The Nordic Journal of Human Rights has published the first issue of Volume 38. The issue is of a general nature, with articles ranging from a critique of Samuel Moyn’s work, to Norwegian readmission agreements and advisory proceedings at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The following articles can be found in the new issue.
Human Rights as a ‘Substitute Utopia’? Questionable Assumptions in Samuel Moyn’s Work by Heiner Bielefeldt
Samuel Moyn surprises, provokes and polarises. In his widely read monographs on historical facets of human rights, he deconstructs heroic narratives and challenges traditional assumptions on the origins of human rights. Human rights need critical accompaniment. Without systematic scrutiny, human rights practice can slip into political arrogance and moralistic complacency. Moreover, there is the ever-lurking danger that human rights organisations become self-serving rather than working on the issues they are supposed to foster. The concept of human rights itself can be turned into a modern humanitarian quasi-religion, whose tenets might claim absolute superiority over all other forms of ethos. In short: there are many reasons why a thorough critique of human rights – ‘their claims, their norms and their practices –’ is useful and indeed imperative.
Human Rights References in Norway’s Readmission Agreements: (How) Do They Protect? by Maja Janmyr and Özlem Gürakar Skribeland
Norway is a country with one of the highest numbers of readmission agreements in Europe, concluded with a view to ‘combat’ irregular migration and to facilitate return procedures. Despite the widespread perception that such agreements in a sense are human rights ‘neutral’, this article takes as starting point that the return of irregular migrants is one of the most vexed aspects of migration management, raising not only questions of cooperation between states, but also issues of the protection, safety and dignity of migrants. This article is the first to explore the extent to which Norway’s more than 30 readmission agreements take an international human rights law approach. It analyses their scope of application; their specific and general human rights commitments; and issues linked to the return of specific groups of persons. It finds that there are considerable differences between Norway’s readmission agreements when it comes to human rights protection, and that even seemingly subtle differences can have important human rights implications. It argues for an overall stronger human rights focus in the drafting and implementation of readmission agreements, and suggests ways in which future agreements be designed with a view to better achieving human rights in practice.
The Self-Exempting Activist: Sweden and the International Human Rights Regime by Johan Karlsson Schaffer
This article seeks to account for Sweden’s evolving commitment to the international human rights (HR) regime since its inception in the late 1940s. Where previous research has explained Nordic HR exceptionalism in terms of values of solidarity and democracy in domestic society, this article instead develops a rationalist framework focusing on how governments assess the sovereignty costs states incur through their international HR commitments – costs which may increase as the international regime accretes authority and domestic groups gain opportunities for mobilising for compliance. Empirically, the article adopts a longitudinal approach to determine how Swedish governments have committed to international human rights norms in three historical episodes: the emergence of the European Convention on Human Rights; the era of international activism from the 1960s, and the domestication of international human rights law since the 1980s.
The Advisory Proceedings of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights by Lilian Chenwi
The advisory jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) is of significance to strengthening the protection of human rights in Africa. This article considers the Court’s advisory proceedings thus far in establishing whether it has adopted a broad and flexible or narrow and restrictive approach in the exercise of its advisory jurisdiction and interpretations of related standing rules and the implications of its approach.
Fostering the Rule of Law in the Americas: Is There any Room for Judicial Dialogue between the IACtHR and the National Courts? by Maria-Louiza Deftou
Through its nuanced case law, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has marked significant progress in the establishment of the rule of law and the overall human rights situation in the Latin-American region with pronouncements that have remarkable normative influence to the domestic courts or other regional and global human rights fora. This notwithstanding, in its attempt to entrench the rule of law and encourage political stability among State parties, the IACtHR is particularly cautious in leaving wide margin of appreciation to the States. This tendency of the Court is also evinced by the adoption of the conventionality control concept. Pursuant to this scheme, state courts must review the compatibility of national legislation not only with national Constitutions but also with its respected interpretation by the IACtHR. While mapping the domestic constitutional reactions to the doctrinal constructions of the Court, this paper explores whether the looming difficulty of the latter to truly embrace its subsidiary character impedes the reconceptualisation of its dialogue with national courts and therefore, the solid consolidation of its jurisdiction.
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