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Article

Constitutive Theory in International Relations  

Mervyn Frost

Constitutive theory is a philosophical analysis of the logical interconnections between actors, their actions, and the social practices within which they perform these. It draws on insights from the later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, as developed and extended by Peter Winch and John Searle. It highlights that actors and their actions can only be understood from within the practices in which they are constituted as actors of a certain kind, who have available to them a specific repertoire of meaningful action. It stresses that the interpretation of their actions involves: understanding the language internal to the practices in which they take place; understanding the rule-boundness of that language; the meaning of its terms; a holist perspective on the practice; and, crucially, an understanding of the ethics embedded in it. It briefly explores the implications of such a philosophical analysis for those seeking to understand the actors and their interactions in global practices. It highlights how international actors (both states and individuals) are constituted as international actors in two major international practices, the practice of sovereign states and the global rights practice. It indicates the guidance constitutive theory might provide for all who would better understand international affairs.

Article

Cultural Genocide in Law and Politics  

Alana Tiemessen

The violent and nonviolent repression of cultural groups, or using cultural means to destroy a group, is often identified as “cultural genocide.” The concept’s association with genocide, the “crime of crimes,” suggests it is of serious international concern. Yet contestation over its meaning and application has rendered cultural genocide more of a rhetorical tool than a crime that can be prevented or punished. The scholarly literature on this subject demonstrates that academics and policymakers have been hampered by legal debates and states’ political interests, from Lemkin’s original conception of genocide and the UN Genocide Convention negotiations to the ad hoc responses to “real world” cultural genocide cases. The legal debates have centered around whether cultural genocide can fit within the limits of the Convention’s definition of genocide, that is, the specific intent to destroy, specific protected groups as victims, and so on, and the assumption that genocide is primarily the physical destruction of a group by violent means. Interdisciplinary perspectives on cultural genocide, particularly from anthropology, have shown that cultural genocide is diverse in practice; while not always physically violent in its means or ends, it is closely associated with historical and modern cases of settler colonialism. The politics of cultural genocide has historically been manifested in the politicized negotiations of the Genocide Convention and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in which the self-interests of many states precluded any specific mention of cultural means of genocide. In the early 21st century, debates about who should be considered a cultural group and the utility of identifying cultural genocide without its criminalization have resulted in a lack of recognition and response to group destruction.

Article

The Ethics of Refugee Repatriation  

Mollie Gerver

“Refugee repatriation” refers to the voluntary or forcible return of refugees back to the countries or regions from which they fled. It is broadly accepted that a state acts wrongly in forcibly repatriating refugees back to countries that remain unsafe. This is true for refugees fleeing war, persecution, environmental disasters, extreme poverty, and a range of other life-threatening conditions. What is less clear is whether a state acts wrongly in deporting refugees whose lives would no longer be at risk in their home countries, and who can obtain their basic rights. For example, it is not clear if Turkey and Germany would be justified in deporting back Syrian refugees if conditions sufficiently improved in Syria. It is additionally not clear whether humanitarian organizations ought to help refugees repatriate before retuning is safe, as when the United Nations helped Somali refugees repatriate from Kenya. Finally, it is not clear whether refugees have a right to repatriate to their home countries, and whether they have a right to return to the specific homes they left behind. For example, there is widespread debate over whether Palestinian refugees have a right to return to the homes they left in 1948 and 1967. Addressing these and other debates is essential for establishing ethical immigration policies and establishing the rights of refugees, organizations, and states.

Article

The Global Economic and Political Causes of Human Trafficking  

Robert G. Blanton and Shannon Lindsey Blanton

While various forms of slavery and forced labor have existed throughout human history, trafficking in humans is a relatively new area of global concern, as specific laws date back only to 2000. As a legal concept, human trafficking is defined according to its requisite acts (recruitment, transport, harboring of victims), means (use of force, fraud, or coercion), and purpose (exploitation). As a basis for scholarly analysis and public policy, trafficking can be viewed in terms of multiple dimensions, as it constitutes a criminal activity, an egregious abuse of human rights, and a pervasive illicit market. Each of these frames suggests different scholarly approaches to examining trafficking, as well as different policy responses to combat it. For example, a criminal activity frame connotes a prosecutorial response toward traffickers by state agencies, while a human rights-based approach suggests increased attention and services to trafficking victims. There is a significant, though underdeveloped, body of scholarship on the causes of human trafficking. Broadly put, extant work focuses on economic, political, and demographic variables, each of which are part of the wider array of factors that can make trafficking more or less likely. Economic factors can be assessed at both micro and macro levels, ranging from the cost–benefit analyses of traffickers to macroeconomic factors such as poverty and globalization. Political correlates of trafficking include armed conflict, the presence of peacekeepers, and the strength and capacity of domestic political institutions. For their part, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can also play a significant role in shaping state responses to trafficking. As trafficking commonly involves the movement of people across borders, some of the same demographic factors that drive migration are also associated with trafficking flows. Taken as a whole, there are still many underexplored avenues for future research. While well over a thousand articles and books have been published on human trafficking since 2000, a majority of extant research is non-empirical in nature, including general overviews of trafficking or analyses of relevant laws. A key factor contributing to this relative dearth of empirical literature is the lack of comprehensive data that reflects the complex and nuanced nature of trafficking. Given the policy-relevant nature of human trafficking, as well as its implications for human rights, there remains a great need for additional evidence-based research in this area.

Article

Human Rights and Foreign Policy Analysis  

Shannon Lindsey Blanton and David L. Cingranelli

Foreign policy analysis emerged as a subfield ino the late 1950s and early 1960s, when scholars began to focus on substate factors and on the decision making process in evaluating foreign policy. It was during this time that the United States embarked on an effort to establish internationally recognized legal standards aimed at protecting individual human rights. The United Nations Charter and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) made human rights promotion the responsibility of all member nations. But it was only in the late 1970s that human rights became an important component of quantitative foreign policy analysis. Numerous developments, including the Helsinki Accords of 1975 and the International Human Rights Covenants in 1976, helped elevate human rights concerns in the U.S. foreign policy making process. The scholarly literature on the subject revolves around three key issues: whether governments should make the promotion of human rights a goal of their foreign policies; whether the increasing use of human rights language in foreign policy rhetoric has been translated by the United States and other countries into public policies that have been consistent with that rhetoric; and whether the foreign policies of OECD governments actually have led to improved human rights practices in less economically developed countries. While scholars have produced a considerable amount of work that examines the various influences on the policy making process—whether at the individual, institutional, or societal levels of analysis—relatively few of them have focused on human rights perse.

Article

Human Rights in Latin America  

James C. Franklin

The systematic study of human rights came into its own in the 1980s on the heels of expanded efforts by human rights organizations, the U.S. Congress, and the Carter administration to respond to human rights abuses. Latin America was a primary target of these efforts and many of the early studies on human rights focused on this region. Here, an early literature on human rights formed around the practical question of whether U.S. foreign aid allocations were steered away from human rights violators, as the law required. The literature brought some of the first attempts to measure human rights violations systematically, and several of these scholars moved on to broader questions about what caused human rights abuses and on global efforts to stop them. This included analyses of threat perceptions, human rights movements, foreign policy, naming and shaming, and transitional justice. Some of the key theories in this literature were developed, at least in part, by Latin Americanists and a lot of early empirical application of the theories focused on this region. Over time, this literature has become increasingly global, and thus earlier research on Latin America greatly influenced the broader literature on human rights. Alongside the evolution of the scholarly literature, the nature of human rights abuses in Latin America has also changed. After the widespread democratization of the region, abuses shifted from those primarily targeted at political opposition to actions targeted at socially marginalized individuals. This suggests an important new topic for researchers.

Article

The International Politics of Memory  

Lina Klymenko

Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .

Article

Migration Cooperation Between Africa and Europe: Understanding the Role of Incentives  

Abu Bakarr Bah and Nikolas Emmanuel

The issue of mass migration and north–south relations are increasingly becoming complicated in international relations. In the case of the interactions between Africa and Europe, irregular migration has become a major problem that is also breeding new forms of relations between the two continents. Migration into Europe through the western Mediterranean corridor from Morocco into Spain is a central part in the development of this new relationship. In these changing relations, it is important to ask how the security concerns of mass irregular migration, the emergence of diverse efforts to manage mass migration, and the forms of collaborations that have emerged between the European Union and Spain on the one hand and Morocco on the other hand have had an impact on overall south–north human flows. In particular, this line of inquiry focuses on the way incentives (aid-based, diplomatic, legitimation, etc.) are deployed by Spain and the European Union to ensure that Morocco prevents irregular migrants from crossing into Europe. Overall, it is important to address two kinds of questions relating to the security issues in mass migration and the forms and nature of international collaborations to manage mass migration from Africa to Europe. The intersection of security issues with pragmatic collaboration in international relations is critical to examine. In terms of security, mass irregular migration is tied to human, cultural, and state security concerns. In terms of the management of migration, the various forms of incentives, mainly development assistance and diplomatic support, are used to get Morocco to enforce stringent anti-immigration practices. However, the system of incentives created by actors in the north also creates a form of mutual dependency between Morocco and Europe in a way that enhances the agency of Morocco in its relationship with Spain and the European Union as a whole.

Article

The Politics of Digital (Human) Rights  

Ben Wagner, Andy Sanchez, Marie-Therese Sekwenz, Sofie Dideriksen, and Dave Murray-Rust

Basic human rights, like freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and privacy, are being radically transformed by new technologies. The manifestation of these rights in online spaces is known as “digital rights,” which can be impeded or empowered through the design, governance, and litigation of emerging technologies. Design defines how people encounter the digital world. Some design choices can exploit the right to privacy by commodifying attention through tactics that keep users addicted to maximize profitability; similar design mechanisms and vulnerabilities have facilitated the abuse of journalists and human rights advocates across the globe. But design can also empower human rights, providing novel tools of resistance, accountability, and accessibility, as well as the inclusion of previously underserved voices in the development process. The new capabilities offered by these technologies often transcend political boundaries, presenting complex challenges for meaningful governance and regulation. To address these challenges, collaborations like the Internet Governance Forum and NETmundial have brought together stakeholders from governments, nonprofits, industry, and academia, with efforts to address digital rights like universal internet access. Concurrently, economic forces and international trade negotiations can have substantial impacts on digital rights, with attempts to enforce steeper restrictions on intellectual property. Private actors have also fought to ensure their digital rights through litigation. In Europe, landmark cases have reshaped the international management of data and privacy. In India, indefinite shutdowns of the internet by the government were found to be unconstitutional, establishing online accessibility as a fundamental human right, intimately tied with the right to assembly. And in Africa, litigation has helped ensure freedom of speech and of the press, rights that may affect more individualsas digital technologies continue to shape media. These three spheres—design, diplomacy, and law—illustrate the complexity and ongoing debate to define, protect, and communicate digital rights.