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Call for Blog Posts: Ireland and Popular Critiques of Human Rights

[The European Convention on Human Rights] was drafted specifically with the appalling abuses of World War II in mind. Do you really think that putting crucifixes on the walls of state classrooms can in any way, shape or form be compared with what the Nazis and others did in World War II? No, I didn’t think so.

David Quinn, Irish Independent, Nov 6, 2009

It will become clear that the actions [of Portmarnock Golf Club] raise very fundamental questions to do with the constitutional rights of citizens to associate with one another, and the powers of the State to regulate, penalise, or discourage such association and cognate matters, including the right to associate for purposes disapproved of by the political establishment, or by the “great and the good” in Government, the media, the quangos and elsewhere.

Mr. Justice Adrian Hardiman in Equality Authority v Portmarnock Golf Club

[Amnesty International’s] Irish manifestation has apparently mission-crept into being an advocate for the entire PC agenda. Though hundreds are starving to death in Mugabe’s jails, the Congo is darkness personified, Iran is an Islamic tyranny, and unspeakable things are happening in just about every country ending in “-istan”, Amnesty Ireland is campaigning for marriage rights for homosexuals.

Kevin Myers, Irish Independent, August 12, 2009

Rights are inalienable, they are not granted at the whim of the state – anything gifted to us by the Dáil, the EU parliament or the courts can just as easily be taken away. If abortion is a right then it must be fought for in open debate, not introduced by the back door through legalistic complaining. Even if the court decides in favour of a change to Irish law it will do no one any favours. State bodies already have too much to say about what goes on in our bodies and inviting the courts to decide what is right and wrong surrenders individual sovereignty.

Jason Walsh, forth.ie, 10 December, 2009

As regular readers will know, every so often we run blog carnivals where we invite academics and researchers to write posts (about 500-1000 words) on a particular theme. (See examples here and here). I’m hoping to curate one on March 17th which will address the topic of Ireland’s human rights culture, or lack thereof. In particular I want us to think about the apparent  popular aversion to institutionalised human rights in Ireland, and to engage with those arguments…creatively (and perhaps not defensively). I am hoping that we will get to think critically about Ireland’s human rights culture, examine its flaws and imagine alternative possibilities. This isn’t a new debate – the outlines are well laid out by scholars such as Zizek, Douzinas, Nedelsky and Brown– but maybe it is one that Irish human rights scholars need to have again.

I’m looking for participants in a blog carnival. So if you would like to join in, please email maireadenright@gmail.com and let me know, with a line or two on the idea you would like to blog about. Some topics I would like to see addressed (this is by no means an exhaustive list) are:

  • Judicial activism and human rights.
  • The juridification of human rights.
  • International and European human rights institutions and Irish sovereignty.
  • The incompatibility of human rights discourse with a particularly Irish cultural or religious outlook.
  • The usefulness of human rights institutions.
  • The subject of human rights discourse and the rights claims of the marginalised.
  • The spread of human rights beyond their ‘original’ territory – human rights ‘mission creep’.

What we’re looking for really are coherent, readable punchy posts – from scholars of all disciplines – about ideas which, though they might be quite familiar to you, don’t get much of an airing in the media. It is very important that the posts address head-on standard critiques of human rights law and institutions in a reasoned and balanced way. Posts applying theory to concrete problems are best, but we’re not averse to high falutin’ theory either. Alternative/radical/rejuvenated visions of human rights are also of interest.

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