The effectiveness of human rights in a multilevel legal order under threat?

Seminar & inaugural lecture of prof. dr. Jasper Krommendijk

Datum en tijd:
19 juni 2024 10:00 - 16:00 uur

Radboud University

Theaterzaal C and Aula

Human rights and the rule of law have been under threat in recent years. Academics have criticised human rights for their failure to address socio-economic inequality (e.g. Moyn) or proclaimed the ‘endtimes of human rights’ (Hopgood) and a ‘post-human rights era’ (Wuerth). Human rights courts and monitoring bodies are increasingly contested by politicians and segments of the population. This also holds true for established liberal democracies such as the Netherlands, which is usually championed as a human rights forerunner. Both the State Committee on the Parliamentary System (2018) and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission (1031/2021) held that the resilience of the Dutch rule of law system needs to be strengthened also considering the so-called Dutch Childcare Allowance scandal involving serious and systemic deficiencies in individual rights protection within all branches of government. The recent parliamentary elections and unfolding coalition-building attempts further show that the rule of law and human rights cannot be taken for granted.

Recent academic studies, nonetheless, revealed that we should not fall into pessimism. Empirical works show that human rights remain relevant and a powerful weapon (e.g. De Búrca, Engle Merry, Sikkink). The more pertinent puzzle to be solved is thus not the binary question whether human rights are effective or not, but rather how they can be effective. Especially De Búrca’s seminal work on human rights experimentalism and legal mobilization for human rights shows how the traditional top-down focus on (international) treaties, institutions and courts and monitoring bodies neglects bottom-up processes including activists, advocacy groups, affected communities and social movements. In order for (international) human rights to be effective, top-down and bottom-up approaches should converge and be combined.

During this seminar various practitioners, academics and judges will reflect on the ways in which (inter)national human rights norms and institutions have been effective and how they can continue to be.

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