Contesting Human Rights: The Legal, The Political, and the Structural

Contesting Human Rights: The Legal, The Political, and the Structural

by Ioana Cerasella Chis

The Effectiveness of Human Rights Norms in Changing State Behaviour

With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, every person has, as stipulated in the document, a set of universal, inalienable rights. Since then, the human rights discourse (and, since 1994, ‘human security’), together with the concept of ‘democracy’ have been invoked much more widely by various actors, becoming what Laclau calls ‘empty signifiers’ (1995:43). For instance, the median use of the term ‘human rights’ by six of the world’s leading media outlets ‘rose 95% from 1986 to 2000’ (Hafner-Burton and Ron 2007:379). Does it mean that human rights have been increasingly respected, or on the contrary, violated more?

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The State as a Key Driver of Economic Globalization

The State as a Key Driver of Economic Globalization

by Esther Tonnaer

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Introduction

The period of economic globalization after the Second World War has been characterized by an increase in transnational trade, foreign direct investment (FDI)[1] and a growth in transnational corporations’ (TNCs)[2] activity[3]. The globalization process of the economy has been intensified in terms of production and exchange due to technological changes, liberalization and deregulation allowing new forms of economic organization influencing the behavior of TNCs as a driving force of economic globalization[4]. According to the hyper-globalization thesis, markets as a result have become fully integrated restricting national economic policy-making to “market-friendly policies” as the need to provide incentives to “footloose” TNCs to invest has caused a significant reduction in the state’s domestic capabilities[5]. Despite these arguments, there appears no unambiguous evidence that economic globalization as the transnationalisation of production has caused the inevitable demise of the state in terms of capacity and autonomy[6]. Skeptics of the hyper-globalization thesis emphasize that TNCs and their economic activity despite the technological improvements in communication and transportation remain concentrated in their home countries making them subjected to national control implying economic policy instruments stay effective[7]. Furthermore, the volume of international trade during this period is not unprecedented when compared to the level of international economic integration, primarily between industrializing Western states and their colonies, during the late 19th until early 20th century[8].

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Liberal Peace and Peace-Building: Another Critique

Liberal Peace and Peace-Building: Another Critique

by Zenonas Tziarras

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INTRODUCTION

Democratic Liberalism is based on the notion that liberal democracies are more peaceful and law-abiding in relation to other political systems. The liberal peace theory – or Liberal Democratic theory or Democratic peace – and therefore liberal peace-building, have become more prominent after the end of the Cold War because of the predominance of the western ideology. How valid are they though? The questions that this theory raises are not only related to how one defines democracy or peace but also to whether the model of liberal democracy is suitable for every society or every post-conflict state. Moreover, given the role liberal democracy plays in state/peace-building in fragile countries, it raises questions regarding the moral dilemmas of imposing liberal democracy as a form of neo-imperialism rather than development. In other words, even though the build-up of a democracy could – at least to some extent – benefit the recipient country, is it really something that is right to do considering that in the long term this model of development may institutionalize western interests or local problems? Continue reading