Inalienable Rights and the Traditions of Constitutionalism


Location: Hesburgh Center & Jenkins and Nanovic Halls

This conference will explore and extend the work of the Commission on Unalienable Rights (COUR), an independent and nonpartisan body convened from 2019 through 2020 and composed of academics, philosophers, and practitioners. Its charge was to provide the US State Department with advice on human rights grounded in the nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On August 26, 2020, the Commission issued its final report, a document approved unanimously by all 11 COUR Commissioners that has since been translated into seven languages. We bring the work of the Commission into sharper focus and into dialogue with a broad range of interlocutors, including critics and including scholars and jurists from outside of the United States. The conference features an innovative and focused format that reflects this ambition, boasting five keynote addresses, a response from a member of the Commission, and a subsequent panel discussion. The objective for this arrangement is to foster substantive, balanced, engaged, and probative discussion of key ideas and issues generated by the Commission’s report.  We aim to generate an atmosphere of free inquiry, civil and collegial discourse, and lively intellectual exchange. 

Tuesday, November 16 

08:30 – Welcome 

THEME V: Where do we go from here?

08:45 – Theme V Keynote
Mary Ann Glendon
 (Harvard University, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights), keynote presenter
Kenneth Anderson (American University, US Commission on Unalienable Rights), respondent

10:00 – Break

10:15 – Theme V Panel Discussion
Moumouni Soumano
 (Kellogg Institute), panelist
Alexandra Huneeus (University of Wisconsin Law School), panelist
Aaron Rhodes (Common Sense Society, Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe), panelist
Diane Desierto (University of Notre Dame), moderator

11:30 – Break

11:45 – Plenary Session and Final Comments
Peter Berkowitz (Hoover Institution - Stanford University), panelist
Paolo Carozza (University of Notre Dame), panelist
David Pan (University of California, Irvine), panelist
Roger Alford (University of Notre Dame), moderator

13:00 – Lunch & Departures

Further details about this event can be found here.