Are human rights gaining or losing ground? This question has become relevant after two decades of unprecedented progress in developing human rights standards and institutions. The political climate during the Cold War created many obstacles, but the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and its aftermath during the following decade created a sense of promise and progress among human rights scholars and actors.
Yet, today, actions, statements and initiatives questioning the legitimacy and validity of human rights, or even threatening their very existence, have become a regular part of current political realities, even in states traditionally dedicated to the rule of law. This would have been inconceivable ten or twenty years ago. At the political level human rights are gaining as well as losing ground.
The question of the adequacy, legitimacy and scope of human rights is still a live one. And weaknesses in supra-national human rights protection systems have emerged over the last twenty years. It is now clear that human rights mechanisms are not well adapted to the handling of the ever-increasing number of complaints or to the effective implementation of human rights.
This thought-provoking collection of essays by leading scholars and practitioners in the field of human rights explores the ways in which human rights are currently being challenged and weakened, but also strengthened in important and groundbreaking ways in different areas and settings. They explore the many current debates which centre on human rights concerns: debates about secularism and religious norms, about minimum social standards and social security, about the future regulation of citizenship, about prison reform and the use of less inhumane methods of detention; as well as the reform of the UN system and the challenges facing the now overburdened European Court of Human Rights.
Introduction; Human Rights in Turmoil: Facing Threats, Consolidating Achievements
Stéphanie Lagoutte, Hans-Otto Sano and Peter Scharff Smith;
1. The UN Reform Process in an Implementation Perspective
2. The Future of the European Human Rights Control System: Fighting with Its Back to the Wall
3. Human Rights Reinforcement and Globalisation: Reflections about Global Governance
4. The Uneasy Balance between Individual Rights and the Necessity of Communities
5. Human Rights on the Battlefield
6. Terrorism and Human Rights
Peter Vedel Kessing;
7. Humanitarian Intervention and State Sovereignty: A Social Constructivist Analysis
8. Manoeuvring in the Turbulent Sea of Human Rights and Religion: Religious Communities Approaching Human Rights
Eva Maria Lassen;
9. Freedom from Want: Globalisation and Social Security
10. Prisons and Human Rights: The Case of Solitary Confinement in Denmark and the US from the 1820s until Today
Peter Scharff Smith;
11. The Right to a Nationality and the European Convention on Human Rights
12. Reflections of a Former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights
About the Contributors;