Mensenrechten : een seculiere religie met juridische koevoeten ?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This contribution offers to steer a discussion on the constitutive stance of fundamental rights in Western legal systems. The story of the democratic constitutional state, a story of rule of law and human rights, is an already 250 years old utopia, which persists despite long-standing patterns of slavery, war, torture, poverty, hunger, deportations, racism, and other unfavorable matters to human rights. This paper aims at questioning this perpetual paradox. After an historical assessment of human rights, we maintain that the traditional narrative emerges as the result of an interchangeable religious process: human rights as the gospel of a secular religion. Despite this, our perspectives on the rights apparatus can be adjusted by a more realistic vision of legal practices. Under certain conditions, human rights can function as legal crowbars in courts. With the crowbar metaphor, we adopt a constructive and pragmatic approach to human rights. Yet, what stands out is an expectation to move beyond the human rights axioms, rather than an endeavor to fix them. Ultimately, we suggest that other less toxic frameworks could replace traditional human rights narratives as constructs that may better realize our hopes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSonja Snacken
Subtitle of host publicationRedelijk eigenzinnige humaniste - humanite engagée - an inspiring humanist
EditorsBeyens Kristel, Diete Humblet, Hilde Tubex , An-Sofie Vanhouche, Kristof Verfaillie
Place of PublicationBrussels
Number of pages32
ISBN (Print)97861170286
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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