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UHLC's Center for U.S. and Mexican Law hosts fall webinar series

Dec. 18, 2020 — Throughout the Fall 2020 semester, the University of Houston Law Center’s Center for U.S. and Mexican Law led four events covering a wide range of topics from gender-based hate crimes, the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent USMCA and the North American Consortium of Legal Education (NACLE) annual workshop.

“The Law Center is a comparative law center between the United States and Mexico and is pretty unique in that we are the only center especially dedicated to the legal comparative aspects of Mexico and the United States,” said Alfonso López de la Osa Escribano, Director for U.S. and Mexican Law. "We are very proud of having this label, aiming at building programs for bilingual lawyers that will work at ease in Mexican and U.S. legal environments”

The first event, “What's in the name? The significance of having a gender-specific crime of femicide in Mexico,” was led by Lucas Martínez-Villalba, an affiliate scholar of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law.

“Recognizing femicide as the most extreme form of gender-based violence is imperative, but it is not the only way to address the situation of violence against women,” Martínez-Villalba said. “Instead, special attention should be given to previous instances of gender-based violence which contribute to the continuum of violence women are subject to.”

“U.S. and Mexico need to have a dialogue beyond borders. The problematic is not a problem that is faced only by one country; it is a regional conflict,” Alicia Kerber-Palma, Consul General of Mexico, said. “It is a cultural situation, and it needs to go beyond the political agenda to have something related to basic human rights.”

The second discussion, "U.S.-Mexico Cooperation: Health Policy and Pandemics," presenting the foresight methodology and the health-related chapters from the recent book “The Future of U.S. Mexico Relations” from the collection Law, Policy and Society - University of Houston (Arte Publico Press 2020), included among others:

  • Andy Hines, Associate Professor, Foresight Graduate Program, University of Houston
  • Eva Moya, Associate Professor, College of Health Sciences, University of Texas El Paso
  • Tony Payan, Director, Center for the United States and Mexico, Rice University, Baker Institute for Public Policy

“Almost every loss of human life that we have seen associated with COVID has an underlying condition of which primarily the chronic metabolic diseases are prime,” Moya said. “Approximately 12 percent of adults in the United States are living personally with diabetes, and we know that we have a high mortality rate due to diabetic complications in both the U.S. and Mexico.”

The third webinar, “The New USMCA: Challenges and Opportunities,” featured:

  • Roberto Velasco-Alvarez, Director General for North America in Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ed Lebow, Partner of Haynes and Boone, LLP
  • Alberto de la Peña, Counsel for Haynes and Boone, LLP

“We are currently living in a very complex situation which has prompted greater regional and global cooperation at all levels in a relatively short timeframe,” Velasco-Alvarez said. “We see international cooperation as the best tool to transition to our future, and we acknowledge the USMCA as the starting point in North America to boost and consolidate these efforts.”

“Regarding the labor conditions in Mexico, under the USMCA as negotiated and signed, Mexico promised and in fact took immediate steps to implement many reforms, including adherence to International Labour Organization standards regarding the right to organize protections for labor unions,” Lebow said. “These reforms, however, without a more stringent enforcement mechanism were still seen as insufficient by some members of the U.S. Congress.”

The fourth and last event, was the North American Consortium of Legal Education (NACLE) annual workshop, currently directed by López de la Osa Escribano. NACLE is a consortium of 11 law schools in North America that promote the mobility of students and professors. The topic this year was “USMCA, Energy, Environment, and Health Challenges: A Legal Context in Complex Times of COVID-19.”

The seminar, organized in the three official languages of North-America, Spanish, French and English, featured David Gantz, Emeritus Samuel M. Fegtly Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Arizona, Anthony van Duzer, Professor Hyman Soloway Chair in Business and Trade Law at University of Ottawa, Louis de Fontenelle, Professor of Energy Law at the University of Pau est des Pays de l’Adour in France, Thomas Burelli, Adjunct Faculty at the University of Ottawa, Aubin Nzaou, Marie Curie-Sklodowska Research fellow at the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law and the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Center and others. A writing competition took place for students from the involved universities and three students, Dalia María Vargas Alvarado, Eric Goodchild and Omar Sánchez García, were recognized for their work.

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