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On a Radical Politics for Human Rights

14 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013  

Illan Rua Wall

University of Warwick - School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2013


This chapter addresses the radical potential of human rights. It sketches the contours of the idea of ‘righting’, which is the resistant excess of human rights. Righting describes the situation where groups exceed the rights that are given to them in order to reconstruct the ‘institution of society’. However, simply insisting upon the excess of human rights, in a philosophical sense, is not enough. It is necessary to begin to think about how righting engages with law in order to generate such ruptural moments. The chapter looks to conceptions of critical legal strategy and constituent power to develop a vocabulary of righting. It argues that righting may entail the use of existent rights or the generation of new ones. However, the question is ultimately not about the preservation of a fetishized body of rights, but of unlocking the radical potential which lies within rights discourse.

Keywords: human rights, radical philosophy, autogestion, constituent power, the political, righting, critical legal theory, legal strategy

Suggested Citation

Wall, Illan Rua, On a Radical Politics for Human Rights (May 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Illan Rua Wall (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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