Dr Christopher Arif Bulkan is a Guyanese lawyer and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, UWI, St Augustine. As an academic and legal practitioner, he has been at the forefront of promoting indigenous rights, environmental rights, and human rights regionally through legal interventions, training and advocacy.
Along with Tracy Robinson and Douglas Mendes, in 2009 he co-founded the UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) which provides pro bono legal services, research and advocacy on human rights issues across various Caribbean territories. One of these groups is the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), with which U-RAP has commenced a collaboration which includes, among other activities, training of lawyers and human rights defenders to better respond to the needs of several marginalized populations.
Dr. Bulkan, who previously practiced law in Guyana (1990-2004), is the one of the few experts on the emerging legal framework dealing with the rights of indigenous people, which has regional and extra-regional implications. He is the author of the publication The Survival of Indigenous Rights in Guyana, and in April 2016 he was the Conference Chair of a regional conference on issues affecting Indigenous Peoples, held in Belize City, Belize.
Involved in human rights advocacy for his whole life, he has worked tirelessly to establish and defend the rights of several vulnerable and marginalized communities, including indigenous peoples, LGBT persons and persons living with HIV/AIDS in various ways. He has provided pro bono training and education on rights issues for a number of communities at workshops and public lectures in several Caribbean countries, including Guyana, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago. He has also been involved in public advocacy against the death penalty, both regionally and at events sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Dr. Bulkan was one of the initiators of two ground-breaking cases on gender rights in the Caribbean. They were Caleb Orozco vs Attorney General in Belize, and McEwan, Clarke, Fraser, Persaud and SASOD vs Attorney General of Guyana. The former case was successful on all counts in August 2016, while in the latter the acting Chief Justice of Guyana ruled in September 2013 that cross dressing, as an expression of one’s gender identity, is not illegal. Both cases are now at varying stages in the appeal process.
In addition to his advocacy work, he has also published widely in books, refereed journals, and even newspapers. Both his academic and public intellectual work, the latter most notably in his contributions to the Stabroek News’ In the Diaspora weekly feature, focus on issues of corruption and good governance, highlighting the links between constitutionalism and the attainment of economic and social rights in addition to civil and political rights. Dr. Bulkan also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Transparency Institute Guyana Inc., a local chapter of Transparency International, from 2011 to 2015.
Dr Bulkan was educated at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Canada on a Canadian Commonwealth scholarship, University College London in the UK, and the University of the West Indies. He joined the Faculty of Law at the UWI, Cave Hill in 2008 before moving to the St Augustine campus in Trinidad in 2012, where he served as Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Law from 2013 to 2016 and is now Senior Lecturer.