Rhoda E Howard-Hassmann
Wilfrid Laurier University
Contesting Human Rights is the third volume in a series edited by Alison Brysk & Michael Stohl. The others are Expanding Human Rights (2017) and Contracting Human Rights (2018). This volume highlights how, in an age of populism, nationalism, anti-globalization and securitization, human rights are in decline. As Clair Apodaca shows, the US under Donald Trump rejects human rights in foreign and aid policies, in favor of America’s short-term interests. Patrice C McMahon analyses the backlash against human rights in Central and Eastern Europe, especially the increasing skepticism towards human rights NGOs. Courtney Hillebrecht discusses the shrinking space for human rights defenders in regional courts. Nevertheless, the backlash is countered by some positive developments. Philip M Ayoub demonstrates that Eastern European LGBTQ activists are vernacularizing their human rights claims and integrating them with traditional beliefs. Early childhood marriage is emerging as a human rights issue, argue Amanda Murdie, Baekkwan Park, Jacqueline Hart & Margo Mullinax. And international organizations, says George Andreopoulos, are beginning to accept more human rights obligations. These are all new ‘pathways’ to human rights. The human rights regime is also developing. Pilar Elizalde discusses the evolving entrenchment of the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism in the United Nations, while Wayne Sandholtz & Adam Feldman show how regional courts in Latin America, Africa and Europe refer to each other’s decisions, devising a human rights legal network. More countries are constitutionalizing human rights, according to Stephen Meili, while a new movement to establish ‘human rights cities’ is based partly on ‘bottom-up globalization’, as Michael Goodhart shows. All the chapters are grounded in sophisticated references to international relations theory and theories of social movements.