Oct 18, 2023
12:00pm - 1:30pm    |    Wilf Hall, 5th Floor Seminar Room

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) is delighted to host this session in collaboration with our Visiting Scholar, Laurel Fletcher .

Divided by a Common Language: The Crisis within the Human Rights Movement
There is a vibrant debate about the crises in the human rights field. Brought on by macro-level external challenges as varied as multipolarity, popular nationalism, climate change, new technologies, and cooption by the right, scholars and practitioners are taking stock, diagnosing system weaknesses and strengths, and proposing new strategies. Lesser attention is being paid to the internal crisis: a crisis over the legitimacy of the concentration of power in traditional international NGOs in the Global North like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The ability of the movement to address the external crises depends on our ability to address the internal crisis. This chapter theorizes the praxis of mainstream groups using the concept of international human rights imaginary to give a holistic account of the internal schism. The international imaginary helps us to see that what drives a wedge between mainstream organizations and those in the South is broader than disagreements about priorities and strategy: at its core it is a struggle over the identity and ownership of the movement. Because mainstream groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch will continue to exert a great influence on global human rights for the foreseeable future, human rights supporters need to understand how the ideas that undergird their theories of change developed and how they reproduce the unequal playing field on which they cooperate and compete with South-based groups.

Laurel Fletcher
Laurel E. Fletcher, Chancellor’s Clinical Professor of Law at Berkeley Law, UC Berkeley, is co-director of the school’s International Human Rights Law Clinic and co-director of the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law. She partners with frontline human rights activists and organizations to advance human rights through international litigation, empirical studies, and policy work. Her areas of focus include accountability for international crimes and transitional justice, counterterrorism and human rights, and protection of human rights defenders. During her residency at the Center, Fletcher is working on a book project which develops the concept of the international human rights imaginary to theorize human rights practice. She argues for a solidarity-based approach to human rights advocacy to address the North-South hierarchy embedded in the international human rights movement.

Workshop Information:
October 18th, 2023
12pm – 1:30pm ET
Wilf Hall, 5th Floor Conference Room
If you are interested in attending in-person, please fill out this RSVP form.

If you are interested in attending remotely, please register using this link:
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For any inquiries, please contact chrgj@nyu.edu. Thank you!


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