CFP: "Human Rights Thought and Practice in the Contemporary World"

The Political Thought Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom will hold its annual conference on Saturday 24th November 2012 at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The conference will be sponsored by the LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights.

The theme for this year shall be as follows: HUMAN RIGHTS THOUGHT AND PRACTICE IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD

The experiences of the Second World War and the Holocaust led to the unanimous adoption of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR) by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Human rights principles had long formed part of modern constitutions all over the world, but the UDHR was the first international instrument to make a wide range of civil and political rights, as well as a number of social, economic and cultural rights part and parcel of the contemporary notion of democracy.

The UDHR was followed by a considerable number of human rights instruments adopted by various UN bodies and regional organisations. Respect for human rights is one important item on the international agenda. What has remained problematic is what can and should be done at international or regional level if governments are unwilling to protect the civil and political rights of their peoples or they do not have the resources to provide for all their citizens a decent level of welfare. International diplomacy is mostly ineffective, international aid is difficult to carry out even when the host country wants it, and humanitarian intervention is very controversial, especially when it involves military action.

The conference will discuss issues such as (the following list not being exhaustive):

– How many aspects does the concept of ‘human rights’ have? And what is the order of significance among these aspects? Should civil and political rights be given priority over social, economic and cultural rights, for example?

– What does it mean to make this assertion of rights, and what legal, political and social mechanisms have to be built and activated to make these rights a living reality for human beings, especially vulnerable groups, including children, racial and religious minorities, disabled people and long-term unemployed?

– What obligations are placed on governments and their populations by the need to create rights-realizing procedures? What, if anything, should the international community or regional bodies do in response to systematic violations of rights in particular countries?

– Is there a right to work, and if so, is this the same as the right to a job one wants to do and for wages commensurate with one’s qualifications and experience?

– How do you realize the right to high-quality education up to university level and high-quality healthcare from the cradle to the grave at a time when received economic wisdom enjoins governments to make spending cuts to reduce national debt?

– Is there a sense in which the rich have an obligation to support the poor?

We invite proposals of papers for presentation at the conference. Please send your proposals to both Dr. Evangelia Sembou ( and Dr. Zenon Stavrinides (e-mail:, by 15 September 2012. Proposals should include an abstract of up to 500 words, name and institutional affiliation, as well as a short biographical note.

Dr. Evangelia Sembou

Convenor, Political Thought Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom

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