lands for their subsistence. Communities and their allies have often resisted these acquisitions in multiple ways, both inside and outside of the courts. In some cases, human rights claims based on international law have been used to advance community rights. PHRGE is examining the long-term viability of using human rights strategies in the regulation of international large-scale land acquisitions, and creating partnerships to align the Law School’s research and other resources with efforts to protect and advance community rights

Current Research

PHRGE currently hosts Duygu Sener as a Post-Graduate Research Fellow.  Sener is currently completing a project focused on the right to free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples in cases involving land grabbing. Although Latin America is the least targeted region, the Inter-American Commission on human Rights has developed the most substantial jurisprudence on the right to FPIC.  The objective of Sener’s work is to understand the role of a state within the Inter-American system with regards to FPIC and whether state are fulfilling their obligations to implement international law as well as regional jurisprudence. 

Right to Water

PHRGE Faculty Co-Director Martha Davis and PHRGE Affiliated Faculty Professor Lee Breckenridge initiated a year-long collaboration with the Northeastern University Departments of Engineering and Architecture addressing the human rights effects of certain technical innovations in the area of water purification. The project used human right principles to create an innovative framework for evaluating urban water and wastewater systems.  In employing this framework, PHRGE examined relevant U.S. constitutional, legislative and judicial requirements through the human rights lens, culminating in research focusing on the human right to participate in environmental decision making under Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and the Aarhus Convention