Do you think human rights have a bright future?

Along the way, we’ve seen that human rights are represented as “universal” in the important declarations, conventions, and treaties that give them legal substance. We’ve noted important disagreements over the relative importance of civil/political rights, on the one hand, and social/economic rights, on the other.

Our exploration of enforcement mechanisms has highlighted the importance of international norms and the actions of non-governmental organizations given the general absence of much of a supra-national entity with enough teeth to truly hold states accountable for human rights violations. Finally, we’ve also looked at the limited reach of human rights norms, particularly in cases where perpetrators are non-state actors or victims are less than sympathetic characters.

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For this short-paper assignment, I’m going to ask you to reflect upon what you’ve learned so far and consider what it means for the future of human rights.

Please respond to the following prompt:

Standing as you are at this particular moment in history, and given what you’ve learned about human rights so far this semester, what is your prognosis? Do you think human rights have a bright future? Will they continue to be understood as “universal,” applying to all human beings in all circumstances? Will they continue to be defined as broadly as they have been over recent decades? Or will their definition and application be more limited in the years to come? Or, by chance, do you believe they’ll be expanded and/or redefined to come to terms with rights that were unacknowledged or unanticipated by political leaders of the past? And, perhaps most importantly, do you envision future generations coming up with tools to enforce human rights more effectively?

Your paper can be relatively short (approximately 4–5 pages).

I expect you to engage directly with the readings we’ve grappled with in this course. To quantify this, I’ll ask that you refer to and cite at least 3 of the readings we’ve dealt with in the course so far. Think of this as evidence you’re using to support your argument about the future of human rights. (I wouldn’t think there’s much need for you to draw upon outside sources; the reading materials I’ve assigned should provide more than enough information for the purposes of this paper).

Please cite sources appropriately using the ASA citation format

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