Keywords: vernacularisation, agency, legitimacy, legal complexity, socio-economic equality


Human Rights Deficits

The first line of research concerns human rights both in theory and practice. In theory, the transformation of political commitment to human rights into (inter)national law has coercive powers and will guarantee access to justice.  Whether this is a valid assumption depends largely on how the officially declared rights can be acquired in domestic politics. The study analyses a practice of enforcement and implementation; entailing rules, regulations, and, if necessary, penalties that can assure compliant behaviors of the State or other third parties to non-violations of human rights. Regard is made on socio-economic rights that have been signed, ratified and/or declared by the State, but is neither embedded in socio-political culture, nor based on institutionalised practices. In these situations, the question is to what extent and how the declaration of human rights by the State does or does not provide legal means for right-holders to hold the State accountable.


Discursive Practices

The second line of research considers the discursive practice  of universal rights, that is the process that renders human rights into social knowledge and shapes social practice.  The growing prominence of universal rights goes hand in hand with the increased and diverse ways through which rights are interpreted and invoked. The study particularly addresses the usage and meaning of human rights at the level of discourse and regulation, as well as in political struggle. It aims to gain insights on various ways of mobilisation, negotiation and (re)conceptualisation  of human rights within plural legal frameworks. Observations are made on, firstly, the benchmarks and narratives that limit and expand the meaning of rights, and secondly, the locations and sites where claims based on human rights are being submitted. A legal sociological approach is applied to examine the role of (middle) actors and the consequence of such discursive practices, particularly to autonomy and citizenship.