Virtual Lectures

Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School

Disruptions of Dignity: COVID-19 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Latin America


Online Viewing

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this panel discussion will be held virtually, as an online webinar. To ensure that you will receive access to the livestream and be kept up to date on any changes to the event, register now. We will send out a link to the livestream of the event to all registrants the day before and day of the event. Last registration is 11:30am on the day of the event.

Event Description

The COVID-19 pandemic battered the Latin American region, and has exacted a disproportionate toll on the lives of persons with disabilities throughout Latin America, exacerbating inequalities and entrenching already pervasive patterns of marginalization. These effects were especially evident for institutionalized persons with disabilities throughout the region – who faced heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission and increased isolation in these congregate settings – as well as for children with disabilities, who experienced disruptions in access to education and other critical services. And pandemic response and recovery plans often have failed to adequately include persons with disabilities.

The challenges presented by the pandemic exposed the precariousness of important pre-pandemic legal advances to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including recent legislative advances in PeruCosta RicaArgentina, and Colombia, which safeguard their right to exercise legal capacity, as well as significant judicial decisions, from the Supreme Court of Mexico, among other tribunals, affirming core rights to equality for persons living with disabilities. As countries across the region begin to emerge from the depths of the pandemic, this panel aims to take stock of the opportunities and challenges for Latin American countries to build a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities, and the role of courts in advancing robust frameworks to do so.

Presentations will include an overview of the legal and human rights issues and challenges in the region from the perspective of the Pan-American Health Organization, and a keynote address outlining the Mexican Supreme Court’s approach to disability rights. A moderated discussion, with opportunities for questions from the webinar attendees, will follow.

Join the conversation and submit questions on Twitter @PetrieFlom using #DisabilityLatAm.


  • Introduction: Alicia Ely Yamin, Senior Fellow in Global Health and Rights, The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School; Senior Advisor on Human Rights, Partners in Health
  • José Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz Mena, Justice, Mexican Supreme Court
  • Alejandro Morlachetti, Regional Legal Advisor on Human Rights, Pan-American Health Organization
  • Moderator: Michael Ashley Stein, Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD)




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