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A Somewhat Epilogue: On the Ground

WithAnat Biletzki

The deep explanation for why and how international human rights has gone so wrong in its on-the-ground workings is to be found in the abyss of representation and responsibility: Who do the organizations and activists represent and to whom are they responsible? Human rights has been described as the new “world-wide secular religion,” along with its sacred text, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “the essential document, the touchstone, the creed of humanity that surely sums up all other creeds directing human behaviour”. Enlightenment deplores the darkness of hidden secrets; enlightenment distributes information freely; enlightenment does this with pure motives concerning the human condition. But enlightenment in the guise of human rights, in this story, brought about so many added tragedies. The discussants of human rights seem obligated to account for perspectival aspects of their analysis, such perspectives having to do with race, gender, geography, history, and religion, to name a few.