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Changing rights and wrongs

The transnational construction of indigenous and human rights among Vietnam's Central Highlanders

Oscar Salemink

In the context of the conflict-ridden relationship with the Vietnamese state and the growing transnational interference by their vociferous diaspora, this paper analyzes particular shifts in the framing of their rights. A notion of collective group rights that are by definition particularistic and exclusive has given way to individual rights (especially religious freedom) that are universal and inclusive. Simultaneously, a localized and communal emphasis has changed to a transnational one oriented toward international fora. Local interests and aspirations thus come to be framed as universal human rights that pertain to individuals, rather than local rights that pertain to collectives. In this light, recent attempts to theorize minority or indigenous rights appear to be ineffective and will probably be counter-productive.

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Karin Tengnäs

The global competition for African land is at a historical peak. Local effects of large-scale land acquisitions depend on multiple factors, but women's rights and livelihoods are generally very fragile due to historical and contemporary injustices. Good land governance is important for turning the land acquisitions into equal and equitable development opportunities. The human rights-based approach promotes good governance by adding strength and legal substance to the principles of participation and inclusion, openness and transparency, accountability and the rule of law, and equality and nondiscrimination. By empowering rights-holders and enhancing duty-bearers' capacity, international development cooperation can lead to wider and more gender-balanced inclusion of civil society in negotiations of large-scale land acquisitions and greater adherence of duty-bearers to the rule of law. This is especially important in African countries with large amounts of land and weak legal and institutional frameworks to protect rights, especially those of women.

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Helmut Graupner

The basic human right to sexual autonomy and self‐determination encompasses two sides: it enshrines both the right to engage in wanted sexuality on the one hand, and the right to be free and protected from unwanted sexuality, from sexual abuse and sexual violence on the other. This concept elaborated by the European Court of Human Rights, in the light of European legal consensus, suggests that the age of consent for sexual relations (outside of relationships of authority and outside of pornography and prostitution) should be set between 12 and 16 years. In any event the age of criminal responsibility should be the same as the age of sexual consent.

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Christopher J. Allsobrook

This critique of the theory of freedom and power, which Lawrence Hamilton advances in Freedom is Power (2014), maintains that Hamilton’s appeal to a genealogy of needs - (established in his earlier work, The Political Philosophy of Needs (2003)) to distinguish power from domination – is inconsistent with the theory of power he advocates. His account of needs is no less vulnerable than that of rivals to the problem of power he identifies. I advance a rights recognition theory, which is compatible with this theory of power and I argue that it helps to provide support for the distinction, which Hamilton wants to make, between power and domination, which one cannot obtain from his theory of needs.

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The Human Rights Dialogue

Foundationalism Reconsidered

Maria Granik

In this article, I defend the need for meaningful dialogue about the foundations of human rights. The article consists of four main parts. Part I provides context for the argument by discussing the status of foundations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and several other human rights legal instruments. Part II outlines the main criticisms of foundationalism by Michael Ignatieff and Richard Rorty. Part III deals with two main problems raised by anti-foundationalist positions. First, the motivation to defend and implement human rights is often tied to a rational understanding of why these rights are worthy of protection. Second, rejecting the search for rational foundations can itself lead to ideological problems, even if this search cannot ultimately succeed. Silence concerning justifications for rights informs our conversation about them, and making any concealed underlying assumptions explicit can be valuable. Finally, Part IV discusses ways in which a genuinely dialogical foundationalism can be possible - one that does not fall into the trap of dogmatism. More specifically, this section addresses the possibility of a secular foundationalism by examining Michael Perry's critique of this approach.

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The Rise of the "Global Social"

Origins and Transformations of Social Rights under UN Human Rights Law

Ulrike Davy

The article explores how national social policy ideas and UN-sponsored international social rights interrelate, historically and recently. Based on UN documents of the 1940s and 1950s, the article argues that UN-sponsored social rights – the "global social" – originally did not primarily reflect welfare statism (as taken for granted today), but drew on competing ideas (liberal welfare statism, developmental thinking, socialism). Based on an analysis of the state reports under the Social Covenant from 1977 to 2011, the article also argues that the states' reading of the UN social rights became more homogeneous over time. Only from the 1990s did essentials of welfare statism spread globally. This recent reading of the "global social" focuses on poverty and basic rights, such as the right to food and housing, with instruments like social assistance and measures enabling access to health services, education and land. The article draws on a global database of UN documents created by the author.

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Islam, Rights, and Ethical Life

The Problem of Political Modernity in the Islamic World

Michael J. Thompson

This paper considers the roots of the dissonance between political modernity and Islamic societies. It argues that primacy has to be given to the analysis of different paradigms of 'ethical life' which are ways in which ethical-political categories are organized within society. A distinction is made between 'nomocentric' and 'rights-based' paradigms of ethical life, the former associated with a system of moral duties and the latter with a system of political and ethical rights accorded to the individual. I argue that the emphasis on a nomocentric paradigm of ethical life has the effect of suppressing the development of a rights-based ethical and political discourse in large enough segments of the society to limit a progressive change toward political modernity. I further analyze the ways in which forces of social and economic modernisation play a role in antagonizing the relation between modernity and the more traditional forms of ethical life which predominate in Islamic society and political/ethical thought.

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Kenneth Shockley

The likelihood that the poor will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change makes it necessary that any just scheme for addressing the costs and burdens of climate change integrate those disproportionate effects. The Greenhouse Development Rights (GDRs) framework a empts to do just this. The GDRs framework is a burden-sharing approach to climate change that assigns national obligations on the basis of historical emissions and current capacity to provide assistance. It does so by including only those emissions that correspond to income exceeding a development threshold. According to the GDRs framework, this development threshold considers the right to develop to be held by individuals rather than the nations in which those individuals find themselves. The article provides a critique of this framework, focusing on three concerns: First, in generating national obligations the GDRs framework collapses significantly different moral considerations into a single index, presenting both theoretical and practical problems. Second, the framework relies on a contentious and underdeveloped conception of the right to develop. Third, the framework's exclusive focus on individual concerns systematically overlooks irreducibly social concerns. The article concludes by pointing to an alternative approach to balancing development against the burdens of climate change.

Spanish La alta probabilidad de que los pobres sufran de manera desproporcionada los efectos del cambio climático requiere que cualquier sistema que se supone de hacer frente a los costos y las responsabilidades del cambio climático incorpore precisamente estos efectos desproporcionados. Esto es precisamente lo que el modelo de Derechos al Desarrollo con Emisiones Responsables de Gases de Efecto Invernadero (GDR por sus siglas en inglés) está tratando de hacer. El modelo promueve un enfoque para compartir la carga relacionada con los efectos del cambio climático asignando obligaciones nacionales sobre la base de las emisiones históricas y la capacidad actual de prestar asistencia. Lo hace mediante la inclusión de sólo aquellas emisiones que corresponden a un ingreso superior a un 'umbral de desarrollo' de finido. De acuerdo con el modelo GDR, este umbral implica el derecho al desarrollo que tienen las personas individuales, no los países en que viven. En este artículo presento una evaluación crítica del modelo propuesto con base en tres puntos principales. Primero, cuando el GDR genera obligaciones nacionales, colapsa significativamente diferentes consideraciones morales en un solo índice, presentando problemas teóricos y metodológicos. Segundo, el modelo se basa en una polémica y poco desarrollada concepción del derecho al desarrollo. Tercero, el enfoque exclusivo en las cuestiones individuales ignora sistemáticamente las irreductibles preocupaciones sociales. Concluyo esbozando un enfoque alternativo para equilibrar el desarrollo contra de las cargas del cambio climático.

French La très forte probabilité que les pauvres souffrent de façon disproportionnée des effets du changement climatique exige qu'un système qui aborde les coûts et les responsabilités du changement climatique intègre justement ces effets disproportionnés. C'est précisément ce que le système des Droits au Développement dans un Monde sous Contrainte Carbone (DDMCC - anglais GDR, Greenhouse Development Rights) essaie de faire. Ce modèle propose la répartition entre les pays des responsabilités/contraintes associés aux effets du changement climatique en assignant des obligations nationales sur la base de leurs émissions cumulées et de leur capacité actuelle à apporter une aide. Ce e approche inclut uniquement les émissions de gaz correspondant aux revenus dépassant un certain seuil de développement. D'après le modèle DDMCC, le seuil de développement considère un droit au développement qui revient aux personnes individuellement, et non aux pays dans lesquels elles vivent. Dans cet article, je dresse un bilan critique du modèle proposé sur la base de trois points principaux. Premièrement, le modèle DDMCC confond différentes considérations morales en un seul index quand il génère des obligations nationales, ce qui pose des problèmes à la fois théoriques et pratiques. Deuxièmement, il se base sur une conception du droit au développement suje e à polémique et trop peu développée. Troisièmement, l'accent mis exclusivement sur les préoccupations individuelles néglige systématiquement les préoccupations sociales pourtant incontournables. Je conclus en esquissant une approche alternative perme ant d'équilibrer les exigences du développement et les contraintes du changement climatique.

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Emma Carmel and Regine Paul

This article examines how the EU regulates the rights of migrants as a matter of regional-level governance, and with what implications. To expose the differential logics behind the governance of migrant statuses by the EU, we compare the regulation of 12 legal categories of migrants, across three dimensions of rights: civil, economic, and social. We find that while asylum seekers are unequivocally subject to the most conditional regulation of rights, at the other end of the hierarchy, EU citizens' rights are subject to caveats and ambiguity. The allocation of diverse statuses to migrants privileges different kinds of rights for different categories of migrants, and does not construct clear hierarchies of rights or statuses. This complex stratification of migrant rights highlights the important role of EU-level regulation in generating a migrant rights regime, with substantive implications for migrants entering and living in the European Union.

Spanish Este artículo examina cómo la Unión Europea (EU) regula los derechos de los migrantes como una cuestión de gobernanza a nivel regional, y sus consecuencias. Para exponer las lógicas diferenciales detrás de la gobernabilidad de los estatus migratorios de la UE, los autores comparan la regulación de doce categorías legales de migrantes, a través de tres dimensiones de derechos: civiles, económicos y sociales. Un notable hallazgo es que mientras los solicitantes de asilo son inequívocamente sujetos a la regulación más condicional de sus derechos, en el otro extremo de la jerarquía, el estatus de los derechos de los ciudadanos de la UE está supeditado a advertencias y ambigüedad. Para otras categorías de migrantes reguladas por la UE no se observaron jerarquías claras en ninguna de las dimensiones de los derechos, y la asignación de diversos estatutos a los inmigrantes es tal que instituye una compleja estratificación que privilegia diferentes tipos de derechos para las diferentes categorías de migrantes. La emergente estratificación compleja de los derechos de los migrantes en la gobernanza europea, tiene implicaciones más amplias para los derechos de los migrantes dada su articulación con la normatividad coexistente de los Estados miembros.

French Cet article examine comment l'UE réglemente les droits des migrants à l'échelle régionale et ce que cela implique. Afin d'exposer les logiques différentielles qui se situent derrière la gouvernance des statuts des migrants par l'UE, nous souhaitons ici comparer la réglementation de douze catégories légales de migrants, à travers trois dimensions des droits de l'homme: civils, économiques et sociaux. Nous constatons que les demandeurs d'asile sont sans conteste soumis à la réglementation la plus conditionnelle des droits l'homme tandis que, de l'autre côté de l'échelle, les droits de l'homme des citoyens de l'UE font l'objet de circonspection et d'ambiguïté. Pour ce qui est des autres catégories de migrants réglementées par l'UE, on n'observe de hiérarchies précises dans aucune des dimensions des droits de l'homme et la répartition des divers statuts de migrants représente une stratification complexe dans laquelle sont privilégiés les différents types de droits pour les différentes catégories de migrants. Cette stratification complexe des droits des migrants souligne le rôle important que joue la gouvernance de l'Union européenne dans la conception d'un régime des droits des migrants et les implications significatives qu'elle a sur les migrants qui entrent et vivent dans l'Union Européenne.

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Grounding Rights

Populist and Peasant Conceptions of Entitlement in Rural Nicaragua

David Cooper

Since the Sandinistas returned to power in Nicaragua in 2007, ideas about rights have been central to the governing party’s populist project. The rights in question are understood to require the production of ‘organized’ citizens who become integrated into the mechanisms of popular governance. But for rural Sandinistas who participated in the revolutionary agrarian reform of the 1980s, rights are about land. For some, realizing rights has required disentangling themselves from local organs of organized life, resulting in their exclusion from the government’s populist model of rights. Contending ideas about how to legitimately ground the rights that result—and the effort of these excluded Sandinistas to make revolutionary ‘struggle’ the basis of entitlements— trouble a standard anthropological model that views abstract rights as subsequently particularized in practice.