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Rights Inflation and Role Conflict in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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Chapter Summary

The story captures the global expectations that go with the role of High Commissioner, but it also captures the conflict between being a United Nations (UN) politician and a global voice of conscience. In the High Commissioners’ discharge of this highly political role, there have been some high points and low points. The High Commissioners’ have stood up for the indivisibility and universality of human rights in the face of strong counter challenge from the Muslim world, and in 1995, they helped lead the re-affirmation at Beijing that women’s rights are human rights. The low points were a failure to control rights inflation, the tendency to codify aspirations in the economic, social and cultural field into rights language. Finally, the goals of the office are simple, really: to fight cruelty, enhance voice, and protect agency.

Keywords:High Commissioner; human rights; political role; rights inflation; United Nations (UN)



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