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Jose Alvarez




SEMINAR MEMBERS RESPOND

dawson.jpgAshley Dawson
Bifurcated State

March 16, 2009

 

In his trenchant posting on human rights, Jose Alvarez discusses the signal failure of the human rights framework to live up to its billing as a universal system, as hegemonic Western powers have moved to retain their sovereignty while weaker nations have been forced to put on a “golden straitjacket.”  I found this emphasis on the way in which the lingo of human rights obscures and may even help perpetuate the acronym-choked neo-liberal world order (IMF, WB, WTO) particularly compelling.  According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, for example, the number of hungry people in poor countries has increased from 109 million to 963 million since 2004.  UNICEF estimates that each day 300 million children go to bed hungry.  Instead of simply seeing this as a case of the failure to implement human rights fully, perhaps we need to think more carefully and critically about the Janus-faced character of human rights that Alvarez describes.


 


SEMINAR MEMBERS RESPOND

busch.jpgMichael Busch
On Alvarez and Rights

March 11, 2009

 

While Jose Alvarez clearly outlines competing perspectives on the "power" behind international human rights, he does so largely by focusing on the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  He usefully points out that the right to property, especially in defense of foreign investments, is likely the right  "most credibly enforced internationally." 

 


SEMINAR MEMBERS RESPOND

harris.jpgTina Harris
Declarations

March 12, 2009


It’s strange; my eyes almost welled up while reading both Declarations.  I suppose my emotions stemmed from two immediate, basic thoughts: 1) what wonderful ideas. 2) none of this completely upholds anywhere.

 


SEMINAR MEMBERS RESPOND

brenkman.jpgJohn Brenkman
Human Rights and Bodies Politic

March 16, 2009

 

“It is by becoming a citizen of a good state that the individual first comes into his right.” There is much to debate in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, but this statement from the addendum to §153 makes a salient point that helps illuminate something of the complexity, ambiguity, and paradox of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The very capacity of human beings to claim and secure rights originates historically in the experience of founding a body politic. Rights—as opposed to the obligations and duties associated with ethical and moral precepts—are politically secured by the rule of law. Civic right founds the very experience and idea of right.


 


SEMINAR MEMBERS RESPOND

ilgin.jpgIlgin Yorukoglu
The Collective Responsibility and the Right to Detroy One's Property

March 17, 2009

 

Jose Alvarez writes, “…the West has given very real effect to the Universal Declaration’s right to property; of all the rights in the Universal Declaration, that right is probably the one that is most credibly enforced internationally, particularly in defense of the rights of foreign investor.” He appropriately talks about how “that Straightjacket,” which is enforced by everything from IMF conditionality to threats by the U.S. Congress to deny aid, includes adhering to human rights standards (and especially the right to property) as the new de facto “standard of civilization.”


 
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