Center for International Human Rights

Center for International Human Rights

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                                          Theme for 2018-2019 Academic Year


The ‘Dark’ Side of Human Rights: Challenges and Responses

Human rights face mounting backlash from forces threatened by their emancipatory promises and potential. However, the problems do not come only from forces inimical to the idea of human rights. Often human rights are undermined by the indeterminacies of the human rights discourse, by their cooptation by powerful actors and by their misuse as a result of actions undertaken by their sincere and devoted advocates. Critiques have included arguments that human rights are a western and imperial construct, that they have failed to protect the most vulnerable, that they have marginalized other discourses of social justice, that they have been coopted by governments and that they have been often misused by their proponents.

This year, the Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) will examine some of these issues in light of the growing challenges facing the human rights regime and the pressing need for effective responses. In this context, we propose to address the following focal issues and questions:

  • What are some of the main challenges facing the promotion and protection of internationally recognized human rights?
  • What are some of the main protection gaps facing efforts to address the needs of minority and of vulnerable groups (women, children, migrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, incarcerated persons)?
  • How have the evolving responsibilities of states, international organizations, and NGOs affected their capacities to advance the cause of human rights?
  • In what ways has the existing human rights regime contributed to some of the challenges and threats that it is currently facing?