Are Rights Out of Time? International Human Rights Law, Temporality, and Radical Social Change

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Abstract

Human rights were a defining discourse of the twentieth century. The opening decades of the twenty-first, however, have witnessed increasing claims that the time of this discourse as an emancipatory tool is up. Focusing on international human rights law, I offer a response to these claims. Drawing from Elizabeth Grosz, Drucilla Cornell and Judith Butler, I propose that a productive future for this area of law in facilitating radical social change can be envisaged by considering more closely the relationship between human rights and temporality and by thinking through a conception of rights which is untimely. This involves abandoning commitment to linearity, progression and predictability in understanding international human rights law and its development and viewing such as based on a conception of the future that is unknown and uncontrollable, that does not progressively follow from the present, and that is open to embrace of the new.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817
Number of pages22
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Volume28
Issue number6
Early online date05 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 05 Oct 2019

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