On the Concept of the ‘Human Rights Backlash’

JVF Conference Papers

Usage of the terms ‘backlash’ and the ‘human rights backlash’ has become common in contemporary academic and non-academic circles.

In international law and international relations scholarship, the word ‘backlash’ has been used to refer to, among other things, the denunciation of human rights treaties, the de facto closing-down of human rights courts, the ‘band of outlaw’ states ‘on the wrong side of history’, shrinking space for civil society, and the ‘citizen initiative for a just world economy’. Thus, the term ‘backlash’ has been used in reference to very different concepts - from social movements to the behavior of states - and with both positive and negative connotations.

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