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Global Challenges
Issue no. 11 | March 2022
The Uncertain Future of Human Rights
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Articles for this issue
Global Challenges
Issue no. 11 | March 2022
The Uncertain Future of Human Rights

After 70 years of existence, human rights are facing criticism from many sides, some even claiming their fundamental inadequacy for the 21st century or imminent end. The human rights regime, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and several subsequent covenants, is variously being accused of being elitist, Eurocentric and/or imperialistic in its universal claims and remaining blind to local customs and cultural specificities; of being implemented too tamely, inconsistently or even counterproductively by International organisations that are frequently co-opted by powerful state interests; and of being unable to address fundamental societal issues and transformations such as inequality, digital transformations and climate change.

Further critiques castigate human rights’ unmet promises, framing them as a neoliberal smokescreen, or admonishing their anthropocentrism, overlooking the rights of animals, plants or other non-human entities such as robots. In such a state of flux and uncertainty, human rights have also become, to some extent, victims of their own success, being articulated not only by an increasing armada of human rights actors and activists but also by atavistic forces referring to them more cynically. Such inflationary use of human rights, increasingly following a logic of transversality as reflected in the ever-expanding UN human rights issues or the flourishing of corporate CSR strategies and codes, ultimately risks eroding their operability and epistemic traction.

However, as shifting geostrategic constellations, the rise of populism, identitarian politics, authoritarian governments and the current epidemic are all contributing to further fragilising human rights, they remain more crucial to the world’s future than ever. The current Dossier therefore asks how the human rights regime will likely evolve faced by such challenges. Can it reinvent itself and, if so, how? Can we imagine human rights without the pretension to universalism and beyond the decline of the liberal paradigm? Are we moving towards human rights that are more collective in nature or of variable geometry? New perspectives and insights are needed from the legal, social and human sciences to answer these pivotal questions.

This dossier was produced by the Graduate Institute's Research Office in collaboration with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

Articles for this issue

The Uncertain Future of Human Rights
  • I
     

    Human Rights in Flux: New Directions beyond Universalism

    Reading time: 8 min
  • 1
     

    Human Rights: The State of the Art

    Reading time: 4 min
  • 2
     

    Rescuing Human Rights: Challenges of Identity and Diversity in a Context of Democratic Backsliding

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 3
     

    Historical Foundations of Human Rights and Contemporary Crises

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 4
     

    Human Rights and Anthropology

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 5
     

    The Future of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 6
     

    Feminisms and Human Rights

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 7
     

    Coherence and Alignment: The Future of Business and Human Rights

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 8
     

    Depletions: The Future of Population Decline and Human Rights

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 9
     

    Watering Down Human Rights? A Healthy Environment for the Rights to Water and Sanitation

    Reading time: 5 min
  • 10
     

    Governance of Digital Technologies and Human Rights

    Reading time: 6 min
Other Issues
Issue no. 6 | November 2019
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Endangered Earth
Global Challenges
Issue no. 6 | November 2019
Endangered Earth

Soil is an essential component of the Earth's ecosystem. It contributes to and fulfills a wide range of environmental and societal functions such as food production, water filtering, carbon storage and the preservation of biodiversity essential to the survival of the human species. While soils have witnessed significant environmental degradation in recent decades, lands have been the object of increased economic competition and financial speculation. The commercial and financial scramble for land has never been more intense as transnational actors and governments such as the Chinese seek large scale bids for land in the Global South that have been likened to new forms of neocolonialism. The consequences of this double tension include the loss of biodiversity, floods, climate change, famines, forced migration and conflict. 

It is the assumption of the present Dossier that issues such as large scale exploitation of land and natural resources, soil degradation, biodiversity, food security and climate change are closely interdependent and cannot be treated in isolation. Seeking to explore and better understand the interlinkages between the material degradation of soils and the increased extractive, commercial and speculative pressure on lands, the Dossier aims to address some of the broader stakes the Anthropocene is currently facing: How irreversible is the damage that has been caused to earth's soils? Have we reached a point of no return? How many people is the earth able to feed and for how long? Are we trapped in a Malthusian logic? How will climate change depend and interact with changing patterns of soil distribution and depletion? What is the impact of large scale deforestation and natural resource extraction on the environment, particularly the soils? What are the governance patterns and technological solutions emerging to address land depletion and scarcity? What are some of the cybernetic loops and mechanisms of autoregulation through which the earth reacts to human interference? 

Issue no. 3 | March 2018
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Globalization 4.0:
Evolution or Revolution?
Global Challenges
Issue no. 3 | March 2018
Globalization 4.0: Evolution or Revolution?

Has globalisation reached its apex after centuries of growth as suggested by the latest figures of the WTO? In the affirmative, does this imply that we are ushering into a new era of degrowth? Or are we witnessing the reorganisation of the very architecture of globalisation, which remains based on the twin logic of the acceleration and continuous increase of the volume of exchanges, as well as the steady densification of geographic connectedness. Are global exchanges restructuring concomitantly to the fourth technological revolution and the expansion of the digital economy? The present Dossier proposes to approach this question by observing the nature and the evolution of the principal flows that characterize globalisation.