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OpenGlobalRights Perspectives


We know what it means to practice a skill such as juggling or dancing, but what does it mean to "practice" human rights?

Contributions to OpenGlobalRights (OGR), since its inception, have gravitated around critique of human rights practices by focusing on advocacy and activism, cultivating debates that address the contemporary dilemmas facing human rights movements worldwide. The launch of OGR four years ago is a symptom of what I’ve referred to elsewhere as a “practice turn” in the scholarly field of human rights—one that takes human rights practice as its subject, forges space for scholar-practitioner collaboration and communication, and focuses on strategies and tactics utilized to advance human rights norms.

Yet, considering the ubiquity of the term “human rights practice,” conceptually it remains unexplored. As other academic areas have done recently, I propose an attempt to define what it means to practice human rights. Then, we (as scholars and practitioners) need to outline the social nature of human rights practice and, finally, suggest how the practice turn permits critical investigation of human rights in an effort to strengthen advocacy and improve outcomes.

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Article was originally published on OpenGlobalRights’ Perspectives website, an op-ed page for the global human rights community. View the article online here.

Document is made available for download in compliance with the publisher's policy (CC-BY-NC). Permission documentation is on file.