Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Berlin techno goes intangible cultural heritage: Modern music, the cultural appropriation debate, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

    This paper argues that cultural appropriation can – but does not always – constitute a human rights incompatibility precluding a classification as intangible cultural heritage (ICH) pursuant to Art. 2(1) Sentence 3 of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (CSICH). To set up this argument, the paper first addresses whether and in how far the human rights compatibility test is exercised in the realm of the CSICH. Subsequently, it seeks to analyse whether cultural appropriation violates that test. To this end, the paper first develops an understanding of cultural appropriation informed by insights ranging from philosophy to anthropology. It then raises the question in how far cultural appropriation and protection therefrom is covered by the IHRL canon, most importantly the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Using Berlin Techno as an example, the aim of this contribution is to reveal the limits of cultural appropriation in the legal field and to initiate a legally sound discussion on the relationship between culture, appropriation, and human rights that has thus far been absent.

  • Recent publications June 2024
  • Cross-border surrogacy and the European Convention on Human Rights: The Strasbourg Court caught between “fait accompli”, “ordre public”, and the best interest of the child

    Surrogacy is a form of family creation that raises many medical, ethical, and legal questions. This article examines how the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) deals with the issue of cross-border surrogacy and its legal consequences in its recent case law. It will demonstrated that the Strasbourg Court has developed a nuanced case law that leaves it in the first place to the national authorities to deal with the complex issue of surrogacy, whereby it is nevertheless clear that further to the Strasbourg case law even if legislators rule out the possibility of surrogacy on their territory, they will have to find solutions to “‘regularise”’ the de facto situation of the child, taking into account its best interests.

  • Facial recognition and the end of human rights as we know them?
  • The right to science or to Wissenschaft? Five lessons from the travaux préparatoires

    This article identifies novel insights from a detailed analysis of the travaux préparatoires of the right to science provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It makes five main contributions. First, it demonstrates the bidirectional influence between the UDHR and the earlier American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in the formulation of the right to science, as opposed to unidirectional borrowing. Second, it traces the origins of Article 15 ICESCR to the UNESCO Constitution and argues that Article 15, specifically subclauses 2–4, were intended as implementation measures, though Article 15(3) was elevated into a separate and additional obligation due to its perceived importance for scientific and creative progress. Third, it clarifies an apparent conflict between drafting history and subsequent instruments concerning scientific purpose by distinguishing the development and use of science. Fourth, it suggests facilitating the search for truth as an unarticulated object and purpose of these provisions. Finally, it shows that many drafters acknowledged a broad scope of ‘science’ beyond the natural sciences. Overall, this article elucidates overlooked aspects of the travaux to inform contemporary debates on this important yet obscure right.

  • Principle and power: The struggle to protect human rights

    Professor Theo van Boven sent this piece to the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights as part of his reflections on the 75 years anniversary of the UDHR. Professor van Boven is the former Director of the UN Human Rights Secretariat between 1977 and 1982, about which the film “The Subversives” was made in 2019. He was a Dutch representative on the UN Commission on Human Rights, an expert member of the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, an expert Member on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Special Rapporteur against Torture, Consultant at the World Council of Churches and Professor of Human Rights at Maastricht University from 1982 to 1999.

  • Contested visions of sustainable development in conflicts over renewable energy, land, and human rights: A case study of Unión Hidalgo, Mexico

    The so-called ‘green shift’ poses dilemmas in developing sustainable sources of energy while ensuring the respect and protection of the rights of affected communities. The article seeks to advance understanding of how prevailing conceptualisations of Sustainable Development – as formulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – are constructed and adopted at different scales and are implicated in and shape struggles over land and environmental conflicts. The exceptional geographical conditions for wind energy production in the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca have led to significant investments in wind energy projects. In Unión Hidalgo, two projects are already in operation, the focus here. A content analysis was carried out of 36 documents published by three key actors involved (local defenders, companies, and the government at the state and federal levels). The results are then triangulated with insights from semi-structured interviews with local environmental defenders. The article shows how rights-based dimensions are perceived in a highly variable way and power relations unfold in discursive practices. That the project was eventually stopped, does, however, suggest the polyvalence of human rights, but that they are highly contingent – in this case, critically, part of social mobilisation, domestic litigation, and extra-territorial obligations of a company headquartered in France, all of which appear to rebalance power asymmetries uncovered in the analysis here.

  • Reinterpreting human rights in the climate crisis: Moving beyond economic growth and (un)sustainable development to a future with degrowth

    The UN General Assembly has recently recognised that unsustainable development and climate change ‘constitute some of the most pressing and serious threats to the ability of present and future generations to effectively enjoy all human rights’. International human rights law is evolving to obligate States to tackle climate change, including through mitigation measures. At the same time, economic growth and sustainable development are often upheld to underpin the realisation of human rights. However, economic growth is a significant contributor to climate change, which, in turn, harms human rights. This article argues that these contradictions require a recalibrated interpretation of economic growth under international human rights law, in particular in terms of; (i) the nature of the relationship between human rights and sustained economic growth in Global North States, which disproportionately contribute to climate change, and consequentially (ii) the degree of alignment of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development with international human rights law. Different visions are abounding for ecologically sustainable social and economic life. This includes proposals for degrowth which centre on a planned reduction in consumption and use of resources, especially in the Global North. This article uses degrowth as a case study to argue that such proposals provide crucial insights to support the interpretation of, and pathways for, the realisation of human rights within planetary boundaries, and to shape a rights-based, and sustainable post-2030 development landscape.

  • Mapping the frontiers of sustainable development and human rights as a field of enquiry

    The relationship between human rights, development, and sustainable development is not a straightforward one, yet these concepts can be traced to the notion of protecting and advancing human dignity. The rights-based dimensions of sustainable development can be studied in various ways, and this special issue seeks to delve into and challenge the complex nexus of human rights and sustainable development from theoretical and practical perspectives. The contributions in this special issue show that there currently are two main trends in thinking about the relationship between human rights and sustainable development. The first is a ‘harmonious’ understanding of human rights and sustainable development that seeks to find the interlinkages and commonalities which strengthen both. The second is a ‘creative tension’ understanding, that highlights how the concepts challenge each other's underlying assumptions. In addition to the ‘harmonious interpretation’-‘creative tension’ axis, studies in this field can also be organised along a ‘practice vs theory’ axis. Taken together, these axes provide a field of enquiry into human rights and sustainable development in both the so-called ‘developed’ and ‘developing world’ while setting the scene for further research into this rapidly developing field. 1

  • Synergies or silos? Exploring human rights considerations in sustainability reporting practices in the Nordics

    Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) have become a valuable instrument for states to share their experiences in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda. VNRs provide useful information on implementation gaps and opportunities, as well as a country's understandings of sustainability over time. Considering the strong overlap between the 2030 Sustainability Agenda and human rights, states should consider the later in their elaboration of VNRs. This article proposes a comparative study of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden's VNRs to clarify whether and how human rights considerations are integrated into their SDG implementation reporting. The research highlights the existence of silos between some SDGs and internationally recognised human rights, but also points to some strongly consolidated synergies. It also addresses conceptual and policy mismatches, and the key role that civil society and the private sector play bridging human rights and sustainability.

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