Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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Law and Emancipation

By Hilary Charlesworth,

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Hilary Louvain

On 21st April, CIGJ Director Hilary Charlesworth was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Law and Criminology at the Catholic University of Louvain. With Professors Michael Grimaldi from the Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) and Jonathan Simon from the University of California, Berkeley, Hilary was honoured in a ceremony based on the theme, ‘Law and Emancipation’. This is the address given by Hilary at the conferral ceremony:

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Federalism, Political Will, and Canada’s Commitment to International Human Rights: A Historical Perspective

Image from National Union of Public and General Employees, Canada.

Image from National Union of Public and General Employees, Canada.

Jennifer Tunnicliffe
McMaster University

In April 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) conducted its second evaluation of Canada’s human rights progress under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The final report, which takes the form of recommendations from member states of the UNHRC, identified a number of concerns, including: the lack of a national action plan to reduce high levels of poverty; excessive use of force by police against citizens in marginalized communities; a failure to uphold the basic rights of Indigenous peoples; gender inequality; and violence against women and children, Indigenous women and girls in particular.

Central to the UPR report is a broad sense that Canada is failing to fully implement its international human rights commitments. Continue Reading →

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Human Rights: Old and / or New?

By Roland Burke

La Trobe University, School of Historical & European Studies

The search for the origin(s) of human rights is a pursuit that has attracted much scholarship, historical, legal, philosophical, and anthropological.  In the past decade, finding human rights – and their precursors – has seen the emergence of some highly impressive histories.  It has also, more recently, seen the emergence of a sharp historiographical clash.

While Paul Gordon Lauren’s Evolution of International Human Rights (2003) and Lynn Hunt’s Inventing Human Rights (2007) cast their glance back centuries to ‘find’ human rights, Samuel Moyn (The Last Utopia, 2010) casts his gaze back to find not rights, but their absence.  Continue Reading →