Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare: Global Battles

Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) are lightning-rods of controversy in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced with regard to abortion rights and rights of sexual minorities (LGBTIQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer – persons), but is also evident in issues such as the regulation of contraception, sterilization and adultery, divorce, sexual education and stem cell research. What is particularly pertinent is the growing judicialization of sexual and reproductive rights around the world. At the domestic and international level, courts have emerged as central arenas in these political-moral battles; and not only to further rights but also to limit them. The proposed project aims to understand the nature, causes and, particularly, the consequences of such lawfare, which we define as diverse and intentional strategies adopted by civil society actors that seek to engage legal institutions in order to further or halt policy reform and social change.

Background and Purpose:

Most of the literature on social movements and courts to date has focused on rights-expanding judicialization (Epp, 1998; Gauri and Brinks, 2008; Langford, Cousins, Dugard and Madlingozi, 2013; McCann, 1994; Rosenberg, 1991; Sieder, Schjolden and Angell 2005; Couso, Huneeus and Sieder 2010; Yamin and Gloppen, 2011). However, the judicial battlefield over sexual and reproductive rights has been used both to expand and to restrict rights – as illustrated by numerous legal battles over abortion legalization/criminalization and same-sex marriage in a number of countries and sub-national jurisdictions, and before international courts. In the USA, the longstanding “culture war” has intensified over abortion as well as over gay rights, with the courtroom continuing to figure as one of the main battlegrounds. In Latin America, notable victories on SSR have been registered before the courts in some countries, but there is also legal mobilization around more restrictive laws on abortion, both at the national level and before the Inter American Court of Human Rights.

Thus, there is a growing literature on various aspects of sexual and reproductive rights mobilization and its impacts. However, whereas a wealth of literature exists on SSR lawfare it is especially focused on the USA, and knowledge on SRR lawfare from other parts of the world is patchy and systematic, and comparative studies regarding the consequences of these legal battles for peoples’ actual enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights are lacking. It is important to ask whether the US case is exceptional or seminal in understanding the lawfare dynamics elsewhere, but we lack research to test hypotheses derived from the US experience across a wider universe of country cases.

These concerns bring to the fore the importance of identifying what happens after specific rulings are issued by the courts; what the levels of compliance are; whether authorities implement what is ordered by the judges, and; which factors could influence the level of compliance and implementation of the rulings.

We seek to understand how the effects of lawfare are linked to its nature and causes, within broader institutional, political dynamics, social and cultural contexts. Thereby we aim to advance – conceptually, methodologically and empirically – the broader field of socio-legal studies concerned with law and social transformation.

The questions posed in this project are of significant social importance. Whether and how the judicialization of moral battles affects attitudes and the dynamics of social conflict – and the social legitimacy of legal institutions dealing with them – are questions of urgent concern in many contemporary societies. The effects of lawfare on SRR also deserve special attention on account of the potential implications for gender relations, the dignity, health, autonomy and well-being of vulnerable groups, and for social policy, particularly healthcare, education, public finance, civil law, and family law.

Methodology:

We need to analyze the complexity of SRR-lawfare strategies and consider context when investigating the effects of legal mobilization, within and across countries. To understand SRRlawfare it is not sufficient to study the legal strategy, or the resulting ruling: it is also necessary to analyze the legal framework in which the lawfare strategies are embedded and the social and political structure in which they function.

In order to explore impact we want to understand whether the turn to courts is a ‘hollow hope’ or has real impacts (material, symbolic and political), we draw on a multidisciplinary team of researchers to develop a methodology integrating quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. The aim is to operationalize a rigorous, yet nuanced conception of impact. We are interested in the direct effects in terms of policies and their implementation and outcomes, but also in other (intended and unintended) social and political, symbolic and material effects. This includes effects on public discourse, on social organization and inclusion – and on the legal institutions themselves.

Empirically, the project will examine SRR lawfare through a rigorous comparative study of battles over abortion and LGBTI rights in thirteen countries. The case selection was predicated on identifying a sample of countries in which courts validated progressive, conservative, or no lawfare. The case studies allow us to see what happens when judicial politics offers opportunities for progressive and conservative movements, and more dynamically how contextual factors, opportunity structures, and strategic action may vary across time, issues, and sub-national units. The category of no lawfare is important as a control both in understanding conditions for the emergence of lawfare and its effects in relation to counterfactuals.

The case selection is based on findings from existing research, indicating the dynamics and effects other forms of legal mobilization (around socio-economic rights, including health rights) are profoundly shaped by differences in the social and legal context (legal system, political opportunity structure; incentive structures in the health system). A comparison of SRR cases across these contexts will provide insights into whether and how these factors impact on the type of SRR lawfare; the actors involved; their strategies and arguments; and ultimately on the effects of the cases both in terms of legal remedies; influence on policy and institutional change and in terms of material outcomes (a.o. access to safe abortions and changes in social stigma for LGBTI people).

Our research design for the comparative study is ambitious and innovative, based on mixed methods. At the core are structured thick descriptions, that are qualitative cases studies allowing for in-depth consideration of multiple contextual factors, but within a relatively fine-grained common analytical framework that enables meaningful comparison and provides a clear set of questions that each country author will have to answer.

The qualitative cases studies will be complemented by targeted quantitative studies seeking to assess various effects and impacts within and across cases, including experimental surveys assessing processes of attitudinal change. What is relevant and possible to do in terms of quantitative analysis will vary between contexts, depending on the nature of SRR lawfare and data availability, but will centrally include using and expanding the Judgment Watch database (http://judgmentwatch.org). Survey data on public perceptions of abortion and/or LGBTI rights before and after periods of significant pro- or anti-SRR lawfare may provide evidence of symbolic effects. Cross-national data will be used to provide a control group to see whether the changes are not just following general trends. We will rely on existing relevant time-series data (for example World Value Survey data) on changes in attitudes on relevant issues. Some survey data will also be collected within the scope of the proposed project, using survey experiments to probe processes of attitudinal change. This comparative mixed-methods approach aims to identify and assess chains of potential causal mechanisms linking SRR-lawfare to various forms of social transformation across social contexts.

Main findings:

  • We developed a database with SRR decisions at national and international level for 42 variables (information on the case, actors, issues adjudicated, success rates, remedies, citation of jurisprudence). Both progressive and conservative judgments are included. Thus far, all international level cases are coded (188) while country level coverage will be completed in 2017. The database has already been central to a significant number of papers and has attracted interest from other scholars. So far we can conclude that SRR litigation has become a more frequent, especially from the 1990s, with an increasing number of repeat players.
  • Courts are particularly important for pro-SSR actors while anti-SRR groups to a larger extent use legislative arenas and faith based civil society campaigns. Pro-SRR activists’ turn to litigation should be understood as a response to local legal and political opportunity structures. Where the political space is politicized, and dominated by conservative actors, courts represent a potentially less hostile arena and a route to international courts and public attention. Where legislative spaces are more open (Uruguay, Chile, Mozambique, Scandinavia) the pro-SRR side has prioritized – and advanced through – legislative strategies.
  • The global trend contains marked regional and intra-regional variation: In Latin America (LAC) whether you see the right to abortion services as integral to women’s right to health and autonomy, or as a violation of ‘the right to life from conception’ – has become an identity marker, central to elections and high politics. The conflict is highly legalized. Actors on all sides use courts, but anti-abortion groups (Catholic. Evangelical) also use legislative and constitutional arenas. Regional (and global) networks of actors are particularly on the anti-side, with close links to groups opposing LGBT-rights and other SRR-issues.
  • In Africa, the big issue is ‘homosexuality’ (short for any non-heteronormative sexual orientation/practice and gender identity, LGBTIQ). South Africa and Mozambique have had significant liberal law and policy shifts. But in most African countries the anti-gay position is a valence issue that no parties oppose, with overwhelming popular support – unlike in LAC, where abortion divides political parties. Pro-LGBT voices are increasingly heard in the courts, with some significant victories. The number of cases is low, but growing, mainly focused on anti-sodomy laws and association rights. Lawfare is fuelled by hostile political conditions, enforcement of sodomy laws, diffusion effects from successful -Uganda and South Africa-, and some liberal judges and international support. Compared to LAC, international actors are more prominent on all sides (religious, global health, activist networks, donors). The anti-gay stance is interwoven with discourses around African-ness, masculinity, neo-colonialism and is closely tied to political power struggles, strategically used by regimes to silence opposition, through bans on ‘promoting homosexuality’ and stricter laws on foreign funding.
  • Indian courts have in the past 5 years handed down both liberal and conservative LGBT rulings, and, most recently a progressive abortion ruling affirming womens’ autonomy (Bombay HC, 2016). A court case on de-criminalization of homosexual relations, declined by the Supreme Court sparked counter-movements. The initial decision to litigate was controversial, but LGBT activists seem to agree that the impact has been overall positive despite loss in SC. Religious actors and framings are present, but more ambiguous in the Indian context than in LAC and African context.
  • In Eastern Europe we see successful mobilization by anti-abortion/gay groups linked to the (Catholic/Orthodox) churches, right-wing parties, and increasingly authoritarian regimes. In Western Europe both law and public opinion has shifted in a liberal direction. Most interesting in the European context is the role of the European Court of HR and the European Court of Justice. Both have giving important judgments affirming LGBT-rights, while being less assertive on abortion and the project explores how the ECHR’s reproductive rights jurisprudence is constructing narratives of women’s citizenship.
  • Across contexts, strategies and framings of pro- and anti-SRR actors are closely interlinked. As cases are taken to the legal arena claims are reframed in light of opposing argument On effects of courts and law on public opinion, survey experiments (Norwegian citizen panel) indicate that it matters whether a controversial position is endorsed by a court (in the case of sex-work), and what the law on the matter is (regarding change of legal gender).
  • Our database of national and international SRR court decisions documents the rise and spread of SRR litigation and shows a.o. that women judges are more likely to vote in support of sexual and reproductive rights; that an increasing number of actors involved in litigation are experienced repeat players; and that the (quasi-judicial) SRR decisions of UN human rights treaty bodies can have significant (although uneven and sometimes unexpected) impact on SRR litigation and jurisprudence in other courts and tribunals.

Main Outputs:

Yamin, A. (2017). Health in Latin American Constitutional Law. Handbook on Latin American Constitutional Law. Oxford.

Yamin, A. (2017). T-760/08 (Constitutional Court of Colombia). Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law. Max Planck.

Langford M. (2017). Same-Sex Marriage in Polarised Times: Revisiting Joslin New Zealand. In E. Brems and E. Desmet, Rewriting Integrated Human Rights. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Wilson, B. and Rodríguez, O. (2017). Costa Rica: Understanding Variations in Compliance. In Langford, M. et al. Social Rights Judgements and the Politics of Compliance: Making it Stick. Cambridge University Press.

Yamin, A. and Bergallo, P. (2017). Editorial: Narratives of Essentialism and Exceptionalism:

The Challenges and Possibilities of Using Human Rights to Improve Access to Safe Abortion. Health & Hum. Rts. J. 1-11.

Bergallo, P. and Michel A. R. (2016).The constitutionalization of abortion in Latin American law. In R. Gargarella (Eds.), Handbook in Latin American Constitutionalism 1810-2010. London: Routledge.

Bergallo, P. and Ramon A M. (2016). Debates Legales sobre el Aborto, Eudeba. Universidad de Buenos Aires Press.

Bergallo, P. and Ramon A M. (2016). Constitutional developments in Latin American Abortion Law. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics Law, 135(2).

Maistrellis, E., Chia, V. and Yamin, A. (2016). Perils and Possibilities: Reflections on the Use of Scientific Evidence in Abortion Court Cases and Why the Public Health Community Should Care. Harvard FXB Center Working Paper.

Gianella, C. and Wilson, B. (2016). Superior Courts and LGBTI Rights in Latin America. In Gonzalez-Bertomeu, J. and  Gargarella, R (Eds.), The Latin American Casebook: Courts, Rights, and the Constitution. Ashgate: Routledge.

Oja, L. and Yamin, A. (2016). Woman in the European human rights system: How is the reproductive rights jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights constructing narratives of women’s citizenship? Colombia Journal of Gender and Law, 32(1), 62-95.

Kollmanskog, V. (2016). Love and Lawfare: How Indian Courts Became a Battleground For Queer Rights. Gaylaxy. Empowering Expressions.

Kollmanskog, V. (2016). No Going Back. A Case Study of Sexual and Gender Minorities in India and their Legal Mobilisation. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 3(8).

Gianella, C. and Wilson, B. (2015). Rainbow Revolution in Latin America: The Battle for Recognition. CMI, 4(1).

 

Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare: Global battles

Sexual and reproductive rights are lightening-rods of controversy in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced with regard to abortion rights and rights of sexual minorities, but is also evident in issues such as the regulation of contraception, sterilization and adultery, divorce, sexual education and stem cell research. A new project will explore the growing judicialization of […]

Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare: Global battles

Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) are controversial in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced on to abortion rights and rights of sexual minorities (LGBTIQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer – persons), but is also evident in issues such as the regulation of contraception, sterilization and adultery, divorce, sexual education and stem […]

Visiting researchers at LawTransform

LawTransform has three visiting researchers: Evelyn Villarreal F., Namita Wahi and Adrian Jjuuko. They are working with ongoing LawTransform projects. Evelyn Villarreal F., the Research Coordinator at the State of the Justice Report (Costa Rica) is a visiting researcher at LawTransform for one month. She is working with the project “Elevating water rights to human […]

Project Workshops

Alongside the events of the Bergen Exchanges, there are also project workshops for our active and developing projects. The workshops bring together researchers working on the projects for two days of discussions and presentations.

The projects will host public sessions to present the ongoing project findings during the Bergen Exchanges.

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This year’s project workshops are to be confirmed – in the meantime, here is what happened last year:

Elevating Water Rights to Human Rights: Has it strengthened marginalized peoples’ claims to water?
Project leader: Bruce Wilson

Water scarcity remains a huge problem in many countries, especially where a growing population compete with demands for water from industry and agriculture. In 2010, a United Nations General Assembly resolution recognised the right to safe and clean drinking water as a human right. However, the actual impact of this relatively new human right to water remains unknown. The project will analyse the effects of the 2010 UN resolution and establish how it has affected social movements and legal approaches to the right to water.


INTPART – LawTransform: Effects and Rights of Law
Project leader: Lara Cortes (lara.cortes@cmi.no)

The project aims to consolidate the Centre on Law & Social Transformation as a leading hub for scholarship on the use of law as an instrument of social change, and to advance high-quality research-based education in this field, in Norway and abroad. We aim to bring together an interdisciplinary team of scholars based in research and higher education institutions in Norway, Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States, who work in areas such as gender, health and natural resources (land, water).


Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare: Global Battles
Project leader: Siri Gloppen (siri.gloppen@cmi.no)

Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) are controversial in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced on to abortion rights and rights of sexual minorities (LGBTIQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer – persons), but is also evident in issues such as the regulation of contraception, sterilization and adultery, divorce, sexual education and stem cell research. What is particularly pertinent is the growing judicialization of sexual and reproductive rights around the world. At the domestic and international level, courts have emerged as central arenas in these political-moral battles; and not only further rights but also limit them. The project aims to understand the nature, causes and, particularly, the consequences of such lawfare, which we define as diverse and intentional strategies adopted by civil society actors that seek to engage legal institutions in order to further or halt policy reform and social change.


Amazoning Climate Governance
Project leader: Siri Gloppen (siri.gloppen@cmi.no) and Lara Cortes (lara.cortes@cmi.no)

This is a project under development. The aim of this workshop is to bring relevant researchers from Bergen and beyond together to work on a project proposal idea.


Breaking BAD: Understanding the backlash against democracy in Africa
Project leader: Lise Rakner (lise.rakner@cmi.no)

Most African countries today have multiparty elections. They have clear divisions between the electoral, legislative, executive and legal institutions. Power is not concentrated in the hands of one single actor. However, multiparty elections and legislation are often used as tools by the ruling elites in a backlash against democracy. Breaking BAD studies this trend across Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. The project uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to develop robust theories and analysis based on both within- and between-country comparisons.


Women on the Bench: The role of female judges in fragile states
Project leader: Elin Skaar (elin.skaar@cmi.no)

Since the 1970s, women have increasingly made it to the bench. Surprisingly, the proportion of women judges is generally higher in post-conflict countries than in well-established western democracies. Why is this so? This project investigates this puzzle by hypothesising that political rupture can provide women with opportunity structures that favour their access to judicial power. A small but growing literature on the role of women in the legal profession has paid virtually no attention to women judges in post-conflict and fragile states.


Seminar: LGBT rights around the world – strides and setbacks

Date: 5th June 2019 Time: 18:00 Venue: Litteraturhuset i Bergen, Østre Skostredet 5 From the decriminalization of homosexuality in India to the persecution in Chechnya, global LGBT rights are in constant change. This seminar will explore the state of LGBT rights in different areas of the world and the driving forces behind recent developments and […]

Overcoming the Limits of Legal Opportunity Structures – LGBT Rights’ Divergent Paths in Costa Rica and Colombia

This is a short summary of the article “Overcoming the limits of Legal Opportunity Strctures – LGBT rights’ Divergent Paths in Costa Rica and Colombia, written by Bruce M. Wilson and Camila Gianella-Malca (published in the journal “Latin American Politics and Society”). The article is part of the LawTransform project Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare: […]

Conservative Backlash in Europe: the networks behind

Date: Thursday 14th March Time:16:00-18:00 Place: Bergen Global, Jekteviksbakken 31 In recent years, Europe has seen strong conservative mobilization against abortion, LGBT-rights and child protection services. Through the Internet, intensive lobbying and funding from abroad, these movements are gaining new ground – is the seemingly well-established right of abortion under threat in Europe? What are the driving […]

News

Interview with Alan Msosa on the situation for LGBTQI+ rights in Malawi

June 2019 – Marit Tjelmeland and Alan Msosa 

In this interview, Marit Tjelmeland and Alan Msosa discuss the current situation for LGBTQI+ rights in Malawi. This interview relates to the SRR project.

Malawi is an important case study for the understanding of how majority members of society deal with minority interests. In the case of LGBTQI+ rights, it is an opportunity to analyse how local African communities navigate universality of human rights when confronted with contested norms and values.


Two new seminar series at LawTransform

June 2019

LawTransform received funding from Fritt-Ord for two new seminar series: The Right to the City and Transitional Justice in Norway and Beyond. 


The Council of Europe: from 1949 to 2019

May 2019 – Giedre Casaite

May 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe. It was founded in 1949 as a response to the fundamental violations of human rights in World War II. The Statute was signed by ten founders and now includes 47 Member States which have come together to agree on common standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In this blog post, Giedre Casaite examines the effectiveness of the courts and how it can retain its relevance in today’s world.


Rwanda – Unfulfilled Justice

April 2019 – Anna Gopsill

In the course of three months in 1994, between 800 000 and 1 million Rwandans were brutally slaughtered in systemised attacks. The reconciliation process that followed has been hailed all over the world. But for many Rwandans the hundred days of horror linger. More than a lesson in reconciliation and how to move on, the Rwanda genocide is a lesson in the importance of intervening.

In this blog post, Anna Gopsill reflects on genocide, justice and memory in Rwanda. And reminds us why it is important not to forget.


A half-written promise

April 2019: Jayna Kothari, Maya Unnithan and Siri Gloppen in Hindu Times

Political parties must steer public debate to crucial issues relating to women’s health and reproductive rights. The 2019 general election has brought to the forefront hotly contested political issues and promises. But one area of reform that has just not been an important electoral issue is the sexual and reproductive rights of women. While all major parties make some piecemeal promises to women, the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights is almost negligible. This is despite the recent progressive legal work in courts.


Den gode «fiende»: Fra flyktninger til seksuelle minoriteter

April 2019: Lise Rakner i Agenda Magasin

Hvorfor kjører Polens nasjonal-konservative regjeringsparti LHBT-motstand som viktigste valgkamptema foran Europaparlamentsvalget i mai?

Under slagordet «Ikke rør barna» har regjeringspartiet «Lov og rettferdighetspartiet» (PiS) i Polen kritisert forslaget til seksualundervisning i skolen. Det er utviklet av Verdens Helseorganisasjon (WHO), og godkjent i landets hovedstad, Warszawa.

PiS sterke mann, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, har valgt å gjøre LHBT-spørsmål (lesbiske, homofile, bifile og transpersoner) til et hovedpoeng i valgkampen. Han sier at polske tradisjonelle familie verdier er i spill og at helseorganisasjonens opplegg for seksualundervisning er et knefall for seksuelle minoriteter og Brussel.


Norge vingler stadig mer i utenrikspolitikken, så hvorfor skal nettopp vi få plass i FNs sikkerhetsråd?

March 2019: Malcolm Langford i Aftenposten

I Aftenposten Viten (14. august) går NUPI-forskeren Niels Nagelhus Schia i bresjen for Norges kampanje om en plass i FNs sikkerhetsråd. Schia har rett i at det er en viktig institusjon som trenger land som er opptatt av (å holde) verdensorden. Men han stiller seg fullstendig bak Regjeringens argumenter uten å stille kritiske spørsmål. Hvorfor er det akkurat Norge verden trenger i denne viktige rollen og ikke Irland og Canada, våre hovedkonkurrenter.

Ifølge Schia fortjener Norge plassen fordi vi har så mye å bidra med, fra et «solid utenriksapparat» til etablerte «forsknings- og kunnskapsmiljøer». Men med sitt store nettverk av ambassader, er Canada rangert på 19. plass i Global Diplomacy Index. Norge er lavere, på 36. plass, ikke overraskende etter mange år med nedskjæringer. Riktignok har Norge et solid, sentralt forskningsmiljø, men ikke nødvendigvis mye mer eller bedre direkte forskning på sikkerhetspolitikk.



World Water Day 2019 – Leaving no one behind 

March 2019 – Isabell Philipp 
There is a good reason why two UN resolutions explicitly recognized the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as an independent human right in 2010, and there is also a good reason why the World Water Day has been celebrated every year since 22. March 1993. The violation of the right to water not only leads to profound sorrow and complications for the individuals, but can also result in the violation of other human rights.


Homeless in São Paulo fight for drinking water 

March 2019 –  Lara Côrtes  & Crisleine Yamaji
For those without a home, access to clean water for drinking, making food and personal hygiene is a constant challenge. Homeless people often use public toilets for this purpose, and many collect water from gutters, sewage pipes, or rain. In São Paulo, only some public libraries, shelters, parks and toilets offer drinking fountains and taps of clean water. Until very recently, people living on the streets of the city center used to count on the goodwill of those working at restaurants and bars to access drinking water.


2018 ble et annus horribilis for rettsstaten. Her er fir ønsker for et bedre 2019. 

February 2019: Malcolm Langford og Jon Wessel-Aas i Aftenposten

Globalt ble 2018 et dårlig år for rettsstaten. I sin åpningstale som ny FN-kommisjoner for menneskerettigheter, uttrykte Michelle Bachelet i september 2018 fortvilelse over de mange tilbakeslagene verden rundt: Dommere ble verbalt angrepet i USA, sparket i Polen og arrestert i Tyrkia, av statenes utøvende myndigheter. Regjeringsmakt ble styrket på bekostning av grunnleggende sivile rettigheter i nye lover i Australia, Nicaragua og Ungarn. I Russland, Brasil, Kina, Egypt, Filipinene og flere andre steder ble advokater, menneskerettighetsaktivister og journalister utskjelt, arrestert og til og med drept.


Sex education in Latin American schools 

February 2019 – Marit Tjelmeland
Latin America is the only region in the world where adolescent pregnancies are not decreasing. It is expected that 38 % of Latin American girls will get pregnant before the age of 20. In the last few decades efforts have been made to develop a more comprehensive sex education, focused on preparing youth with the knowledge and skills necessary for healthy sexual lives. Research shows that the traditional focus on abstinence in sex education does not reduce the number of teen pregnancies. However, there is a vast conservative mobilization against the more comprehensive approach to sex education.


LawTransform received an honorary award from Bergen Sameforening

February 2019
We at the Centre on Law & Social Transformation are very pleased for having received the Bergen Sameforening’s honorary award 2019 for our contribution to increased visibility and focus on Sami issues and for a great collaboration in organizing the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Sami association in Bergen.


Alicia Yamin appointed Senior Fellow of the Global Health and Rights Project (GHRP)

February 2019

Alicia Yamin, a Global Fellow of the Centre on Law and Social Transformation has been appointed Senior Fellow of the Global Health and Rights Project (GHRP) at Harvard University.

The project will work to promote the theorization of the “right to health”, and study how this right is applicable under both international and domestic law. How can using the human rights framework be a tool in advancing global health justice?


Article by Camila Gianella: Sex education in Latin American schools

February 2019

Latin America is the only region in the world where adolescent pregnancies are not decreasing. It is expected that 38 % of Latin American girls will get pregnant before the age of 20. In the last few decades efforts have been made to develop a more comprehensive sex education, focused on preparing youth with the knowledge and skills necessary for healthy sexual lives. Research shows that the traditional focus on abstinence in sex education does not reduce the number of teen pregnancies. However, there is a vast conservative mobilization against the more comprehensive approach to sex education.


Hvem kontrollerer politikerne? 

January 2019: Tina Søreide i NRK

Den siste tiden har nyhetene florert av saker hvor det stilles spørsmål ved norske politikeres pengebruk.

Forskningsleder Tina Søreide har skrevet et debattinnlegg hos NRK hvor hun ser kritisk på effekten tillitsmisbruk kan ha for samfunnet, og hun synliggjør mangelen på tilstrekkelig kontroll av pengebruk hos våre folkevalgte.


Recognising all victims and survivors of sexual violence in wartime

December 2018 – Anna Gopsill
Women and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence and rape during a conflict and their gender and sexuality are used as a weapon against them. Yet, men and boys can also be victims of sexual violence in ways that manipulate their sexual and gender identities. Our pilot Anna Gopsill wrote a blog post arguing that there is a fundamental lack of understanding of what constitutes sexual violence against men or even a recognition that men can be victims of sexual violence.


New project: ‘Vulnerability in the Robot Society’

November 2018

Malcolm Langford, Co-Director at LawTransform, CMI researcher and Professor, University of Oslo is part of a team that has just been granted a 24 million kroner from the Research Council of Norway for the project ‘Vulnerability in the Robot Society’.


Diktatorens lærebok: Kapittelet om Tanzania

November 2018: Lise Rakner Bistandsaktuelt

Det går utforbakke med demokratiet og rettsstaten i Tanzania, skriver professor Lise Rakner.

Angrepet på homofile er ekstremt og helt uakseptabelt. Selvsagt reagerer internasjonal presse og menneskerettsorganisasjoner kraftig. Men, det er nødvendig å se dette angrepet på LHBT-personer som del av tanzanianske myndigheters stormangrep mot demokratiet, og da særlig ytringsfrihet og rettsbeskyttelse for minoritetsgrupper.


Kven kan krangle med statistikken?

October 2018: Elin Monstad i Bergens Tidende 

For eksempel kan eg, med SSB og NRK på mi side, informere om at Noreg kjem til å huse nesten femten millionar islendingar innan 2024. Korleis er det mulig?
Sampolstipendiat Elin Monstad skriv om statistikkens fallgruver.


Seminar: The decriminalization of homosexuality in India – Litigating on love.

October 2018 – Marit Tjelmeland
On 22nd October, the Lawtransform unit for Gender, Sexuality and the Law hosted a breakfast seminar on the decriminalization of homosexuality in India. Vikram Kolmannskog (researcher on the LawTransform project Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare: Global Battles) and Jayna Kothari (constitutional lawyer and co-founder of Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore) discussed the Indian Supreme Court judgement that decriminalized homosexuality. The participants’ presentations and subsequent discussion, focused on the constitutional developments arising from the judgement, advocacy strategies, what impact the judgment will have for the LGBTQI community in India, and the lessons that other countries could learn from the struggle for decriminalization. The presentations were inspiring and motivational. As Kolmannskog said, the decriminalization of homosexuality amongst the regular cycle of concerning news is just what the world needs.


The Breaking BAD team participated in a radio show

August 2018

During the Breaking BAD project meeting in Accra, Ghana, Lise Rakner (Principal Investigator, CMI/Uni. of Bergen), Nicolas van de Walle (Cornell University), Leo Arriola (Uni. of California, Berkley) and Franklin Oduro (Deputy Executive Director, CDD-Ghana) participated in a radio show titled ‘World Affairs’. The topic of the day was ‘Threats to democracy in Africa’, and our three project members and partner from CDD engaged in discussion with Etse Sikanku from the radio station Class 91.3 FM.


Hvem har ansvaret for å sikre folk vann? 

July 2018: Mathilde Thorsen Bergens Tidende 

Hvert år dør 200.000 mennesker i India som følge av mangel på rent drikkevann, ifølge en ny rapport. 21 byer i India står i fare for å gå tom for grunnvann frem mot år 2020. India står overfor en akutt vannkrise hvor 600 millioner mennesker risikerer å ikke ha tilgang på rent drikkevann. Dette er ikke noe nytt. Vannkrisen i India har ikke oppstått over natten. Problemene kommer ikke til å gå over av seg selv, og konflikter om tilgang til vann vil bare øke.