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Global Public Sociology Conversations: Global Solidarity and Cooperation, Human Rights and Vaccine Equity

Global Public Sociology Conversations: Global Solidarity and Cooperation, Human Rights and Vaccine Equity

Friday 28th January 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of our mutual interdependence and the need for collective and coordinated global effort and action, anchored in solidarity, to combat this threat. Yet, despite the threat COVID-19 (as well as attendant climate change crisis) poses to our humanity, global responses to combat the pandemic mirror the deep inequalities of our world. The refrain of ‘we are all in this together’ has not (yet) yielded the desired results: i.e., of sharing global commons such as vaccines and other medical treatment regimes. We have seen increasing ‘jungle survivalist’ tactics from wealthy countries of the global north in terms of vaccine inequity and hoarding, and more recently, racist travel bans following the emergence of Delta and Omicron variants.  Meanwhile, mutations of the virus continue to threaten and devastate the lives and economies of all countries (vaccinated and unvaccinated alike). In this conversation, our panel of experts will discuss issues around solidarity, vaccine apartheid/inequity, global health and environment and human rights.


Professor Obiora C. Okafor is the Edward B. Burling Chair in International Law and Institutions at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, USA. Professor Okafor has served, since August 2017, as the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity (one of the principal groups of human rights experts who advice and report annually to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly) and a former Chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (a Geneva-based committee of experts elected by the Human Rights Council to serve as its think tank and principal subsidiary organ). He has taught international law at the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto; Carleton University, Ottawa; and the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Nigeria. He has also served as an SSRC-MacArthur Foundation Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program; a Canada-US Fulbright Scholar at MIT; a Visiting Professor at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France; and the Gani Fawehinmi Distinguished Chair of Human Rights Law at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Abuja, Nigeria.

Roojin Habibi (@roojinh) (PhD. Candidate, Osgoode Law School), is a research fellow, international consultant and lawyer specialized in global health and human rights law. Her work is guided by the premise that the interplay of laws, norms and power relations from global to grassroots levels is what ultimately shapes health equity and the fulfillment of health as a human right. As a doctoral candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School (York University), Roojin explores the role of epistemic communities and civil society actors in the progressive development of health-related human rights norms. She holds a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Award and has published in a range of peer-reviewed medical and public health journals, scholarly legal journals, and edited volumes.

Dr. S. Harris Ali is a Professor of Sociology at York University in Toronto. His research focuses on the intersection of health, disasters, and the environment. A sociologist and engineer by training, he adopts an interdisciplinary approach that consciously strives to integrate biophysical with social factors in analysis to form a more comprehensive understanding of environmental disaster issues. Prof. Ali has published extensively on disease outbreaks, including SARS in 2003, the global spread of Avian flu and Ebola. His co-edited volume with Professor Roger Keil - Networked Disease: Emerging Infections in the Global City - has recently been recognized by The Globe and Mail, as one of the "top ten books that offer lessons from past pandemics."  He is currently a co-principal investigator with Fuyuki Kurasawa on a Canadian Institute of Health Research grant that involves big data analyses and AI to understand the role of social media in flaming and countering anti-Asian racism during the present COVID response.