Community equity team

Strengthen community benefit agreements in Washington, DC

Student picture

Rolly Giberson

Clients & partners – Ward 8 Community Economic Development Plan (W8CED) Steering Committee, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, and community groups.
Goal – The Community Equity team works with local partners to help promote more equitable development in Washington, DC, where many residents face the impacts of generations of racist housing policies, underinvestment, and gentrification pressures that displace residents and communities. This paradox of underinvestment and gentrification is felt most acutely in Wards 7 and 8, where COVID-19 has sharpened the racial and socio-economic inequities across the city and brought more urgency for community-led, grassroots participation in local governance and development processes.
Student work – Working with the Ward 8 Community Economic Development (W8CED) Steering Committee and others, students in the team are developing best practices to strengthen community benefits agreements (CBAs), which obligate a private developer to deliver community amenities and benefits—such as affordable housing—in exchange for the community’s support of a proposed development project. The teams’ spring 2021 work includes:
Local and national survey – Survey and analyze the development, implementation, and enforcement of community benefits agreements (CBAs), nationally and in the District Interviews – Conduct interviews with a cross section of community experts who have participated in the CBA process, including: Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANCs), nonprofit organizations, DC agencies.
Training workshops – Conduct CBA training workshops for newly elected ANC and other community stakeholders.
Database Create a database to track CBAs that have been developed in the District Factsheet – Develop CBA 101 factsheet for community residents.
Final report Write a report on CBA development in Washington, DC. The report (forthcoming June 2021) will include the CBA lifecycle, case studies, and best practices for CBA development and enforcement.
Ongoing research – Continue to serve as resource for community organizations with questions about developing and negotiating CBAs in Washington, DC.

Student picture

Linn Groft

Student picture

David Leeds

Health & food team

Just Purchasing Consortium – Protecting food workers

Collaborators – Worker’s Rights Institute, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
Goal – Create a sizable consortium of American universities, colleges, and organizations to harness university purchasing power to improve upon the poor working conditions that exist at many of the leading distribution and processing plants that supply universities with their food.
1. Expand the Just Purchasing Consortium’s reach to include approximately 20-25 universities, colleges, and non-profit or student organizations.
2. Produce useful work product that may be easily circulated to the public to help bring awareness to our mission and incentivize others to join our Consortium.
3. Diversify our outreach efforts by geographic location, type of university/college, type of organization and specialty knowledge.
4. Research existing federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Act rules and regulations to help understand where there are gaps in the law.
5. Create a comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct that all university and college Consortium members will adopt to improve the working conditions of those who supply their food.

Student picture

Matthew Behrens

In the Fall semester, Matt researched federal labor preemption and the market participation doctrine. This work sought to better understand how the public universities in our purchasing consortium might be legally prohibited from enacting a code of conduct regulating certain labor and workplace safety for vendors in their food supply chain. From this analysis, Matt will propose recommendations for a campaign strategy to create a more robust monitoring and compliance scheme for some of the largest purchasers of food, particularly poultry, in the country, universities and colleges.

We are collaborating with unions, worker centers, and academic institutions.

The goal iPs to have universities enact a code of conduct to better monitor and target violators of workplace violations throughout the food supply chain.

Student picture

Danielle Brooks

In the Fall. Dani first examined various company, university, and municipality supplier codes of conduct and then drafted her own supplier code of conduct for the Just Purchasing Consortium. Additionally, she spearheaded outreach efforts, identifying the Consortium’s short- and long-term objectives.
In the Spring, Dani will continue focusing on outreach, but she will also examine the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and individual Occupational Safety and Health Administration approved State Plans. In doing this, she hopes to identify the health and safety gaps that exist on both a federal and state level so she can address and improve upon them in the Just Purchasing Consortium’s supplier code of conduct.

Student picture

Aiseosa Osaghae

In the Fall semester, Aiseosa conducted outreach and recruitment efforts for the Just Purchasing Consortium. The Consortium aims to encourage transparency from contractors in university food purchasing, through required disclosures of work conditions and sourcing information. Aiseosa researched and analyzed potential legal barriers to successful implementation of this disclosure requirement. During the Spring semester, Aiseosa will continue to research the barriers posed in the different states in which members of the Consortium are located, and will continue to focus on recruiting members for the Consortium.

Labor & human rights

Quality jobs through climate investments

Collaborators – BlueGreen Alliance and coalition members, Federal agencies, California state agencies, Washington[h] state agencies
Goal – Design state and national policy that protects labor rights by creating and maintaining quality jobs while also promoting environmental goals through clean technology programs.
1) Develop workforce standards which can be implemented at the state and national level such as hiring disadvantaged workers, preserving dispute resolution options and paying the prevailing wage.
2) Implement job quality standards through state legislation, federal executive order and state agency action.
3) Create a framework for job quality standards in California that is transferable to other states.

Student picture

Mansi Gaur

Mansi addressed questions of federal preemption associated with implementing job quality standards. Her work was centered on assessing potential litigation risks and providing alternative drafting options. Key areas of research included wages, classification, and state law compliance. In the spring, Mansi will also address questions of environmental policy pertinent to BGA’s goals.

Student picture

Cameron Mixon

Cameron contributed research demonstrating that the proposed subsidy would be within California’s power, according to the Dormant Foreign Affairs Power of the US Constitution. He also illustrated support for the subsidy’s labor conditions under the Federal Arbitration Act, international trade agreements, and federal statutes enabling the observance of internationally-recognized workers’ rights. In the Spring, Cameron is developing a strategy for the implementation of a low-carbon emissions “Buy American” Executive Order.

Student picture

Isabella Peek

Bella first analyzed existing statutes concerning California state agency authority. She focused on how job quality standards may be implemented using the spending power of California state agencies. Bella’s second project was drafting legislation to give explicit authorization to implement job quality standards using the spending power of state agencies.

Student picture

Aiseosa Osaghae

Aiseosa researched potential legal barriers to BGA’s policy proposals. BGA’s policy is aimed at improving environmental outcomes and increasing transparency in purchasing and production of construction materials in Washington State. Aiseosa analyzed Washington State Trade Secret Law to assess the potential for trade secret arguments against disclosures on several measures of environmental and social outcomes.

Student picture

Zeqing Kate Zheng

Kate aided BGA in analyzing future litigation risks of its proposal under the Dormant Commerce Clause. She focused her research on the Supreme Court precedents on the Market Participant Exception under the Dormant Commerce Clause and applied her research to modify BGA’s proposals to reduce risks posed by the Commerce Clause. Besides, Kate construed graphics and tables to visualize BGA’s proposal in its presentation to state agency and related legislators.

Human rights team

Human Rights in the FIFA World Cup 2026

Collaborators – AFL-CIO, Human Rights Watch, Center for Sports and Human Rights (?), Empower (?).
Goal – In response to human rights violations of previous World Cups, and new complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harrison Institute is working with a coalition of human and labor rights groups to ensure FIFA and Candidate Host Cities follow FIFA’s human rights commitments for the 2026 World Cup.
Objectives – 1) Assess which forums are best to assure FIFA, the United Bid, and Candidate Host Cities comply with the 2026 human rights strategy. 2) Identify avenues of accountability to increase transparency and obtain information relevant to preparations for the 2026 World Cup, by researching freedom of information laws and drafting a questionnaire for Candidate Host Cities.

Student picture

Jessica Doumit

Jessica worked with partners to evaluate and alter the human rights team’s strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This included identifying candidate host cities as viable forums to push for compliance with FIFA and United 2026’s human rights strategy. With Rolly, Jessica drafted an accountability questionnaire aimed at examining how Candidate Host Cities will respond to human rights risks connected to the 2026 World Cup. Jessica also researched freedom of information laws to assess transparency at the city level.

Student picture

Rolland Giberson

Rolly worked with partners to evaluate and alter the direction of the FIFA project amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This included identifying Candidate Host Cities as viable forums to push for compliance with FIFA’s human rights commitments, conducting legal analysis of potential impediments to Freedom of Information Act requests in Candidate Host Cities, and the production of a Candidate Host City questionnaire. In the spring, he will join the Community Equity Team, with whom he will work to create resources for communities interested in utilizing Community Benefit Agreements.

Trade team

Preparing for investment claims: Pandemic policies in Latin America

Clients and collaborators — Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment, Georgetown’s Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas (CAROLA), association of attorneys general in Latin American countries (including Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay.

Student picture

Brian Chen

Brian examined international investment treaties and dispute settlement proceedings. He focused on exploring potential strategies for allowing host states to defend against arbitration claims arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, Brian researched and evaluated strategies at the arbitration stage that could relieve host states of their liability. This included studying treaty-based defenses and customary international law doctrines such as necessity, police powers, and force majeure.

Student picture

Philip von Pelser Berenberg

Philipp’s work focused on investor-state arbitration. Philipp researched strategies to mitigate the risk of claims by foreign investors against host states arising out of regulations related to COVID-19. Philipp evaluated potential responses to claims at the pre- and post-award phase of investor-state arbitration. In the spring, Philipp will continue to evaluate responsive strategies and analyze whether they align with the political realities of host states.


2019-20 Student Projects

Trade Team

Designing a Carbon Tax

Student picture Sofia Panero – fall 2019/spring 2020
Sofia researched international proposals related to carbon measures and examined the benefits, potential deficiencies, and WTO compliance for each plan. During the spring semester, she is working on how a carbon tax can comply with trade rules that apply to customs unions and free trade agreements.
Student picture Sam Pickerill – fall 2019
Sam analyzed how a carbon tax can comply with treaties that prohibit double taxation. First, he analyzed the seven carbon tax proposals introduced in the 116th Congress and categorized each proposal along criteria developed by project collaborators. Then he analyzed the relative benefits and critiques of carbon tax designs that apply a border tax adjustment (BTA) on both imports and exports, as compared to designs that apply a BTA only on imports.
Student picture Alex Keyser – fall 2019/spring 2020
Alex analyzed proposals for creating a forum for international coordination of border adjustments for a carbon tax to determine whether they comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization. In the spring, he is analyzing and drafting options for countries to waive dispute settlement rights at the WTO.
Student picture Greg Hawkins – fall 2019/spring 2020
Greg first analyzed the arguments for and against the modification of border tax adjustments in a federal carbon tax. He focused on WTO compatibility and administrative feasibility, as well as potential impact on revenue and trade flows. Greg’s second project looked at the potential for international coordination across different carbon pricing regimes with the same core considerations in mind.

Reform of investor-state dispute settlement

Client – Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas (CAROLA at Georgetown Law) and  Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI).
Goal – Reform over 3,000 international investment treaties in ways that:
1. Protect governments’ ability to regulate in the public interest,
2. Create a multilateral framework for reform that provides flexibility for smaller governments to collaborate, and
3. Promote consistency with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Objective – Develop a legal framework that countries can use to amend existing investment treaties to better align with sustainable development.

Student picture Christina Welch – fall 2019/spring 2020
Christina examined the role of sustainable development in deliberations of Working Group III (WGIII) within the UN Commission on International Trade Law. In spite of WGIII’s mandate to focus on procedural reforms to the investor-state dispute settlement, she found that many delegates expressed an interest in incorporating sustainable development into the investment regime. In the spring, she will focus on drafting a proposal for a Framework Convention on Sustainable Investment.
Student Picture James Carey – fall 2019/spring 2020
James analyzed international investment treaties and dispute settlement proceedings. His analysis identifies common ground for reform in the current investment system. James evaluated how different models being considered by the international community meet the needs of reform and showed what those models look like when applied to investment disputes. In the spring, James will continue to analyze options on the menu of reform, focusing on elements of a Framework Convention.

Health and food team

Purchasing healthier food in schools

Clients – Office of the State Superintendent of Education for Washington, D.C.
Goals – Help D.C. public schools and public charter schools contract for healthy and sustainable foods in compliance with regulations governing the National School Lunch Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Objectives– 1. Draft contract templates and guidance memos that school officials can use to improve their school food contracts. 2. Train school officials.

Student picture Ezra Tanen – fall 2019/spring 2020
Ezra met with school officials to understand the improvements they want to implement in their food purchasing. He then drafted contract templates and guidance on, for example, how schools could legally pool their resources to jointly contract with school-food vendors, and how schools could legally supplement school meals with school garden produce. In the spring, he will organize training workshops and edit the legal guidance based on that experience.

University food purchasing

Collaborators – Kalmanovitz Initiative on Labor and the Working Poor and sustainability staff at other universities.
Goals – Secure the safety, health, and labor rights of workers in the university’s food supply chain. The initial focus is on poultry, the leading source of protein on campuses.
Objectives – 1. Develop a code of conduct that addresses the abuse of workers in the supply chains of university food-service contractors.
2. Establish a working group of universities to combine their purchasing power to shift industry practices.

Student picture Ashley Lee – fall 2019/spring 2020
Ashley surveyed supplier and vendor codes of conduct from universities, companies, and municipalities. She then extracted factors to consider in the development of a code of conduct. In the Spring, Ashley will survey abuses that poultry workers face, outline a code of conduct, and meet with collaborators from other universities to discuss a shared approach to work with food-service contractors.

Oral health for special-needs children

Collaborators – Georgetown Health Justice Alliance and the George Richmond Foundation.
Goal – Improve access to oral health services for low-income families, particularly those who have children with special needs (e.g., physical disabilities, autism, etc.).
Objectives – 1. Create incentives for dentists in D.C. to treat adolescents with special needs.
2. Expand the scope of practice for dental hygienists in D.C.

Student picture Maya Desai – fall 2019/spring 2020
Maya analyzed the age-related transitions of adolescents with special health care needs (ASHCN) under the Medicaid program in D.C. She developed policy solutions to create incentives and train general dentists to treat ASHCN. In the spring, Maya will reach out to collaborators in order to determine which policy solutions are the most feasible, effective, and efficient and create a strategy for making policy change.
Student picture Sammi Weiner – fall 2019/spring 2020
Sammi identified ways to expand the scope of practice for dental hygienists within D.C. as an important policy to increase access to care. To that end, she drafted legislation to present to the D.C. Council. In the spring, Sammi will reach out to collaborators who will play advocacy roles in support of the legislation and try to get traction for the bill.

Human rights team

Worker rights in the 2026 FIFA World Cup

Collaborators – AFL-CIO, Human Rights Watch, Sport and Rights Alliance, Centre for Sports and Human Rights, International Labor Rights Forum, International Trade Union Confederation, and others.
Goal – In response to the human rights abuses and worker deaths in Qatar during preparation for the 2022 World Cup, FIFA required bidding countries for the 2026 World Cup to submit human rights strategies with their bids. The Harrison Institute is working with a coalition of labor and human rights organizations to ensure that FIFA and the United Bid, which is composed of the United States, Mexico, and Canada, implement their human rights strategy.
Objectives – 1. Assess the risk of human rights abuses for workers in FIFA’s supply chains (e.g., construction, hotels, food service, transportation, electronics, and licensed apparel).
2. Develop a scorecard to compare the capacity of potential host cities to secure human rights. 3. Frame a policy menu to support a national advocacy campaign to strengthen human rights from the bottom-up.

Student picture Katie Rumer – fall 2019
Katie assessed the risk of human rights abuses in the hotel industry. This included housekeeping staff within U.S. hotels and the imported textiles upon which hotels depend for bed, bath, and room furnishings. Her analysis shows that worker abuses are rife in both domestic and global supply chains. Katie also analyzed the risk that local laws that provide an arbitration process to resolve worker complaints would be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
Student picture Mat McKenna – fall 2019/spring 2020
Mat assessed the risk of human rights abuses in the food industry, domestically and globally. Like Katie, he found extensive evidence of harms to workers, locally and globally. He also researched the interaction of federal, state, and local law in occupational safety and health to inform the development of a scorecard to evaluate potential host cities’ worker protections. In the spring, he will analyze the risk that local policies might be preempted by federal or state law, and he will continue analysis to support the development of a robust scorecard.

Climate team

Adapting to coastal flooding

Clients – Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership (ESCAP), a collaborative of local governments.
Goals – Help the Eastern Shore prepare for the impacts of climate change and work toward ESLC’s goal of making it the most resilient rural region.
Objectives – 1. Regional plan – Identify common resilience objectives across six counties and two municipalities as a first step towards developing a regional strategy to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
2. Adapt roads to flooding – Identify legal options for local governments to address repetitive road flooding.

Student picture Linn Bumpers – fall 2019
Linn worked with ESLC and ESCAP to identify adaptation goals and priorities among counties and municipalities on the Eastern Shore. She surveyed local plans and vulnerability studies that address climate risks and impacts across ESCAP communities, and interviewed representatives from each jurisdiction. Linn also analyzed the legal obligations of state and local governments in Maryland to maintain roads that are repeatedly flooded due to sea-level rise and extreme precipitation.

Climate equity – affordable housing

Clients – Georgetown Climate Center (“GCC”).
Goal – Ensure that tools used by city governments to prepare for the impacts of climate change (e.g., heat, flooding) are distributed equitably across all communities.
Objectives – Identify and analyze planning, regulatory, and funding tools that increase the climate-resilience of urban housing stock:
1. Preserve existing affordable housing;
2. Develop new affordable housing; and
3. Avoid accelerating displacement and gentrification of existing communities.

Student picture Alex Votaw – fall 2019/spring 2020
Alex is researching legal and policy initiatives that enable cities to help create and preserve climate-resilient affordable housing. She is researching and developing national case studies that demonstrate local government solutions at the intersection of equity, climate resilience, and affordable housing. Her research will be featured in the Georgetown Climate Center’s forthcoming online toolkit on legal and policy tools for equitable adaptation in U.S. cities.