Human rights, specification and communities of inquiry

Global Constitutionalism 4 (2): 254-287 (2015)
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This paper offers a revised political conception of human rights informed by legal pluralism and epistemic considerations. In the first part, I present the political conception of human rights. I then argue for four desiderata that such a conception should meet to be functionally applicable. In the rest of the first section and in the second section, I explain how abstract human rights norms and the practice of specification prevent the political conception from meeting these four desiderata. In the last part of the paper, I argue that full-fledged tolerance in the international order – that is tolerance-as-non-intervention and tolerance-as-respect – should be attached to (1) compliance with jus cogens norms and to; (2a) a political community recognizably organized as a community of inquiry that is; (2b) committed to the specification and incorporation or expression of the idea of human rights within its local legal system.



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Yann Allard-Tremblay
McGill University

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