The power of rights and the rights of power: what future for human rights?

Article English OPEN
Falk, Richard (2008)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: Ethics & Global Politics (issn: 1654-6369, eissn: 1654-4951)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/egp.v0i0.1815
  • Subject: Human rights; Geopolitics; Hegemony; Counter-hegemony; International law

This article explores the tensions between geopolitics and human rights under present conditions of world politics. It takes notes of the rise of human rights as a discourse in international law, and draws attention to the use of this discourse by powerful states, especially the United States, to validate non-defensive uses of force. It also notes the role of the media in facilitating the geopolitical agenda associated with exerting pressure on some conditions (Darfur, China, Cuba) but exempting other situations as serious or more so (Gaza, Saudi Arabia). This article also discusses the reliance on the human rights discourse by oppressed groups and by countries in the South, and the emergence of a counter-hegemonic tradition in human rights that challenges geopolitical projects in a variety of settings. The main conclusion is that neither an uncritical endorsement nor a cynical dismissal of human rights is appropriate at this time. Keywords: human rights; geopolitics; hegemony; counter-hegemony; international lawCitation: Ethics & Global Politics 2008. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v1i1.1815
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