Do we need human rights law?

Grewal, Kiran K. 2018. Do we need human rights law?. The Conversation. [Other]

[img] Text
do-we-need-human-rights-law-92242 - Published Version

Download (115kB)

Abstract or Description

In a world of unprecedented refugee flows, seemingly endless wars and rising levels of xenophobia and inequality, many have been questioning the point of human rights. What do they mean to the huge numbers of asylum seekers detained across the globe? To the Rohinyga, fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar? To the children dying in bombings across Syria and Yemen?

For many the optimism of the post-WWII era when the international human rights system was set up is dead. Some critics go further, arguing that not only have human rights not delivered greater justice, they have in fact been part of the problem. Their individualistic focus has taken attention away from structural issues like global economic inequality. Their claims to universalism have failed to properly address the legacies of Western imperialism. And their legalistic form has done little to empower the world’s most marginal, simply creating a new industry of “international experts”. As a result, more and more radical scholars and activists in the West are rejecting human rights in search of a new, more revolutionary social justice project.

Without disagreeing with these critiques, I would like to tell another story of human rights. It is the story of Amali, who lives in a small village in eastern Sri Lanka.

Item Type:


Departments, Centres and Research Units:



4 April 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Apr 2018 12:57

Last Modified:

04 Dec 2020 01:40


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)