‘Government(ality) By Experts: Human Rights as Governance’

Bal Sokhi-Bulley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The suggestion that the general economy of power in our societies is becoming a domain of security was made by Michel Foucault in the late 1970s. This paper takes inspiration from Foucault?s work to interpret human rights as technologies of governmentality, which make possible the safe and secure society. I examine, by way of illustration, the site of the European Union and its use of new modes of governance to regulate rights discourse – in particular via the emergence of a new Fundamental Rights Agency. „Governance? in the EU is constructed in an apolitical way, as a departure from traditional legal and juridical methods of governing. I argue, however, that the features of governance represent technologies of government(ality), a new form of both being governed through rights and of governing rights. The governance feature that this article is most interested in is experts. The article aims to show, first and foremost, how rights operate as technologies of governmentality via a new relation to expertise. Second, it considers the significant implications that this reading of rights has for rights as a regulatory and normalising discourse. Finally, it highlights how the overlap between rights and governance discourses can be problematic because (as the EU model illustrates) governance conceals the power relations of governmentality, allowing, for instance, the unproblematic representation of the EU as an international human rights actor
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-271
Number of pages21
JournalLaw and Critique
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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