Up Close:

The (mis) appropriation of Human Rights

In this Up Close, a number of leading scholars examine the authoritarian turn of various governments, looking particularly at how they borrow and misappropriate the language of human and constitutional rights for repressive and anti-pluralist purposes, even while enjoying the legitimacy of the language and institutions of rights.

Başak Çalı and Esra Demir-Gürsel describe how Turkey in recent times has used familiar frames of human rights discourse to distinguish supposedly ‘authentic’ from ‘inauthentic’ rights holders. They argue that human rights are represented by the Turkish government as zero-sum games, with the rights of LGBTQI+ people being pitted against those of pious citizens, and the rights of families and public morals being invoked to justify withdrawing from legal instruments intended to regulate violence against women.

Farrah Ahmed in her essay argues that India under Modi has been using strategies of subterfuge and the language of constitutional rights to conceal authoritarian nationalist actions which, in the guise of protecting against religious persecution, are actually discriminating against Muslims and distorting the concept of secularism. 

These essays form part of a larger symposium on the (Mis)Appropriation of Human Rights by the New Global Right.




The (mis)appropriation of human rights

By: Gráinne de Burca & Katharine G. Young

Some human rights discourses have been appropriated by actors who go against human rights principles.

Cuckoos, chameleons, and Indian citizenship

By: Farrah Ahmed

The Indian government uses strategies to disguise its authoritarian nationalist actions through constitutional rights.

Misappropriating human rights: Examining Turkey

By: Başak Çalı & Esra Demir-Gürsel

Turkey shares important similarities with global trends with respect to human rights appropriation practices at the expense of women’s and LGBTQI+ rights.

Appropriating rights: Who rewrites rights and how?

By: Jayne Huckerby & Sarah Knuckey

Instead of blunt rejection, the global new Right is pursuing a project of so-called rights renewal.

Russia’s appropriation of human rights

By: Kristina Stoeckl

Drawing on transnational far-right strategies, Russia is using the language of rights to pursue a nationalist, anti-democratic agenda.

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