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Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert

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Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert

What are the main drivers of political transition and regime change? And to what extent do these apparently seismic political changes result in real change? These questions are the focus of this comparative study written by a mix of scholars and practitioners. This state-of-the-art volume identifies patterns in political transitions, but is largely unconvinced that these transitions bring about real change to the underlying structures of society. Patriarchy, land tenure, and economic systems often remain immune to change, despite the headlines.
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Hans J. Giessmann and Roger Mac Ginty

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Robin Wilson

Europe has talked itself into a refugee and security crisis. There is, however, a misrecognition of the real challenge facing Europe: the challenge of managing the relationship between Europeans and the currently stigmatized ‘others’ which it has attracted. Making the case against a ‘Europe of walls’, Robin Wilson instead proposes a refounding of Europe built on the power of diversity and an ethos of hospitality rather than an institutional thicket serving the market.
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Robin Wilson

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Robin Wilson

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Backlash and international human rights courts

Crisis, Accountability, and Opportunity

Wayne Sandholtz, Yining Bei and Kayla Caldwell

Non-compliance with, and criticism of, the decisions of international human rights courts are commonplace. Sometimes states seek to curtail a court’s authority, by pruning its competences, withdrawing from its jurisdiction, or shutting it down altogether. This chapter examines these more aggressive forms of backlash against three prominent international courts: the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Governments are more likely to engage in backlash against an international human rights court the more its decisions are seen by national leaders as harming their domestic political interests.

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Jesilyn Faust

As we see a decrease in the observance and respect for human rights, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, it is easy to blame religious fundamentalism for these contractions. However, is this assumption accurate? Is the blame being correctly placed at the door of fundamentalism or should we look elsewhere? To answer this question, I look at two cases of women’s rights activism surrounding customary family law in Morocco between 2000–2014. In one case, women were successful at achieving the passage of meaningful legislation to improve women’s rights. In the second case, in spite of a great deal of international support, campaigning, and funding, women’s rights contracted. By comparing and contrasting these two cases, it becomes clear that a big difference between the two was the engagement of the Islamic Feminist movement. In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, it is precisely by engaging with grassroots Islamic Feminists and moderates that international organizations will be able to combat the tide of extremism and the subsequent contraction of human rights.

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Natasha Bennett

In 2007 Paul Collier wrote of a “bottom billion” people caught in state-centric poverty traps. According to the U.N. Population Fund, by 2030, there will be two billion people caught in localized, individual poverty traps created by the political and socio-economic conditions in urban slums. This global expansion of urban slums presents a critical challenge for the future of the human rights project. This chapter argues that the global expansion of slums exacerbates two mutually reinforcing problems in the provision of human rights: fulfillment and accountability. State-centric mechanisms for human rights fulfillment often do not deliver at subnational levels of governance, particularly in modernizing economies and financially weaker states. Additionally, urban slum dwellers often lack the ability to hold the state accountable, because they have limited resources for mobilization, or lack access to formal claims-making mechanisms, such as the courts. Without a solution to the problems of fulfillment and accountability, the world faces a future in which two or three billion urban poor find themselves locked out of the human rights regime designed to protect the world’s vulnerable populations. This chapter discusses the extent of global slum formation, the nature of the relationship between human rights fulfillment and accountability, and then how this framework applies to one example: the human right to housing in India and Brazil.

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Anne Vestergaard and Michael Etter

This chapter reports on a study, which examines the evolution of business and human rights discourse in news and CSR reports since the launch of the UN Global Compact in 2000. Through a qualitative content analysis, the study investigates to what extent an expanded understanding of corporations responsibility for human rights is adopted by key actors, the corporations themselves and the news media, as watchdogs and primary sources of public information on corporate conduct. Findings indicate that these actors have moved away from a focus on simply respecting human rights, towards seeing corporations as playing an active role in protecting them. News media do, however, still present this as a morally voluntary role.