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2 - Sites of rights resistance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2011

Koen De Feyter
Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium
Stephan Parmentier
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
Christiane Timmerman
Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium
George Ulrich
Riga Graduate School of Law
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After the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community increasingly began to use the language of human rights to address issues of human dignity. A vast body of international and constitutional human rights law was enacted: the acquis of international human rights law, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, currently consists of no fewer than eight core conventions and numerous protocols. A plethora of intergovernmental, national and civil society institutions have committed to human rights as a policy objective and engage in human rights activities.

At the start of the new millennium, world heads of state and government resolved ‘to spare no effort’ to respect all internationally recognised human rights, and ‘to strive for the full protection and promotion in all our countries of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all’. The statement was made as part of a Declaration aimed at ensuring that ‘globalisation becomes a positive force for all the world's people’. Arguably, issues of human dignity could well have been addressed globally in a different language than that of the language of human rights, and there may be some disadvantages to the choice made – a tendency, perhaps, to overemphasise self-interest and private gain and to underestimate the importance to human dignity of an individual's relationships with others – but clearly significant progress has been made in mobilising the international community on the issue of human dignity through the instrument of human rights.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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