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Picture of Human Rights and Diverse Societies

Human Rights and Diverse Societies

Challenges and Possibilities

Editor(s): François Crépeau

Book Description

Over sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it has been widely observed that human rights resonate differently in various settings. This book addresses the timely and important question of how to understand human rights in a world of increasing diversity. The effects of globalization and the increasing mobility of persons and peoples have further deepened and multiplied the sites of interaction between different cultures, religions and ethnicities. These changes have been a source of enrichment, as multiculturalism, interculturalism and diversity permeate our daily lives. Yet, they have also revealed important societal cleavages, different conceptualizations of human rights, and divergent values and beliefs about moral, ethical, cultural and religious issues. In societies characterized by diverse social, ethnic, religious and cultural communities, it becomes critical to examine how to reconcile the tensions between respect for group-based identities and differences, the robust protections of individual rights and freedoms, and the maintenance of community solidarity and social cohesion. It is these tensions, mediated through debates about the interaction between human rights and diversity, that this book addresses.

Eschewing any simple reconciliation of human rights and universalism, this book aspires to identify alternative frameworks that can facilitate the conceptualization of, and help find solutions to, the complex global human rights issues in diverse societies. In engaging with both the theoretical perspectives that question the 'universality' of human rights as well as assessing the practicality of diverse applications of human rights, this collection of essays explores how human rights can be employed to empower historically excluded and marginalized groups. Taking diversity into account in thinking about the universal aspirations of human rights protection requires us to reframe the question. Rather than asking whether human rights are universal, we need to ask how the universal principles underlying human rights are practically and tangibly realized in diverse contexts and communities. Through critical reflection and a reexamination of the concepts, categories, institutions and frontiers of human rights, this book contributes to an ongoing dialogue about human rights discourse and theory. Yet beyond its contribution to scholarly debates, it is our hope that this book will contribute to the development of concrete, tangible and institutional strategies for advancing the protection of human rights in diverse societies.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5137-4
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5137-X
Date of Publication: 01/11/2013
Pages / Size: 225 / A5
Price: £44.99


François Crépeau is the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Professor in Public International Law at McGill University, and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Colleen Sheppard is a Professor at the Faculty of Law, McGill University, and Director of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.