The Future of Human Rights in an Era of Narrow Nationalism: The Margin for Cross Border Concern and Action

Plenary Sessions

We live in an era that The Economist has called the new nationalism. These political views look very similar to the old nationalisms of circa 1914. Given the power of these nationalisms that are often called populist or nativist or parochial, the question arises as to the future of universal human rights (defined broadly to include the international law of armed conflict). Are international norms and institutions that were originally designed to advance human dignity on a transnational scale destined to fade-if not disappear — because of this renewed emphasis on national greatness, national power, and national welfare? Conversely, will cosmopolitan norms, organizations, and values prove more durable than the pessimists predict? Like Magna Carta of 1215, will the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and its normative progeny) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions (and their additional Protocols) suffer ups and downs in salience but always be rediscovered at some point? By starting with a continued emphasis on preventing and responding to atrocity crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and major war crimes, we wind up having to deal with many other internationally recognized human rights - both civil-political and socio-economic.