Rights Refracted: Disability Rights Diffusion and Anti-Discrimination Legislation in South Korea and Japan

Celeste Arrington, LAPA Fellow; George Washington University

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 4:30pm
301 Marx Hall
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LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract: "Disability rights have expanded worldwide, including in East Asia. South Korea and Japan both recently enacted legislation banning disability-based discrimination. Yet the Japanese law had a less detailed definition, narrower scope, and weaker enforcement mechanisms. These differences present a puzzle for existing theories of international rights diffusion, emulation, and socialization. Indeed, both governments and activists from both countries were involved in crafting the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and admired the earlier Americans with Disabilities Act. Comparing Korea and Japan indicates that, while international law and transnational activism have a role to play in inspiring and enabling domestic actors, it is necessary to consider domestic factors to understand the particular rights regimes that countries adopt. This paper shows that diffused rights ideas were refracted and then projected onto domestic law in distinctive ways in Korea and Japan by the interaction of three domestic factors: 1) existing repertoires of legal mobilization and collective action, 2) the domestic political debates in which disability discrimination was couched, and 3) the institutional templates available for implementing anti-discrimination provisions. "

Celeste Arrington
Celeste Arrington
LAPA Fellow
George Washington University

Celeste L. Arrington specializes in comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan. Her research and teaching focus on law and social movements, the politics of redress, the media, litigation as a form of political participation, the legal profession in East Asia, policy-making processes, historical justice and transnational activism, North Korean human rights, and qualitative methods.  She is the author of Accidental Activists: Victims and Government Accountability in South Korea and Japan (Cornell University Press, 2016). She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters in Philosophy from Cambridge, and an A.B. from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  At LAPA, she will work on a book analyzing lawyers' roles in the growing prominence of litigation, the courts, and rights language in Japanese and Korean politics.

Frank Upham
Frank Upham
Wilf Family Professor of Property Law
New York University School of Law

Frank Upham teaches first-year Property, law and development, and a variety of courses and seminars on comparative law and society with an emphasis on East Asia and the developing world. He was the faculty director of the Global Law School Program from 1997 to 2002 and is the founder and co-faculty director of the Global Public Service Law Project, which brings activist lawyers primarily from the developing world for an LLM in Public Service Law.  Upham graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1967 and Harvard Law School in 1974. From 1967 to 1970, Upham taught in the Department of Western Languages at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan, and was a freelance journalist in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, covering the war for TimeSports Illustrated, and other publications. Before moving to NYU in 1994, he had taught at Ohio State, Harvard, and Boston College law schools.  Upham has spent considerable time at various institutions in Asia, including as a Japan Foundation Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Doshisha University in 1977, as a research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science at Sophia University in 1986, and as a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2003. He speaks Chinese and French, as well as Japanese.