University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

International Law, Human Rights, and Homelessness

Friday, October 21, 2016
1:30pm – 3:00pm

Storrs Campus
Dodd 162

Alyssa Webb (Doctoral candidate, POLS)

"You Can't Sit With Us: International Law, Human Rights, and Homelessness"

Abstract: In 2005 the United Nations estimated at least 100 million people were homeless worldwide (UN Economic and Social Council 2005). Despite the magnitude of this problem, both international and domestic policy communities have failed to implement policy that humanely addresses the needs of homeless persons. The lack of consistency in effective policy response is a direct consequence of the failure of the international community and domestic actors generally to hold states accountable for the poor treatment of homeless persons. Discussions of homelessness are concretely connected to broader questions about what it means to have rights, and to have those rights respected (Failer 2002). The rights of homeless persons are vulnerable to political attack as long as their status as rights bearers can be questioned without consequence. This dissertation explores the capacity of international law to substantially improve both the public perceptions of and policy responses to homelessness by creating a constructivist-based model of human rights norm diffusion. This model combines current knowledge on the demographics and determinants of homelessness, the types of policies enacted by states to address homeless populations, and contemporary explanations of human rights norm diffusion to produce a theoretically grounded explanation regarding how to regulate state interactions with homeless persons. This study will substantially expand the disciplines understanding of homelessness generally, and also demonstrate the importance of incorporating societal treatment of the homeless into our considerations of how the state utilizes power, both at domestic and international levels. 

**Coffee and tea provided**

For more info on this and other Economic & Human Rights program events through the HR Institute, see the ESRG website:


Prof. Shareen Hertel (

Political Science (primary), History Department, Human Rights Institute, UConn Master Calendar

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