Journal of Human Rights

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Print ISSN: 1475-4835
'Structural adjustment' has been a central part of the development strategy for the 'third world'. Loans made by the World Bank and the IMF have been conditional on developing countries pursuing rapid economic liberalization programmes as it was believed this would strengthen their economies in the long run. M. Rodwan Abouharb and David Cingranelli argue that, conversely, structural adjustment agreements usually cause increased hardship for the poor, greater civil conflict, and more repression of human rights, therefore resulting in a lower rate of economic development. Greater exposure to structural adjustment has increased the prevalence of anti-government protests, riots and rebellion. It has led to less respect for economic and social rights, physical integrity rights, and worker rights, but more respect for democratic rights. Based on these findings, the authors recommend a human rights-based approach to economic development.
This paper summarizes findings and conclusions from our application of the Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index developed by Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph (2009) to the states of Brazil. The key features of this methodology in assessing economic and human rights fulfillment is the focus on state obligations rather than only on human outcomes, and reference to both level of state resources and the historic achievements of comparator state parties as criteria in assessment. Our results show that none of the states of Brazil are completely meeting their obligations to fulfill economic and social rights although some are far more successful than others, and that fulfillment does not depend on income. States struggle most to meet their obligations to realize the right to decent work and adequate housing, but are somewhat better and meeting their obligations to fulfill the rights to education, the highest attainable standard of health and adequate food. Furthermore, a ranking of the states based on our findings differs significantly from rankings based on GDP per capita or the state-level Human Development Index values alone. This paper summarizes our methodology and findings and also proposes several avenues for further study.
The Argentinean democratization process had a promising beginning. The commission to investigate disappearances (1983–1984) and the military juntas' trials (1985) were without precedent in a region devastated by state terrorism. Argentina showed the world it was capable of addressing matters of truth and justice; it became a key global case study for communities dealing with the aftermath of violence, issues of impunity and accountability, or questions of reconciliation and forgiveness. Then, a process of legalization of impunity revealed the civilian government's partial commitment to justice as well as the military's power to set limits. However, in 2004 major events unfolded that might set new historical precedents concerning justice for crimes against humanity. At this historical moment, both local initiatives and the globalization of justice are influencing the possibility of canceling the cycle of impunity. This essay takes us back to a period where prospects for justice were not very promising. In 1998, more than two decades after the coup of 1976, I asked a group of young people, “If you were Minister of Justice, what would you do regarding this past?” The essay explores young Argentineans' opinions about the political and legal system, their feelings of anger and impotence, and what they believe should be done. It evaluates the need for justice and recommendations on whom should be punished, why, and how. The information is helpful to understand how young people view Argentina's past as a background against which current changes are occurring. It also sheds light on how the postdictatorship generation was conceptualizing justice and the roles they may play to create a culture of accountability and respect for human rights.
This essay examines how witnessing became encoded as an act of advocacy that may furnish a response to the plight of distant victims, and how it has impacted upon contemporary humanitarian ethics. By following the discourses and practices of witnessing elaborated by the French section of the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) since the late 1970s, the essay argues that witnessing helped transform a well-established humanitarian sensibility into a full-fledged humanitarian responsibility, which has been thoughtfully and systematically attentive to the pitfalls of transnational aid. The essay shows that when mobilized by individual and collective actors who strove to constitute themselves as subjects of moral conduct, witnessing took on disparate forms and rationalities that amounted neither to eye-witnessing nor simply to the public use of speech. It concludes by offering a reappraisal of the contemporary politics of humanitarianism, arguing that contemporary humanitarian ethics maintains dynamic and shifting relations with the political.
This paper discusses the recurring trope of the “encounter“ in popular Hindi cinema and its implications as far as the human rights question is concerned. Encounter, in the legal sense, means a situation in which the police have an exchange of gunfire with certified criminals or suspects. The purpose could be self-defense, defense of citizens, or prevention of the escape of detainees. However, encounter is also a colloquialism used in the public sphere to describe extra-legal killings. Although it can be traced back to the early eighties, the encounter was a practice irresistibly systematized by the Mumbai Police Special Branch since the Bombay blasts of 1993. Its perpetrators like Vijay Salaskar, Praful Bhonsle, and Daya Nayak have since become folk heroes and many films have been made on the theme. This paper analyzes cinematic encounter as a trope of exception within the normative workings of the liberal constitutional state apparatus. The state addresses the danger posed by the other by announcing the other as endemically pathological in being a criminal/terrorist/Muslim. The encounter is thus the outcome of a habit of statist thinking that is a theodicy; that is, it closes the ontological gap between human procedures of judgment and the divine ideal of justice. The state can therefore immediately and violently connect reality to law, bypassing juridical and legislative institutions that should mediate such passages. In doing so, it displays an executive sovereign power outside the ambits of democratic liberalism or even the Foucauldian idea of governmentality; as Hannah Arendt would have put it, the state practices a “secrecy“ in open daylight.
The field of international relations has long debated the meaning of security and its proper place in global politics (Ullman 1983). In recent years, this debate has focused on what should be considered in the realm of international security, and many scholars have made a practice out of securitizing issues that are not conventionally seen as matters of security. Issues, such as the environment (Deudney 1990; Kakonen 1994; Litfin 1999) and HIV/AIDS (Chen 2003; Elbe 2006; Price-Smith 2001; Prins 2004), are some of the nonmilitary issues that have been—for better or for worse—framed as international security concerns in both academic and policy circles. But while the security debate, especially in light of human rights discourse, is engaging conceptually (and even a useful teaching tool), as responsible scholars we must ask ourselves how the application of this security framework affects policy and practice for these nontraditional security issues. In other words, does the security framework really help bring global attention to issues and groups of people that are normally marginalized? Has it meant more resources and more involvement by state and non-state actors? Or has it resulted in narrow, self-interested, and even militaristic responses to complex social problems? This article sheds light on these questions by analyzing women and the issue of gender equality as it has been securitized by UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Using the securitization theory put forth by Buzan, Wæver, and de Wilde (1998), it empirically explores the benefits and drawbacks of this process within the context of women's activism in the UN both in terms of political efficacy and normative implications.
This paper explores the interface between sociology and psychoanalysis using Zygmunt Bauman's notion of the 'stranger' as a conceptual tool to investigate the possibility of developing a sociology of the imagination. The aim of this paper is to explore the way in which we can look at human emotion without resorting to some form of cognitive science model and to understand the way in which we perceive and act in relation to others using some psychoanalytic ideas. In other words, how we can imagine how the imagination works in an interpretive, subjective and hermeneutic way and the specific implication this has for the basic human rights of individuals.
Utilizing the analogy of violence to a volcano, with its seething preconditions that ultimately lead to an eruption, this paper applies negotiated order theory to an analysis of violent outbreaks in 1992-93 in Los Angeles and numerous German cities but not in Chicago, New York, or Dresden. Such theoretical considerations as assumptions, perceptions, power relationships, social structure, communication, and interaction strategies emerge as pertinent considerations. Despite different cultures and histories, similar patterns in Germany and the United States are found, suggesting one possible means of proactive steps to prevent violence.
Human rights provisions addressing technology have been much ignored. The connections between technology and human rights have, however, received renewed interest recently. Patent disputes, stagnation in publicly funded research and the role of technology in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, are three areas of substantial interest. After an analysis of the two main provisions on technology of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Article 11.2(a) and Article 15.1(b), the relationship between technology and environment, is analyzed. As also evidenced in two other treaties, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, there is no assumption of any conflict between technology and the environment. International cooperation for the realisation of the right to food, is widely acknowledged, and such cooperation also includes technological efforts to produce more high-yielding varieties. The article proves that there is a basis in human rights treaties, especially in the ICESCR, for serving as a guidance in the formulation and implementation of technology policies. The wording of the relevant paragraphs are, however, not of such a kind as to set out clear and unambiguous obligations.
The article identifies the obligations required of a state party under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and demonstrates how they may be infringed as a result of huge debt repayments to creditors. It argues that creditor states have human rights obligations beyond their borders and towards the people of debtor states. These “extra-territorial” human rights obligations make imperative the demand for debt relief to the poorest debtor countries.
When Forsythe began writing about the International Committee of the Red Cross in the 1970s the ICRC was mainly studied by historians and legal scholars interested the Geneva Conventions. His scholarship broke new ground in understanding humanitarian politics and the policy making process at the ICRC. This research included archival work, accompanying delegates in the field and he was a part of the research team that produced the vital Tansley Report. His over 20 books and articles on the ICRC and humanitarian protection have helped us to understand not only the evolution of the ICRC over the last 60 years but also the impact of humanitarian organizations in International Relations.
Within the span of three months in 2012/2013, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) handed down three major acquittal verdicts: two Croatian Army generals, three members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and a high ranking Serbian army general. This article analyzes the political fallout from the acquittals to make three principal arguments. First, in the absence of broader transitional justice framework in the former Yugoslavia, the ICTY has become the principal instrument of both retributive and restorative justice, which places undue burdens on an institution with a narrow and technical mandate. Second, the ICTY has brought this unrealistic expectation on itself by legitimizing its work to hostile domestic publics as a path to reconciliation and creation of a historical transcript—promises that a court is not equipped to either make or keep. Third, the human rights community in the region has relied on the ICTY to be its “force multiplier” in building transitional justice efforts. This has further conflated the role of the international court with homegrown transitional justice campaigns and has made the political challenges for local efforts much more daunting.
Recent research examines the influence of trade and capital liberalization on states’ and private corporations’ respect for labor rights in developing countries. This literature, however, generally overlooks the potential role of development aid on these rights. Herein I argue that official development assistance—specifically aid to civil society programs and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—helps improve core labor standards. Such aid promotes labor rights through strengthening labor organizations, related civil society groups, and NGOs and improving their capacity to mobilize and bargain with the state and capital. Development aid likewise indirectly promotes respect for labor rights through a diffusion process from donor states with superior labor rights standards to recipients. I test hypotheses drawn from the arguments via quantitative analysis, employing new data on labor rights practices as well as disaggregated foreign aid data.
This article explores how “traditional values” are being used by the Russian government to refute the claim that “LGBT rights are human rights” and justify the introduction of anti-homopropaganda laws, and how members of the Russian LGBT community have sought to contest it. Centrally, it traces the development of a discourse that refutes the essentialization of sexual identity and, in doing so, seeks to challenge the focus on individual identity-based rights of contemporary human rights norms. This discursive shift has meant that opponents of the legislation have had to develop contestation strategies that collectively seek to present an alternative interpretation of “traditional values.” The article concludes by considering the implications of the Russian case for human rights norms and for the notion of universal human rights more widely, arguing that it represents a serious challenge to the viability of identity-based LGBT rights claims as a basis on which to advance observance of fundamental human rights due to their homonormativity.
Despite an enhanced emphasis on the human right to adequate food in the last decade, this has not had a measurable effect on the number of undernourished persons around the world. Rather, the number of hungry persons has increased from 800 million in 1996 (the year of the World Food Summit) to more than 925 million today. Acknowledging that enough food is produced globally to enable everyone to have an adequate food intake, the article analyzes the international dimensions of the right to food as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), particularly the international obligations that can be read out from the relevant provisions. The ICESCR recognizes the right to food by applying strong wording, and some of its provisions have not been adequately observed in order to provide for alternative policies. It is the lack of political will of the States which explains the increase in the number of hungry persons globally, not the human rights system per se. Moreover, the ICESCR is not formulated in a manner which provides for a substantive overhaul of the international economic system, even if the States must change their conduct to comply with the ICESCR.
The defend the nation frame. Translations: (clockwise from left) "These are Fascists?"; "These are Poles?"; "Gay is OK." Source: DlaPolski TV (2011).
Type of societal response described by respondents (in percent), N = 125 Organizations, Don't Know = 8. Source: Author's Transnational LGBT Organizations Survey (2011).
This article utilizes original survey and interview data to explore why norms governing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights mobilize an active resistance in some cases and not in others. Based on a comparison of Poland and Slovenia, this article shows that differing perceptions of threat define the way international norms are received in distinct domestic realms. Threat perception is heightened in cases where religion is historically embedded in the essence of the popular nation. In Poland, the Catholic Church created a role for itself as a symbol of the nation. There, the domestic opposition succeeded in framing a narrative that linked LGBT rights to external forces threatening national values. By contrast, the Catholic Church in Slovenia could neither maintain nor (re-)establish similarly strong ties to the popular nation, stifling the opposition's ability to mobilize a robust popular resistance. Whether resistance is effectual, however, is a related but separate question. The data suggest that resistance produced in high-threat contexts can be self-defeating in that it enhances the salience of the norm in the domestic setting.
This article will first look at the recent promulgation by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of its ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). This development follows on from ASEAN's official attempts since the development of the 2007 ASEAN Charter to promote a “people-oriented” ASEAN. This article explores the various criticisms that have arrived of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and, in particular, considers the criticisms concerned with or relevant to sexual orientation and gender identity rights. Second, the article uses the context of the arrival of the AHRD and, indeed, the arrival of its auspicing institution, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), to ask broader and deeper questions about the cultural politics of making rights claims and the manner in which these claims may contribute to the development of a more democratic politics.
Since South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission (TRC), a therapeutic moral order has become one of the dominant frameworks within which states attempt to deal with a legacy of violent conflict. As a consequence, the grammar of trauma, suffering, repression, denial, closure, truth-revelation, and catharsis has become almost axiomatic to postconflict state-building. The rise of the postconflict therapeutic framework is tied, ineluctably, to the global proliferation of amnesty agreements. This article examines the emergence and application of two therapeutic truisms that have gained political credence in postconflict contexts since the work of the TRC. The first of these is that war-torn societies are traumatized and require therapeutic management if conflict is to be ameliorated. The second, and related truism, is that one of the tasks of the postconflict state is to attend to the psychiatric health of its citizens and the nation as a whole. The article shows how, and to what effect, these truisms coalesce powerfully at the site of postconflict national reconciliation processes. It argues that the discourse of therapy provides a radically new mode of state legitimation. It is the language through which new state institutions, primarily truth commissions, attempt to acknowledge suffering, ameliorate trauma and simultaneously found political legitimacy. The article concludes by suggesting that, on a therapeutic understanding, postconflict processes of dealing with past violence justify nascent political orders on new grounds: not just because they can forcibly suppress conflict, or deliver justice and protect rights, but because they can cure people of the pathologies that are a potential cause of resurgent violence
Part 1 of this article detailed the controversy surrounding the 1992 television image of Fikret Alic´ and others imprisoned at Trnopolje camp in Bosnia, demonstrating how doubts about its veracity were unsustainable. Part 2 explores the historical, political and visual context in which the particulars of the controversy are located. It explores what is involved in the concept of a 'concentration camp', as well as the nature of the Nazis' concentration camp system and the implications of this for the memory of the Holocaust and our understanding of contemporary atrocity. Then documentary evidence about the war in Bosnia is introduced in order to understand the significance of Omarska and Trnopolje in their wider context. Following that, the general question of the relationship between pictures and policy, and the specific question for the relationships between photography and the Holocaust, is considered to illuminate the larger questions of how particular atrocities are represented. Finally, the article concludes with some thoughts on the politics of critique and intellectual responsibility in instances where criticism becomes historical denial.
The 1990s was the era of human rights awareness, democratic transitions, and growing involvement of international organizations and the nongovernmental sector in human rights education (HRE). The UN Decade for HRE from 1995–2004 was not only born out of the initiatives and pressures of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) but it also actively triggered many new private initiatives and commitments by governments to increase HRE. New information technologies, globalization, and the rise of civil society paved the way for new strategies and methods to disseminate the idea of human rights worldwide. With this in mind, two aspects will be discussed in this article. First, how HRE can become an integral part of all formal education systems. In this respect I will discuss the role of governments and state responsibility. Second, there were shifts and developments that made HRE an adaptable and coherent education concept oriented towards future challenges such as climate changes or migration. Coherent international concepts and a clear definition of HRE should help avoid the misuse of education in human rights for political or ideological reasons.
What rights in particular does the United States seek to promote in the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), and what countries does the United States single out for sanction in the MDBs for their record on human rights? The present article examines these questions through an analysis of the US voting record in the MDBs. In 2004, the US Treasury Department began publishing the US voting record in the MDBs along with an explanation for why the United States votes against certain proposals. This article analyzes those votes specifically regarding human rights. Overall, the United States pursues a variety of human rights issues in the MDBs against a variety of countries with poor human rights records. More specifically, the two most prominent trends revealed in the data are the United States consistently voting against proposals from China for human rights reasons and the United States voting against proposals from countries that are alleged to be hiding war criminals.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) human rights are often assumed to travel from the core to the periphery, namely from the Global North to the Global South. However, these rights flows and resistances are more complex than a unidirectional model might suggest. Using a transnational perspective, we consider resistances to LGBT rights in places where LGBT rights are supposedly assured. In Canada and Great Britain, where various forms of equities legislation for LGBT people have been enacted, there is an increasing opposition to LGBT gains. The transnational circulation of these oppositional discourses can be seen in how Canadian and British organizations talk to, and about, each other and illustrate transnational networks that create resistances in the places where “we have won.” This questions a sole focus on resistances in places that do not have LGBT equalities legislation, usually those outside the Global North and associated with “less developed others.”
A tide of oppression against sexual minorities disturbs current theories explaining the globalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights. But unlike the turn in race theory exploring rights as an outgrowth of marginalization, research on LGBT rights still focuses on structural changes or the influence of Western LGBT forms. This article argues that a powerful new and globalizing state homophobia is a convenient tool for state actors threatened by structural adjustment mandates from above and demands for greater opportunity from below. In such contexts, state actors and allies import ready-made LGBT identities as bogeymen, but in an unintended consequence, organizing among sexual minorities refracts those identities in transformative ways. From research in France, Uganda, and Egypt, this article concludes that some contexts, where the state targets LGBT rights claims as hostile, are better served through a politics of social and political capabilities over rights and identities to allow space for sexual minorities to develop.
Using the framework for analysis of criminal trial provided by Harold Garfinkel in 1961 in his "Conditions of successful degradation ceremonies, the author examines how hybrid war crimes trials balance appeals to international and local communities and their moralities. At present, he argues, hybrid tribunals risk descending into moral confusion, defeating the process whereby war crimes trials transform local morality to align it with international norms. Worse, they may risk allowing local actors to transmute unsuccessful degradation ceremonies into successful martyrdoms, reinforcing regressive national, tribal, and other group solidarities that the trial process seeks, in part, to address.
Countries going through democratic transition have to address how they will deal with the human rights crimes committed during the authoritarian era. In the context of amnesty for perpetrators, truth commissions have emerged as a standard institution to document the violent past. Increasingly, claims are made that truth commissions have beneficial psychological consequences; that is, that they facilitate 'catharsis', or 'heal the nation', or allow the nation to 'work through' a violent past. This article draws upon trauma counseling experience and anthropological fieldwork among survivors to challenge these claims in the context of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It argues that nations are not like individuals in that they do not have collective psyches, that nation-building discourses on reconciliation often subordinate individual needs, and that truth commissions and individual processes of healing work on different time lines. Calls for reconciliation from national leaders may demand too much psychologically from survivors, and retribution may be just as effective as reconciliation at creating symbolic closure.
In this paper I would like to analyze the transformation of the conscientious objection patterns which takes place in a large number of countries, and Israel (discussed in this paper more profoundly) is one of them. Paradoxically, the pacifist conscientious objection, which often lacks acknowledgement by the civil society, has received legal recognition in various countries, whereas the conscientious disobedience, which is usually justified by a large number of "legitimate" civil society organizations and groups, as a rule is not assigned any recognized status by the legal authorities. The broadening of conscientious disobedience and the rise in a number of civil society groups that evidently express their disagreement with the state authorities' current policy certainly demonstrate a decline in the extent of the legitimacy of the state and its institutions. The changing socio-political reality and the transformation of conscientious objection require a redefinition of the phenomenon of conscientious disobedience by the legal and legislative authorities.
The Number of Years Investigated by Truth Commission by Year of Establishment
Interest in cross-national comparison of transitional justice mechanisms has grown recently, as has the study of truth commissions in particular. However, as is true of many emerging areas of research, progress has been hampered by significant gaps in data and by a lack of consensus as to what constitutes the universe of cases. To address this problem, this article introduces the most comprehensive truth commission database we know to be in existence. First, we describe the process of collecting information on truth commission cases and outline our logic in determining what cases to include in the database. Then, we briefly discuss the attributes of truth commission cases included in the database and explain our reasoning regarding their inclusion. Finally, we use the data to provide an overview of patterns and trends in the use of truth commissions. Yes Yes
Rights talk dominates contemporary moral discourse. It is also having a growing impact on the development of legal principle and doctrine. One of the best known general arguments in support of rights-based moral theories is the one given by John Rawls, who claims that only rights-based theories take seriously the distinction between human beings; only they can be counted on to protect certain rights and interests that are so paramount that they are beyond the demands of net happiness (Rawls 1971). Charges and assertions of this nature have been extremely influential. After the Second World War, there was an immense increase in rights talk, both in the sheer volume of that talk and in the number of supposed rights being claimed. Rights doctrine has progressed a long way since its original modest aim of providing “a legitimization of … claims against tyrannical or exploiting regimes” (Benn 1978: 61). As Tom Campbell points out: The human rights movement is based on the need for a counter-ideology to combat the abuses and misuses of political authority by those who invoke, as a justification for their activities, the need to subordinate the particular interests of individuals to the general good (Campbell 1996: 13).
Indicators Selected
Features of the Alternative Formulas
Formula G Adjustments for Observed Achievements of 40, 60, 80, 90, and 95% at Income Ratios Up to 10. 
In response to an increasing demand for rigorous monitoring of states in meeting their human rights obligations, a growing literature has emerged on measuring human rights fulfillment. Data are increasingly used in human rights assessment and advocacy but with an ad hoc approach, with three common limitations: frequent use of subjective indicators; focus on the right bearer enjoyment of right without taking account of duty bearer conduct; and event or country specific analysis that does not allow comparisons over time or space. This paper explores a methodology for measuring economic and social rights fulfillment that is reliable and authoritative. It proposes a composite index that: uses available survey-based objective, rather than subjective, data; focuses on state obligations rather than solely on individual enjoyment of rights; and captures progressive realization of human rights subject to maximum available resources. Two calculation methods are proposed: the ratio approach and the achievement possibilities frontier approach. The paper identifies key conceptual and data constraints. Recognizing the complex methodological challenges, the aim of this paper is not to resolve all the difficulties, but rather to contribute to the process of building rigorous approaches to human rights measurement. The proposed index provides important new information compared with other measures of economic and social rights fulfillment; although it still does not fully capture some desired features such as the right to nondiscrimination and equality, and the right to social security. The paper also outlines an agenda for longer term research and data collection that would make more complete measurement possible.
The effects of treaties on human rights performance may depend in part on how domestic legal systems articulate with international law. The idea motivating this study is that constitutional law can make a difference not necessarily by including rights but by acknowledging and connecting to treaty law. This study is a first attempt to explore the interrelated effects of treaties, constitutions, and courts on human rights performance. The key proposition is that human rights treaties may have a greater influence on rights in countries whose constitutions incorporate treaty law and whose courts are independent of the political branches of government. The analysis tests that proposition using data from about 150 countries across 20 or more years. The results offer evidence that treaties, constitutions, and courts do combine, at times, to improve human rights performance, with judicial independence playing the key role.
Public opinion polls, Supreme Court decisions, and changes in federal and state law suggest that the United States is witnessing a support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights today that few would have predicted five years ago. This article offers a critical assessment of that growth as it is manifest in the context of marriage equality. It shows that efforts to advance same-sex marriage rights, while offering an important challenge to oppositional arguments, actually rely on norms quite similar to those of marriage equality opponents. Both advocates and opponents envision and enact the kind of citizenship appropriate to national health and identity in surprisingly similar ways. Both reinforce a set of norms, laws, and practices that make the right to marriage almost synonymous with family and responsible parenting. Such a consolidation of repronormativity may have troubling consequences for efforts to advance LGBT rights at home and abroad.
In order to investigate how local ideological forces affect the activities of human rights organizations and help determine our conception of human rights, in this paper I compare Physicians for Human Rights USA with its Israeli equivalent. Drawing on the insights of Antonio Gramsci, I show that the ideological differences between the United States and Israel influence the activities of each organization, prompting the two groups to privilege certain rights and to de-emphasize others. By positioning local human rights activism vis-a-vis the international inventory of rights, the paper's first part reveals that in the domestic sphere the conception of universal human rights is constituted through a series of exclusionary practices. It also demonstrates that frequently rights organizations not only appropriate a limited conception of human rights but actually reinforce this conception within the sphere in which they operate. While the empirical analysis focuses on two domestic settings, building on the work of Judith Butler I go on to show that in the international arena human rights are also contaminated by exclusionary ideological forces, arguing that their universality should also be conceived as provisional rather than absolute. Human rights, I conclude, are still a vital reference point for judging the morality of political, social, and economic practices, but they cannot be taken for granted and must be continuously subjected to critical assessment, particularly by the rights NGOs themselves.
The UN Security Council has dealt with human rights (defined to include humanitarian law) far more than anyone could have foreseen in 1945. Starting with limited action during the Cold War, the Council has greatly expanded its attention to human rights since roughly 1990. In a number of ways, there has been significant progress in trying to protect human rights through Charter Chapter VII enforcement, Chapter VI diplomacy including armed diplomacy known as peacekeeping, a renaissance in international criminal justice, and other measures. But persistent problems remain centered on a lack of agreement among the five permanent members.
Despite significant gains, the majority of the global population still lacks the right to effective judicial remedy for rights violations. Scholars have recently considered the possibility that creating a Global Court of Human Rights could remedy this problem. This article proceeds in three sections. It begins with a discussion of the most prominent historical proposal for an International Court of Human Rights, underscoring the early recognition that a Global Court of Human Rights was needed. The next section assesses the need for the Court by reviewing the current human rights enforcement and monitoring mechanisms. It then turns to concerns with the creation of a Global Court of Human Rights. After considering these arguments, the article identifies three key benefits of creating the Court and proposes a sketch of a Global Court of Human Rights.
While rape is often theorized as an act and expression of the rapist's power over the victim, this article seeks to offer a new, victim-centered conceptualization of rape. Focused specifically on war rape, it submits that rape constitutes a crime of identity that attacks the victim's very sense of self. To develop this argument, the article centers on two particular, neglected categories of victims—namely male victims of rape and children who are born as a result of rape. Examining these two categories of victims together is not only original but also enlightening, permitting deeper insights into who is affected by the crime of rape (directly and indirectly) and illuminating the significant identity dynamics that underpin this heinous crime. In short, while male rape often robs the victim of everything that he believes to be the essence of his male identity, thus emasculating him, the child born of rape frequently acquires a superimposed identity—inextricably linked to that of the rapist—that impedes the development of his/her own personal identity. Rape, in other words, is not only a sexual and physical violation but it is also a fundamental violation of the self.
Given recent advances in queer visibility and rights within Western countries and internationally, the assumption around sexual issues is one of progress. Conversely, resistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) rights is understood as a lack of progress in the modernization of the relevant society or population. This article suggests that one must understand resistance in a more complex framework, focusing on the opposition between Muslim cultures and LGBTIQ politics to illustrate this argument. This article argues that one should understand the dialectic of Islam versus queer rights as a process of triangulation and should describe how the positioning of queer rights and Muslim homophobia within a triangulated model invokes a sense of Western exceptionalism. Consequently, this article argues that the deployment of queer rights both at “home” and “abroad” operates in a “homocolonialist” fashion that renders resistant populations inferior in relation to superior Western values, rather than as simply “lagging behind” the West.
How does victimhood become a legal status? What are the preconditions, expectations, and restrictions attached to the state recognition of victims? This article draws upon theories of recognition to examine the German postunification administrative rehabilitation procedures for victims of East German state repression as a specific case of the state recognition of victims. An examination of victim claims and court decisions reveals that the legal category of victimhood in these cases is restricted to those whose conduct is morally blameless throughout and whose political motives fall within the accepted range of political ideologies. This highly restrictive approach to victimhood, dominant in German rehabilitation legislation since the 1950s, reveals the desire to shape the normative boundaries of the political community through the selective recognition of victimhood. The legal recognition of victims is tied to the recognition of the state as a legitimate authority in matters of justice and injustice.
Using the Israeli case as a point of reference, this paper suggests that the term outsourcing, borrowed from economic discourse, can serve as a powerful explanatory device that facilitates the conceptualization of existing processes pertaining to human rights violations. It allows us to draw a connection among several phenomena that are usually conceived to be independent and unconnected, while disclosing and capturing some of the predominant features characterizing the global violation of human rights. Demonstrating that outsourcing violations is an increasingly prevalent strategy used to mask power and thus abdicate social and moral responsibility, the author argues that its benefits are legal, political, and economic. From a legal perspective, the employment of subcontractors is effective since it obfuscates the connection between Israel and the contravening act, making it extremely difficult to hold Israel legally accountable for violations it sanctions. From a political perspective, outsourcing is beneficial, because even if the abuses are exposed, they are frequently presented to the public as having been perpetrated by someone else. Finally, the use of subcontractors is economically advantageous, because it enables the violator to avoid legal prosecution and political embarrassment, both of which can have an unfavorable effect on capital.
The forced transfer of children from one group to another is considered an element of the crime of genocide, yet this subject has attracted little scholarly attention. Using the history of the mass transfer of Armenian children during the Armenian Genocide of 1915–1922 as a case, this article argues that the study of child transfer and recovery is critical to both the history of human rights and a more sophisticated understanding of genocide, including the forms of genocide accompanying the colonial encounter. The experience of transferred children and their recovery or loss can help better clarify the historical relationship between the concepts of the rights of the child and individual human and minority rights as these have evolved before and immediately after World War II. Moreover, this article also contends that it is important to characterize child transfer as genocide, as opposed to colonial assimilation or acculturation as a feature of modernization, when explaining the broader social impact of mass violence, forced migration, and cultural destruction on victim/survivor and perpetrator communities.
Often presented as “less serious” than physical violence, and even sometimes used by peace-builders to buy social stability, in the Arab context corruption was one of the main grievances motivating the “revolutions,” on a par with joblessness and violations of freedom and other rights. To assuage public opinion, post-transition governments in Egypt, Tunisia, and beyond will have to equally address issues of corruption and the violent crimes, such as torture, committed by the security forces. Such initiatives raise the question of whether transitional justice mechanisms, as tools designed to face a legacy of mass human rights violations, are really adequate to address issues of corruption. Could the mandate of traditional transitional justice measures be modified or broadened so as to include this specific grievance? Or should radically new mechanisms be created to do so? The goal of this article is to map the possible links between transitional justice strategies and the fight against corruption, exploring possible coordination and opportunities for mutual reinforcement between the fields.
The case of Bariya Magazu In late 2000 a legal case in Northern Nigeria involving women's and children's rights attracted much Canadian attention. Bariya Magazu was sentenced to be flogged for having sexual relations outside marriage, and that sentence was carried out. Her case raises the issue of cultural imperialism in promoting supposedly international human rights norms. In particular, it raises the questions of what is a child, and what is 'cruel, unusual or degrading punishment'. It also shows how women's rights can become a focal point for indigenous politics, thereby also raising the question of who is the most appropriate actor to defend an individual's human rights. Thus, this Canadian case addresses the larger issue of world human rights politics, and the fear that many Western human rights advocates express of inadvertently acting as cultural imperialists. In this article I analyze various elements that affected this case. My purpose is to show its multiple social and political facets, some of which were not evident to the Canadians who tried to intervene to protect Bariya Magazu. My purpose is also to show how both Canadians (and more generally, 'Westerners' as a group) and Nigerians misinterpret each others' motives and fundamental moral beliefs. The Bariya Magazu case illustrates the world-wide politics of resentment, and reinforces the necessity for cultural sensitivity in advocating human rights norms. Simultaneously, however, it underlines the importance of both the international feminist and the international human rights movements. In analyzing this case, then, I put aside my own personal views. I support unreservedly all the rights of women and children enshrined in international human rights documents; I oppose all forms of corporal and capital punishment; and I oppose punishment of individuals merely because they engage in consensual sexual relations. Certainly, women should not be punished for acts for which men go free, nor should women be used as ideological scapegoats in situations of economic and political uncertainty, as now appears to be the case in Northern Nigeria. Many Nigerian feminists, Muslim and other, agree with me, as I will discuss below. Nevertheless, the purpose of this article is to discuss the social, legal, and political issues surrounding the Magazu case, not to advocate for her rights.
The human rights approach and the capability approach (CA) are significant development strategies. CA proponents devote extensive attention to the relationship between human rights and capabilities yet give them no significant role in CA theory. While the CA maintains rights and capabilities are distinct, it maintains they can reinforce each other in advancing human development and human rights. This article argues the attention given to human rights by the CA is because the two are rival strategies in development space. This rivalry arises out of the extensive commonalties of entitlements, norms, vision, and rhetoric shared by human rights and capabilities. Their competition as development strategies intensified in the first decade of the twenty-first century with their increased institutionalization, exemplified by the United Nations Development Programme's incorporating both approaches in its programs. The assertion they can reinforce each other, lacking empirical foundation, can only be seen as a hypothesis. A counterhypothesis is proposed that there is little prospect they can reinforce each other as they face an unbridgeable political divide derived from the experiential foundation of human rights in the realm of political power and the philosophical foundation of the CA in the realm of public policy. Human rights are practice seeking to be put into theory; the CA is theory seeking to be put into practice. The article concludes that both hypotheses need to be investigated through empirical social science research.
The children's rights movement has led, among other things, to a focus by human rights scholars on nationally orchestrated child kidnapping, known euphemistically as “child transfer.” This article will focus on a little known case that I will argue can be considered child transfer, that of Jewish orphans in the Netherlands after World War II. Kidnapping these children was not initially involved in their movement from parents’ to strangers’ homes; however, after the war, the State often refused to return some of these children to surviving Jewish kin or to the Jewish community. In other words, against the wishes of the decimated Jewish community after the Nazi genocide of the Jews, the postwar Netherlands government withheld Jewish children from their kin and from their ethnic community, keeping them in Gentile homes. I argue that this child withholding constitutes a form of child transfer because of the manner in which it was done and the reasoning behind it.
If gendered discourse is narrated by a woman, the female voice becomes a trope of identity and power—transgressing, dismantling, violating the law, and speaking her violation. By linking corporeal violence and linguistic, textual, and critical discursive violence engendered in representation, one inevitably confronts the body as the contested site of horrific memory, resistance, defiance of invisibility, and de-silencing. In Nora Okja Keller's poetically complex novel, Comfort Woman, the voice of a Korean comfort woman recounts her individual past and the past of her collective self. Akiko speaks of her body, abused by Japanese soldiers, as the broken nation of Korea, as a link to other violated women, as well as to her mother, grandmother, and daughter, who remain alive in her confused mind and spirit. At the same time, her daughter tries to lead a modern life in Hawaii but is powerfully drawn into her mother's past and current life and body. It is through the voiced violated female body that the cultural identity of Korea confronts the historical authority of the Japanese occupation, but only in death can Akiko return to her rightful spiritual country.
This paper offers a “critical epistemological reflection” on representations of survivor testimony in the Guatemalan truth commissions. As is commonly the case with TRC work, a good deal of effort was dedicated to the recuperation of victims' voices whose experiences of violence and suffering were brutally silenced in official Guatemalan state and public discourse. In this kind of “postconflict” context, the collection of survivor testimony is presumed to give new power to the victims and to create conditions for progressive social change in the aftermath of state-sponsored violence. However, my analysis problematizes these assumptions by elucidating multiple discursive forms, functions, and transformations in survivor testimony that are unrecognized in most truth commission reports. Examining these erasures in the representation of survivor testimony enables me to argue that the truth-telling process and analyses in truth commission efforts may well replicate dominant power relations that continue to tacitly disempower victims in unintended ways.
This article serves as an introduction to the articles in this special issue of the Journal of Human Rights on humanitarianism and responsibility. We thread the work of our contributors, along with other key scholars, together into a broader discussion about the possibilities and limitations of humanitarian responsibility. We first elaborate several constitutive dimensions of responsibility as it has been understood in humanitarian discourse, with particular attention to the way in which it has been deployed to both limit and extend the humanitarian mandate. We then consider how the discourse of humanitarian responsibility constitutes a departure from, and a possible alternative to, the discourse of human rights as the reigning lingua franca in which ethical arguments are advanced at the global level. Ultimately, we contend that while renewed emphasis on responsibility is no panacea for the difficult political and ethical questions that bedevil international humanitarianism and should not displace the focus on human rights, the process of critically engaging with this term may present a valuable opportunity to rethink the pursuit of global justice as a situated and contingent engagement between the self and those distant and proximate others who are exposed to catastrophes, natural and man-made.
Top-cited authors
Brandon Hamber
  • Ulster University
Richard Ashby Wilson
  • University of Connecticut
Rodwan Abouharb
  • University College London
David L. Cingranelli
  • Binghamton University
Cai Wilkinson
  • Deakin University