The Future of Human Rights: Now More Than Ever

The Future of Human Rights: Now More Than Ever

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March 282017
Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut
Alison Brysk, 2016-2017 Marsha Lilien Gladstein Visiting Professor of Human Rights, UConn

Human rights have fallen on hard times-yet they are needed now more than ever. Far from the “end times” of human rights, it is time for a reboot that closes historic gaps and confronts emerging challenges. The future of human rights lies in the dynamic strength of human rights as evolving political practice. People all over the world—from Amazonian villages to Iranian prisons—use human rights to gain recognition, campaign for justice, and save lives. The future of human rights must use this practice to construct new pathways to address both historic wrongs and globalizing threats. First, human rights must cope with the unfinished business of security, citizenship, and governance gaps that were overlooked or overwhelmed by the international regime. Next, rights claims must expand to encompass a full spectrum of “free and equal” in “rights and dignity,” in order to be more inclusive of the realities of all the world’s peoples. Finally, the rights regime must expand mechanisms to take on board growing functions of mobilization and multiple levels of institutions. The way forward is to recognize human rights as the best strategic pathway for emancipation and empowerment in a globalizing world, expand the toolbox, and deepen human rights consciousness as an ethos for global citizenship.