The (Mis)Appropriation of Human Rights by the New Global Right: An Introduction to the Symposium

18 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2023 Last revised: 4 May 2023

See all articles by Grainne De Burca

Grainne De Burca

New York University School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law; European University Institute

Katharine Young

Boston College - Law School

Date Written: August 1, 2022

Abstract

The meaning of human rights has always been susceptible to multiple and sometimes conflicting interpretations. Yet something distinct seems to be afoot more recently: an array of efforts at concerted legal change in the human rights field has appeared in in different parts of the world, on the basis of a supposedly “reformed” characterization of human rights, including in Putin’s Russia, Erdogan’s Turkey, Modi’s India, Bolsanaro’s Brazil, and the United States under the former Trump Administration, alongside developments in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere. We describe these arguments and moves as appropriations - and indeed as misappropriations - when they use human rights language in the service of ends which are exclusionary, repressive or anti-pluralist in character, highly retrogressive or reversing of previous commitments, and evasive of external monitoring or accountability. We argue that by invoking the language, tools and framework of human rights to exclude or repress particular groups and individuals while consolidating authority and avoiding accountability, they misappropriate a human rights system which – despite extensive contestation and critique - has been developed over a long period around certain core values including equal human dignity, inclusion and accountability. The essays in this symposium track a range of these actors and the strategies they are using to reshape the human rights field, examining recent moves towards transnational coordination of nationalist, populist, right-wing and authoritarian movements. The analyses from various jurisdictions around the world focus on attempts to remake and – we argue – reverse a range of progressive achievements of the human rights system around gender, religion, property, culture, and equality.

Keywords: human rights, misappropriation, populism, illiberalism, nationalism, right-wing approaches to human rights, human rights and gender, human rights and religion, human rights and property, human equality, human dignity

JEL Classification: K33, I31

Suggested Citation

De Burca, Grainne and Young, Katharine, The (Mis)Appropriation of Human Rights by the New Global Right: An Introduction to the Symposium (August 1, 2022). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 23-32, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 591, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4335288 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4335288

Grainne De Burca

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

HOME PAGE: http://rb.gy/jp2g1p

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Salviati
Via Bolognese
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.eui.eu/people?id=grainne-de-burca-1

Katharine Young (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

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