Challenging Borders in Domestic and International Human Rights
Sunday, April 30 – Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Albion College, Albion, Michigan
Frequently, human rights are conceived in international terms with marginal attention directed to the ways that human rights issues manifest domestically. Yet human rights issues are all around us. We can find them in our neighborhoods, on our college campuses, and in our own closets. There are benefits to considering human rights as a framework for addressing domestic challenges like systemic racism, labor exploitation, immigration, and environmental degradation. Additionally, many human rights challenges are transnational in scope. Refugees cross international borders when their rights are violated domestically. The impacts of climate change disregard state sovereignty. In an increasingly interdependent world with a global economy, racial discrimination, sex and labor exploitation are global problems. The impacts of environmental degradation are disproportionately suffered by marginalized populations. Transnational problems require responses at both the domestic and international level.
Challenging borders between categories of rights
Human rights are equal, interdependent and require universal protection. The enjoyment of any single right or group of rights requires the enjoyment of other rights. Political and civil rights (e.g., the right to vote and freedom from discrimination) are necessary for formulating and fulfilling economic, social, and culture (ESC) needs (e.g. access to adequate housing, water, education and work). Similarly, violations of ESC rights limit our ability to exercise our political and civil rights. In short, human beings must possess the entire spectrum of human rights to lead a life of dignity.