On Setting Priorities among Human Rights

Human Rights Review 15 (3):239-257 (2014)
Authors
Jos Philips
Utrecht University
Abstract
Should conflicts among human rights be dealt with by including general principles for priority setting at some prominent place in the practice of human rights? This essay argues that neither setting prominent and principled priorities nor a case-by-case approach are likely to be defensible as general solutions. The main reasons concern how best to realize all human rights for all. Conflicts among human rights are more defensibly addressed by checking whether the conflict has been correctly diagnosed: Do human rights as a whole get due priority? Have feasibility considerations inherent in human rights been considered, and the possibility of bringing in additional dutybearers? If a conflict among human rights is genuine, formal principles for priority setting are of some help. Sometimes, it is clear that these should be “upgraded” to substantive principles and sometimes that they should not. Many cases, however, are as yet unclear and will need further investigation
Keywords Human rights/human rights practice  Priorities/priority setting  Philosophy  Interdependence of human rights/indivisibility  Feasibility/sensitivity to scarcity  Dutybearers
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DOI 10.1007/s12142-013-0300-4
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References found in this work BETA

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