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(R)evolutions in International Human Rights Law and Politics: Actors, Norms, and Strategies

Institutions
International relations
TOU001
Nina Reiners
Freie Universität Berlin
Pilar Elizalde
University of Oxford

The international human rights regime is at a crucial point in time, continuing to inspire scholarship on its legitimacy, effectiveness, and future directions. In the last two decades, we have witnessed three main trends in global governance and human rights. First, on the question of legitimacy, historiographic work focused on uncovering the role of Western and Global South actors in the origins of global human rights norms, and the institutional structures created to monitor states’ compliance with their commitments and bring justice. Second, the debate on the effectiveness of the regime is still open. The development and refinement of human rights protection indicators has seen significant progress in this vein. Yet, not only do pessimistic takes observe the ineffectiveness of the regime but also highlight that, under certain circumstances, its institutions and mechanisms can generate backlash. In this line, we see increasing criticism and attacks on human rights institutions and norms which are also part of a broader crisis of the liberal international order. However, as a final trend, these drawbacks are met by an increasingly diverse group of actors seeking to protect and promote human rights through innovative agendas and strategies, including the further development of law and politics. We observe that these trends constitute overlapping paths and want to gain more clarity on our ontological standpoint in human rights research. With multiple actors simultaneously supporting and challenging, protecting and violating human rights, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish their ulterior motives and the implications for (r)evolution in the regime. In this Workshop, we seek to bring together scholars whose research addresses the outlined trends (on their own or in tandem) in present and future international human rights law and politics. We hope this Workshop helps advance our understandings of the actors, norms, and strategies involved in spearheading, enabling, and/or resisting the evolutions and revolutions that shape the human rights system. We are particularly interested in contributions critically examining the legitimacy, effectiveness, and future of this system and investigating alternative pathways to its current institutions. We expect papers in this Workshop to address questions such as: 1. Who is setting the global human rights agenda? Who are the revolutionaries of human rights law and politics? Will we see a shift in protagonism in the human rights system from actors not traditionally involved with it? 2. Why do some human rights norms become more institutionalized than others? What is the prospect for the latest developments in human rights norms? To what extent can change in international human rights law and politics be observed? 3. Which strategies do human rights advocates and challengers apply? What role do new technologies play in the protection and violation of human rights? 4. What are the implications for the international human rights regime when the actors, norms, and/or strategies used in its development are not associated to liberal democratic values or compatible with capitalism? To discuss these questions, we invite conceptual and empirical contributions from scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

The Workshop aims to attract scholars who look at human rights law and politics through an international and comparative politics lens, allowing us to come to a more comprehensive account of current developments. We expect to bring together an emerging network of junior and senior scholars who work on the topic in the fields of international relations, international law, political economy, political theory, political sociology, and comparative politics. While we welcome conceptual Papers, we particularly hope to inspire new empirical work with a strong theoretical foundation – from different ontological perspectives. We invite in-depth analyses of single cases and involved causal mechanisms, as well as large-N comparative Papers that can help assess variation in effects across regions, human rights, and institutions. The Workshop understands human rights as legal, political, and social norms and practice, and the main institutions for their development located at the United Nations (e.g. Human Rights Council; Treaty bodies; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) and the regional human rights organs (e.g. European, Inter-American, African Courts for Human Rights). We are interested in Papers that look at human rights actors, norms, and strategies more broadly, beyond what has traditionally received scholarly attention. We would therefore like to see contributions examining, for example:  the role of new actors, such as private law firms  new technologies, such as social media  new institutions, such as the Universal Periodic Review  new agendas, such as business and human rights  the right to development  the right to a healthy environment  the rights of older persons.

Title Details
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