We should be teaching for human rights, not teaching about human rights: a response to Agostini


Image by Maruf Rahman from Pixabay

Billions of potential claim holders — that is, groups whose rights are violated — and hundreds of human rights defenders fear that human rights for all may be an ideal too distant to achieve. For them, it is crucial to overcome their anxiety and continue to pursue the human rights goals of justice, equality and dignity as something that humanity lacks today but could achieve tomorrow. . Therefore, it is worthwhile for these claim-holders and defenders to renew their fight for human rights to be specific and concrete, even through trial and error. The tools and methods to do this exist. The holders of debts are diverse and infinitely more numerous than the holders of obligations (which are strictly speaking States). It is therefore sufficient to mobilize the debt holders to stand up and claim their rights.

In this endeavor, it is not that the many roads to Rome are full of obstacles for rights holders to overcome; they must aim for a different Rome. In other words, human rights defenders trying to push forward the progressive human rights agenda cannot idly wait for a future indefinite electoral round to move forward. Instead, they would be in the best position to embark on a monumental, global human rights learning effort.

The urgent job is to build a vigorous coalition – comprising trade unions, racial and minority justice groups and grassroots activist organizations – which, with not only voice but influence, is dedicated to launching a global campaign to learn the best. human rights who will push for a new popular movement of direct democracy.

This brings me to my confusion about Agostini’s article, which asserts that “identity and subjective claims undermine the causes of human rights”. Despite rereading the article carefully, I just couldn’t understand where he wanted human rights activists to go from there.

Let me start with a few points that I agree with. Not everyone shares the same understanding of human rights protections, and his presentation of the methods used in human rights work is correct as illustrated. I also agree with the importance of differentiating equality from equity, the latter being a concept of social justice and not of human rights. And finally, I agree that “the truth” is not just the truth of the activists.

What is not clear to me is his claim that human rights protect us, but not against emotional damage; that the exclusive use of subjectivity violates these rights, because by relying exclusively on subjectivity, we allow those who want to destroy human rights.

Agostini further tells us that theoretical approaches to human rights start from their conclusions and are therefore imperfect and that many of us are unable to cope with unfavorable opinions. And then, at the end, I read that the human rights movement has to find the right balance between subjective experiences and objective norms.

The conflict is still not resolved. Agostini does not offer a solution to what we as human rights defenders are supposed to do differently next Monday morning, nor does it offer examples of how identity movements undermine human rights causes.

My proposal to launch a new human rights learning campaign focused on empowering claim holders to proactively demand their rights deviates diametrically from Agostini’s advice in that it offers a concrete and objective route for the future of human rights. Details of its content may follow.

Only the consistent practice of such a participatory people-centered approach will ultimately overcome the limitations of existing imperfect capitalist development models and theories.

It is important to bear in mind here that, through learning, we must ultimately create awareness of the need to create a counter-power to the neoliberal order that prioritizes market considerations over human rights. the man. To achieve this, it is essential to mount an aggressive human rights education campaign for claim holders around the world, which will address the political aspects of the realization of the indivisible body of human rights.

Only the consistent practice of such a participatory people-centered approach will ultimately overcome the limitations of existing imperfect capitalist development models and theories. At the same time, political actors and parties must be pushed and supported. If this development seems unlikely or too difficult, I would respond by saying that maintaining the status quo will slowly and surely lead to a continued increase in inequality to unsustainable levels.

Let’s be clear: at the end of the day, we should be teaching human rights, not human rights. Learning about human rights is therefore not about perpetuating the practice of having endless conversations in a language that is only understood by us “iniciati”, which brings me back to my critique of Agostini, namely that “identity and subjective claims undermine the causes of human rights.

Ultimately, the challenge ahead is to generate popular alternative human rights work strategies and the corresponding set of tactics to implement them. But to tell the difference, remember that being alone does not change much; so network with other like-minded activists in this area.


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