Human rights, law and politics

A reflection on human rights work in the Middle East and North Africa

Authored by: Lynn Welchman

Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138807679
eBook ISBN: 9781315750972
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613763

10.4324/9781315750972.ch35

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Abstract

As the editor of this collection has observed, taken separately, ‘human rights’ and the ‘Middle East’ are rarely out of the headlines, and both topics have an exponentially growing scholarship to match. Taken together, ‘human rights and the Middle East’ frequently figure as uneasy partners, a dissonant coupling, in light of the many challenges that appear to defy their integration. Accepting that there are challenges is not admitting that they are insurmountable, whether we are talking about the meanings of human rights, the tenacity of the politically, socially and economically powerful, the selectivity of the human rights agenda of powerful Western states, or the substance of the academic critique of the ‘human rights project.’ The region is still full of people who act on human rights—imagine!—despite admonishments that (politically, ideologically) this is not properly their struggle, or not properly the form their struggle should take. Their insistence on acting on human rights has inspired me for decades and gives plenty of ground for reflection on how local actors have taken up the practical and theoretical challenges of human rights in the region.

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