In this book, the authors ponder the historical value of human rights and how they have helped shape litigation, resources, narratives and strategies to defend the most vulnerable communities in the Global South. | Dejusticia
Are Human Rights Still Effective?
In 2018, we brought together activists from 11 Global South countries to reflect on the importance of human rights in contexts where their effectiveness has been questioned. Their conclusions were compiled in the book Reimagining the Future of Human Rights.
Since 2013, Dejusticia has brought together young activists of the Global South to discuss their work, activism and research projects, as well as the challenges they face in their home countries. People from different Global South countries have attended the Global Action-Research Workshop for Young Human Rights Defenders for years. However, after each meeting, a veil of doubt on the participants’ minds was apparent: Have Human Rights become obsolete? Or worse, have they broken their promise to ensure a decent standard of living for the most vulnerable? Are Human Rights still effective?
Aware of these concerns, in 2018, we brought together participants from past editions to carry out the sixth Global Workshop. Motivated by the reflections of Harvard professor Kathryn Sikkink —whose book Reasons for Hope can be downloaded on our website— activisits from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, India, Lebanon, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen thought about how to make Human Rights defenders reinvent themselves and become more effective in achieving their goals.
After this meeting, the participants returned to their home countries. They wrote their thoughts on strengthening social guarantees so that the lives and health of democracies threatened by populist politicians and speeches contrary to Human Rights prevail. Eventually, they wrote the book Reimagining the Future of Human Rights with their conclusions.
In this book, the authors ponder the historical value of Human Rights and how they have helped shape litigation, resources, narratives and strategies to defend the most vulnerable communities in the Global South. In each chapter, we show how the rights of various groups and individuals are protected. After reading each story, we discover that Human Rights are more necessary than ever.
In the 13 chapters that make up this small anthology, we travel to Brasilia to perceive the uncertainty caused by the election of Jair Bolsonaro as President of Brazil. We explore the work of The Legal Agenda in Lebanon as a model of strategic litigation in the world and the importance of judicial independence. This analysis is intertwined —as a matter of life and death— with the chapter on Venezuela, which shows a judicial power that is increasingly suffocated by dictatorship. And, even, we understand the problems of granting rights to nature based on a sacred and vertical ethos in a country like India, where the caste system oppresses a large part of society.
This is just an example of what you may find in our book. We hope that these insightful reflections will prepare the readers to confront the increasingly real challenges and threats to Human Rights and their defenders. We are confident that, through these stories, more Global South activists will find inspiration to continue their struggles and understand that these, although local in nature, have repercussions worldwide.