The global political, economic, normative, structural and ideational landscape has undergone significant change in recent decades, with no signs of abating. There are new – or newly important – players, both state and non-state-based, which affect global political power asymmetries and inject competing ideas, interests, and priorities into the global political scene. New and evolving institutions and authority structures raise deep and profound questions about global (and regional and national) governance. These questions lead to an ambiguous global situation as norms, institutions and power structures are called into question and challenged on multiple levels.
Nowhere has this ambiguity been more acute and clear than in the area of human rights. A human rights regime which, while far from perfect, appeared to rest on a global consensus and seemed impervious to change, has undergone rapid and deep transformation – in ways which appear to both support and undermine the protection of human rights.
Challenges from emerging non-Western powers highlight a lack of consensus on fundamental priorities and approaches to the relationship between people and power, the governed and the governors, freedom and order. Terrorism and other security challenges pose seemingly imponderable conundrums for civilian and basic human rights protection. Climate change raises questions of intergenerational justice and poses corollary rights threats resulting in forced migration, food insecurity, and humanitarian crises.
The global refugee regime, a core set of ideas and institutions dating from the end of the Second World War, now faces unprecedented challenges and been put to tests never imagined by its creators – challenges and tests that states and international institutions have failed to adequately meet. International criminal justice mechanisms have been created with high hopes that those who commit mass atrocities will be punished and justice will be done, only to be undone by lack of adequate global support and political will. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which heralded a new recognition that human rights are a core part of states’ claim to legitimacy – has frequently failed to gain decisive advantage over traditional notions of sovereignty and state interest.
This combination of new players, political power asymmetries, institutions, along with deep material challenges to the contemporary global order, raises profound questions about the future of human rights norms and institutions, as well as the actual enjoyment of human rights across the globe.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Conference: Human Rights in an Age of Ambiguity
Today through Wednesday, June 13-15, 2016, the fifth joint international conference on human rights will be held at Fordham University. The theme is: "Human Rights in an Age of Ambiguity." The program is here. Here's the idea: