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LJD Week 2021 | Racial Equity and Development: The Role of Human Rights

November 8, 2021

Virtual | Live Broadcast & Recorded



An event of the GFLJD Human Rights and Sustainable Development Working Group

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Human rights law enshrines the norms of equality and non-discrimination with respect to racial and ethnic origin.  Racial equity is relevant to development for a variety of reasons—some normative and some instrumental.  The definition of development itself has evolved to include more holistic conceptions of human development defined in terms such as empowerment, capabilities, freedoms, well-being, and inclusion, among others. Each of these goals and principles is threatened by racial discrimination.  

The session will explore how human rights law and principles relating to racial equity and combating racial discrimination are essential to achieving the SDGs. In addition, this session will articulate arguments about the value added of human rights in fostering more inclusive development processes and maximizing sustainable development outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities.

The session will also examine how racial equity is relevant to the attainment of the Bank’s Twin Goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity, which emphasize the need for development to tackle exclusion and inequality.  Look forward to panelists sharing lessons-learned and analysis of the characteristics that these mechanisms could have to influence legal reforms addressing racial discrimination.

  • Speakers


    Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo

    Lead Social Development Specialist and Global Disability Advisor, World Bank

    Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo is Global Disability Advisor of the World Bank Group. As Disability Advisor, she focuses on working with and supporting operational teams across the institution to ensure that Bank policies, programs and projects take people with disabilities into consideration. Before joining the World Bank, she served as USAID’s coordinator for disability and inclusive development, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011 to lead the government’s efforts in disability inclusive development, from developing policies and country strategies to technical assistance for program implementation. Prior to that, she worked as a Senior Operations Officer at the Bank to integrate disability inclusive development into operations in the East Asia Pacific and Africa regions. Earlier in her career, she was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to the South African Human Rights Commission focusing on social and economic rights, disability rights, and child rights. From 1996 to 1998, she also served as a project officer on child protection for UNICEF. She holds a Master’s Degree in international law and administration from the University of Warsaw, Poland, and an LLM from Cornell Law School.


    James Gathii 

    Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law and Professor of Law, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law

    James Gathii is a Professor of Law and the Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law since July 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and Harvard Law School. He sits on the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law, the Journal of African Law and the Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, and on the Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, among others. He is a founding Editor of He is an experienced arbitrator in International Commercial Arbitrations and Investor State Disputes. In 2016, he was elected to be on the Indicative List of Panelists of the World Trade Organization. He has written a number of books and over 80 articles and book chapters.


    Sophie Elizéon

    Head, French Interministerial Delegation for the Fight against Racism and Anti-LGBT hatred (DILCRAH)

    Since 2007, Sophie Elizéon has held various state mandates in the field of integration, fight against discrimination and for gender equity, particularly in the French overseas departments. In February 2021, she was appointed head of the DILCRAH, a body placed under the authority of the French Prime Minister in charge of designing, coordinating and leading the France's policy in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT hatred. To this end, DILCRAH provides advice and leadership to the French ministries.


    Juliana Vengoechea Barrios

    Managing Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

    Juliana Vengoechea Barrios is the managing legal officer of the litigation team of the Open Society Justice Initiative, based in the New York office. She has been at OSF since 2014 when she first joined the Justice Initiative as an Aryeh Neier Fellow (2014–2016), working on equality and inclusion issues. Since 2016 she has been devoted to strategic transnational human rights litigation in multiple regional systems as well as many national courts, across the different themes and areas of work of OSF, including the right to citizenship and documentation of identity. She has also lectured, spoken, and taught around the world on human rights, strategic litigation practice, and migration and nationality law. Prior to joining OSF, she was an assistant professor and director of the Center for Studies in International Law at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia; where her research and teaching focused on forced migration, rights of minorities, and comparative human rights. She has also worked as a human rights and international humanitarian law advisor for the vice-president of Colombia, a scholar at the Asylum and Refugee Law Program at the University of Michigan, and a fellow in the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, D.C. She holds LLB degrees from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia and the University of the Basque Country, Spain, and a LLM from the University of Michigan.


    Siobhán McInerney-Lankford (moderator)

    Senior Counsel, World Bank

    Siobhán McInerney-Lankford is Senior Counsel at the World Bank Legal Vice Presidency. She was formerly Senior Policy Officer, Institutions, Law and Partnerships for Human Rights at the World Bank Nordic Trust Fund. Dr. McInerney-Lankford is a recognized expert in international Human Rights Law, advising the World Bank on Human Rights since 2002 and regularly representing the World Bank in international human rights fora, including the UN, EU and OECD. From 2006-2008, she served as chair of the OECD DAC Human Rights Task Team and was WB representative to the UN High-Level Task Force on the Right to Development from 2007-2009, the 2013 Vienna + 20 meeting and was the Bank's focal point for human rights for the UN Open Working Group on SDGs. From 2014-2016 she served as co-chair of the ASIL Human Rights Interest Group.


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