Populism and International Human Rights Institutions: A Survival Guide
Human Rights in a Time of Populism: Challenges and Responses (Gerald L. Neuman, ed. 2019 Forthcoming)
iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 133, 2018
29 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2018 Last revised: 28 Feb 2019
Date Written: June 26, 2018
Confronting hostile governments is nothing new for international human rights courts, treaty bodies, and other monitoring mechanisms. Yet there is a growing sense that the recent turn to populism poses a new type of threat that international human rights law (IHRL) institutions are ill equipped to meet. This chapter begins by identifying the facilitating conditions that have, until recently, supported the international human rights system. It then assesses the distinctive challenges that populism poses to IHRL institutions. Turning from diagnosis to prescription, the chapter reviews a range of legal and political tools that might be deployed to address those challenges and explores their potential efficacy and risks. The chapter’s final section argues that IHRL institutions should adopt four survival strategies for an age of populism—playing a long game, circumspection in interpretation, publicity and outreach, and creating windows of opportunity for supporters to mobilize.
Keywords: International, Human, Rights, Courts, Institutions, Populism, Law, Backlash, Politics, Survival, Strategies
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