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This is not a handbook in the traditional sense. Our aim is not to map the field of ‘new’ human rights in the sense that we cover all or even the most important ‘new’ rights under discussion. Rather, we aim at an analysis of unresolved issues surrounding ‘new’ human rights. That debate was kicked off with Philip Alston’s seminal article on ‘quality control’ for ‘new’ human rights published in the American Journal of International Law of 1984. While the topic has since received academic attention for over three decades, it has only ever been treated directly in fairly short journal articles, or in rather cursory remarks in book-length treatises. Legal theory tends to focus on the human rights project as a whole and to leave the development of individual rights aside. Monographs on individual ‘new’ rights, on the other hand, usually take up their development and novelty in passing – but whether one is dealing with a much-discussed right, such as the right to water, or a less-examined right, such as the right to gestational surrogacy, the focus is on their substantive problems rather than the temporal rhetoric surrounding them. By bringing together a large number of ‘new’ rights, looking at them explicitly through the temporal lens and combining the analyses with theoretical approaches in the cross-cutting introductory chapters, we hope to fill these lacunae in current research. In attempting to map these structural questions as comprehensively as is feasible, this volume then really is a handbook.
The book provides in-depth insight to scholars, practitioners, and activists dealing with human rights, their expansion, and the emergence of 'new' human rights. Whereas legal theory tends to neglect the development of concrete individual rights, monographs on 'new' rights often deal with structural matters only in passing and the issue of 'new' human rights has received only cursory attention in literature. By bringing together a large number of emergent human rights, analysed by renowned human rights experts from around the world, and combining the analyses with theoretical approaches, this book fills this lacuna. The comprehensive and dialectic approach, which enables insights from individual rights to overarching theory and vice versa, will ensure knowledge growth for generalists and specialists alike. The volume goes beyond a purely legal analysis by observing the contestation, rhetorics, the struggle for recognition of 'new' human rights, thus speaking to human rights professionals beyond the legal sphere.