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The use of law by social movements and civil society

La mobilisation du droit par la société civile et les mouvements sociaux

*  *  *

Published on Friday, March 16, 2018


La question des usages du droit par des mouvements engagés dans des mobilisations sociales a longtemps été négligée par la sociologie des mouvements sociaux. Aujourd’hui, le changement est notable : les recherches sur le recours au droit par des mouvements sociaux sont devenues foisonnantes. Elles concernent des cas d’étude très variés, ancrés au sein de pays et contextes divers.


Scientific Committee

  • Marie-Laurence Hébert-Dolbec (ULB)
  • Julien Pieret (ULB)
  • Geoffrey Pleyers (UCL)
  • Julie Ringelheim (UCL)
  • Annemie Schaus (ULB) –
  • Barbara Truffin (ULB)
  • Laura Van den Eynde (ULB)
  • Agatha Verdebout (ULB)





Thursday 22 March 2018             

  • 8h45-9h: Welcome
  • 9h-9h15: Introduction, Geoffrey Pleyers (FNRS/UCL, President of RC 47 of the International Sociology Association), Agatha Verdebout (ULB, member of the ARC « Strategic Litigation »)
  • 9h15-9h45: The Use of Law by Social Movements and Civil Society. A Brief History of the FieldMichael McCann, University of Washington

1. Political protests in legal arenas (10h-12h)*

Moderator: Julien Pieret (ULB)

  • Kangaroo Court : The Black Power Movement  and  the  Coutroom as a Site of ResistanceJoyce Bell, University of Minnesota
  • Le procès de la violence policière en Russie: outil stratégique expert ou vecteur de mobilisation ?Anne Le Huérou, Univserity Paris X Nanterre
  • « Justice pour Norbert Zongo » : une mobilisation conjointe du droit et de la rueHabibou Fofana, University Ouaga 2
  • Calling the State to Account : How Human Rights (Non)-  Activists Learn to Use Law Against the State in ‘Enforced Disappearances’ Cases in PakistanSalman Hussain, City University of New York

2. New sites and new modes of mobilization (10h-12h)

Moderator: Julie Ringelheim (FNRS/UCL)

  • Constitutional Mobilization in the Transnational Sphere, Paul  Blokker, Charles University in Prague
  • Social Rural Movements, Popular Advocacy and Legal Training. The Experience of Law Bachelor Courses of La Via Campesina in BrazilAline Borghoff Maia & Leonilde Servolo de Medeiros, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Burning the Paper Tiger : The Dwindling of Civil Society Bodies Within Trading Regimes, Sabaa Ahmad Khan, University of Eastern Finland
  • « As an Activist, You Use What You Have » : Brazil’s Public Defender and the Belo Monte DamPeter Taylor Klein, Bard College

12h-13h: Lunch

  • 13h-13h30 : Professionnels du droit et mouvements sociaux. Des relations complexesLiora Israël, EHESS

3. The role of legal professionals (13h45-15h45)

Moderator: Aude Lejeune (CNRS/Lille University)

  • On Trangressive Lawyers and Judicial Case Reviews in the US, Germany and Hong Kong, Helena Flam, University of Leipzig
  • The Use of Pro-Bono Work by NGOs and Organisations : Legal Activism or Minimising the Cause ?, Charles Bosvieux- Onyekwelu, EHESS
  • Is the Litigation Before the European Court of Human Rights Under the Influence of American Private Foundations ?, Gaëtan Cliquennois, University of Strasbourg
  • The Subjectiviy in the Legal Strategies of Social Movements. Resiliency and Melancholy in the Mobilization of those Affected by Resource-Extractive Industry in Brazil, Cristiana Losekann, University Federal do Espírito Santo, Brazil

4. The repression of mobilizations (13h45-15h45)

Moderator: Geoffrey Pleyers (FNRS/UCL)

  • No Truths Left to Report : Cause Lawyers, Trolls, and  the  Freedom of Information in Russia’s Surveillance StateFreek van der Vet, University of Helsinki
  • Studying Two Faces of Law in Contemporary Democracies : State Repression of Protest and Human Rights MobilizationDébora  Alves Maciel & Marta Rodriguez Machado, Federal University of São Paulo
  • The Use of Human Rights Law to Repress Social Movements: the Case of BDS in FranceMarco Perolini, Goldsmith College
  • Law as Disobedience Tactic of Occupation Brazil, Carolina Amadeo, Birbeck School of Law

15h45-16h: Coffee break

5. Mobilizing social rights (16h-18h)*

Moderator: Elise Dermine (ULB)

  • Construire sa propre défaite ? Les affaires Viking et Laval : un échec judiciaire pour le syndicalisme européenJulien Louis, University of Strasbourg
  • Discussing the Ambivalent Role of Law in Mobilisations  of  Social Movement in Light of Austerity : the Cases of Portugal and FranceCarolina Alves Vestena, Univeristy of Kassel
  • Le droit de grève et la législation d’exception au Québec. Perspective historique (1964-2017), Martin Petitclerc, UQAM
  • Bringing Lawyers and Social Movements Together in Ireland to Promote the Human Rights of People in Mortgage DistressMarguerite Angelari, Open Society Justice Initiative

6. Globalization of struggles and circulation of legal practices (16h-18h)

Moderator: Matthias Sant’ana (ULB)

  • Beyond the Courts : Repercussions of Legal Activism Around Seeds  in Brazil and India, Karine Peschard, IHEID
  • Des usages de l’intersectionnalité dans la lutte contre les discriminations en Europe : transplant et réappropriation stratégiques d’une critique socialeRaphaële Xenidis, EUI
  • The Transnational Mobilisation and Legal Pluralism. Social Movements and Labour Rights in the Global Garment IndustrySabrina Zajak, Ruhr-University Bochum, Eva Kocher, University of Frankfurt & Nina Wienkoop, Leuphana University Lüneburg

18h-20h: Cocktail

*means that there will be simultaneous interpretation for this presentation/panel from French to English.

Friday 23 March 2018    

9h-9h15: Welcome

9h15-9h45: Nouveaux mouvements sociaux et nouvelles théories critiques : quelles convergences ?Bruno Frère, Université de Liège*

7. The refusal to use law (10h-12h)*

Moderator: Vanessa De Greef (ULB)

  • The Right to Die Movement in Italy : From Litigation to Actions of Civil DisobedienceCristina Poncibo, University of Turin
  • La culture juridique canadienne des droits de la personne : un obstacle à la mobilisation des droits sociaux par les organisations de la société civile ?, Christine Vézina, University Laval
  • L’action de groupe en santé : la dimension collective d’un mode d’action judiciaire en questionHélène Michel, University of Strasbourg
  • Social Movements Skepticism and the Rise of Mass Protest as a Strategic Alternative to Legal Action in NigeriaUsman Adekunle Ojedokun, University of Ibadan

8. The use of law by conservative movements (10h-12h)

Moderator: Agatha Verdebout (ULB)

  • How and Why Interest Groups Combine Public  Awareness Campaigns and Strategic LitigationBritta Rehder & Katherina van Elten, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • Law in a Service of Values : Enforcement of Values and Indentity Through Legal Norms by the Croatian Conservative MovementAntonija Petrocusic, University of Zagreb
  • The Radiating Effect of the European Court of Human Rights  on Social Movements : LGTB Rights, Strategic Litigation and Counter- Mobilizations in GreeceMargarita Markoviti, ELIAMEP
  • International Human Rights Law as a Tool of Repression : International Evangelical Organisations, Development Funding and LGBT RightsKevin Crow, University Halle-Wittenberg

12h-13h: Lunch

  • 13h-13h30: Law and Social Movements: A Post-Colonial PerspectiveShalini Randeria, IWM

9. Reproductive rights and divorce (13h45-15h45)

Moderator: Barbara Truffin (ULB)

  • The Role of International Human Rights Law in Abortion Law  and Politics in IrelandChristine Ryan, Duke University
  • Women’s Legal Mobilisation and Family Law in Colombia : the Quest for Divorce in the 20th CenturyAlma Beltran y Puga, University de Los Andes
  • Radical Aims Through Moderate Means : Legal  Mobilizations and Framing Transformation in the Process of Abortion Legalization in Mexico CityAlba Ruibal, National University of Córdoba
  • Korolev v. Russia on a Right of an Unborn Child to Life: A Case Study of Law and Lawyers as Agents of Social Change in an Autocratic SocietyAnton Burkov, University of Humanities (Yekaterinburg)

10. Defending minorities through litigation (13h45-15h45)

Moderator: Marie-Laurence Hébert-Dolbec (ULB)

  • « Be Cautious When You Mobilize the Law ». Labor Unions and the Promotion of Disabled Members’ Rights in Belgium, Aude Lejeune, University of Lille / UdeM
  • A Tale of Two Judgments : The Afterlifes of a Defeat and a Victory for Queer Rights in IndiaDanish Sheikh, Jindal Global Law School
  • Reactive or Proactive Courts ? Two Case Studies on Legal Mobilisation for Migrants Rights : Italy and the UKVirginia Passalacqua, EUI
  • The Soros Network’s Hegemonic Role in the Roma Rights Movement, Lilla Farkas, EUI

15h45-16h: Coffee break

16h-16h30: The impacts of strategic human rights litigation. A view from the field, Jim Goldston, Executive Director of Open Society Justice Initiative

16h30-18h00: Conclusions / Round table

Moderators : Julie Ringelheim (UCL) & Laura Van den Eynde (ULB)

  • Michael McCann,
  • Liora Israël,
  • Bruno Frère,
  • Shalini Randeria


  • Sleep Well Hostel - rue du Damier
    Brussels, Belgium (1000)


  • Thursday, March 22, 2018
  • Friday, March 23, 2018


  • société civile, mobilisation, droit, mouvement social


  • ARC Strategic Litigation
    courriel : arc-strategic-litigation [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be

Reference Urls

Information source

  • ARC Strategic Litigation
    courriel : arc-strategic-litigation [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The use of law by social movements and civil society », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Friday, March 16, 2018, https://doi.org/10.58079/zu2

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