Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

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Image from the Law and Society Association

Image from the Law and Society Association


A number of RegNet researchers attended the Law and Society Association’s annual conference in early June in Boston. The conference’s overarching theme was ‘Power, privilege, and the pursuit of justice – Legal challenges in precarious times’. Many of panels addressed the potential as well as the limitations of human rights, including a panel on ‘The Extralegal Affairs of Rights’ convened by RegNet’s Kate Henne. Kate discussed her research on the UN’s ‘Sport for Development’ program and the way in which a ‘right to play’ is being promulgated along narrow, Western-centric lines arguably ill-suited to the contexts in which it is being applied. The measurement tools used to evaluate the right to play further complicate these pursuits, for they privilege projects that do not have universal application. In short, these prescriptions, combined with Western ideological viewpoints, often confine the nature and shape of development projects, even when consulting local actors at formative stages.

As part of the same panel, Emma Larking considered the gap between the universal promise of human rights, how these rights are instantiated in international law, and the attribution of rights to undocumented immigrants in Australia and the US. She also discussed the way in which undocumented immigrants draw on the language of human rights in their political mobilisations. While many cosmopolitan thinkers argue in favour of an appeal to human rights that focuses on their capacity to transcend the nation-state, Emma suggested the political force of rights demands within the liberal democratic state lies in traditions and commitments which are – for the moment at least – largely internal to the state.

Human Rights Implications for the US Supreme Court’s Alien Tort Statute Decision

Next week we’re pleased to publish a commentary by CIGJ PhD candidate (and Regarding Rights contributor) Cynthia Banham on Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. The April judgment significantly curtailed the application of the Alien Tort Statute; in doing so it begged new questions about the place of US domestic law for those seeking remedy for extra-territorial violations of human rights.

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