CfA: Human Rights: Grounds, Substance, Protection ‒ MANCEPT Workshops, Sept 9-11, 2020

September 9, 2020 - September 11, 2020
MANCEPT, University of Manchester

United Kingdom

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Call For Abstracts 

Human Rights: Grounds, Substance, Protection

MANCEPT Workshops, Sept 9-11, 2020

Convenors: Ruxandra Ivanescu (Manchester) and Davide Pala (Manchester)

Human rights play a pivotal role in contemporary political discourse. They are indeed usually invoked to stress that every individual is owed a certain kind of treatment as a matter of basic or fundamental justice. The violation of these rights, therefore, signals that a very serious injustice has been committed. Recently, for instance, human rights have been employed to denounce the situation of citizens of war-torn countries such as Syria, the criminalisation of LGBT individuals qua LGBT individuals in some Eastern European countries, the severe poverty and famine suffered by people in developing countries, as well as the significant effects of climate change on its victims. In addition to this, we’re also currently facing a global emergency, that is, the COVID-19 pandemic, which arguably puts the human rights of many people across the globe at great risk. 

While many political philosophers would likely agree that the cases above uncover human rights violations, they would disagree, at a fundamental level, about issues such as the origins of these rights, their exact content, and about who has to do what when it comes to their protection, etc. More specifically, philosophical disagreement about human rights can cover the following questions:

  • What are the grounds of human rights? Should human rights be understood as political artefacts mainly constraining states’ actions vis-à-vis their citizens, or are we rather entitled to human rights simply in virtue of our nature? And if the latter, what is the rights-endowing property?
  • What human rights are we entitled to? For example, do we have a human right to democracy? Is there a human right to certain social relations?
  • Who should count as a rights-holder? Is it only individuals who can possess human rights, or could they be held by groups too? 
  • What is the main function of human rights? Are they standards for state legitimacy, or grounds for intervening in states’ affairs, or do they have a different function altogether?
  • Who is the primary duty-bearer when it comes to the protection of human rights? Is it any capable agent, or rather states in the first place, and, if so, why? Moreover, when primary duty-bearers fail, who has the remedial duties to uphold them? Do international institutions also have some primary duties?
  • What is the most appropriate response when human rights are violated? What are the conditions under which military intervention is justified? 
  • What role do human rights play during times of emergencies? What can be demanded from governments and international organisations? Will the  emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic make us rethink who the primary duty-bearers are in terms of securing human rights? What are the appropriate economic responses to this crisis, which likely undermines the social human rights of many?

Our panel aims at bringing together scholars who work on human rights from a broad range of perspectives, and at furthering the debates that surround them. We therefore welcome contributions that address, but are not limited to, the questions above.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit a 500-words abstract of your paper prepared for blind-review by the 25th May 2020. We aim to respond within two weeks. All abstracts and enquiries about the workshop should be sent to

We aim to allow for 25 minutes per presentation and 25 minutes for Q&A.

We look forward to reading your abstracts and please contact us if you have any questions!

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