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About the Journal


Practical application of and academic interest in human rights has grown exponentially over the last decade. Activism – its methods, its ethical imperatives and dilemmas, its particular constituencies, its social and political impact, and even its organizational structure – has become the subject of rigorous scrutiny. New vehicles for the dissemination of the ideas, debates and arguments generated by this remarkable phenomenon are clearly required. The Journal of Human Rights Practice aims to capture learning and communicate the lessons of practice across professional and geographical boundaries, within and beyond the human rights mainstream, and to provide a platform for international and local practitioners world-wide. Such cross-fertilization will challenge conventional ways of working, stimulate innovation and encourage reflective practice.

What do we mean by “Practice”?

The concept of “human rights practice” will be interpreted widely in this journal. Our goal is to invite reflection, analysis and comment from practitioners and academics working across a broad spectrum of professions and academic disciplines. The Journal seeks to represent something of the unprecedented range of innovative approaches being undertaken by those actively applying the framework of international human rights standards to the contexts in which they are working – whether these be through prominent international organizations, community-based initiatives, university or training courses, global or local campaigns, or within social, cultural or economic institutions at all levels of society. The key term here is actively applying. By way of example, analysis of case-law on a particular theme, accompanied by reflection on how it would affect human rights campaigns in practice, would be encouraged, but an exclusive focus on readings of legal judgments or discussions of the development of jurisprudence are better suited to other journals in the field. For our purposes, human rights practice implies an extension beyond reading texts and purely philosophical debates to a focus on implementation – or, in other words, human rights in the “real world”.

We aim to explore recent developments in research, documentation and campaigning methodologies, and their implications for both the ethics and the efficacy of human rights practice. We are eager to hear from those who are breaking new ground in investigating and analyzing the potential of the international human rights framework as a vehicle for legislative, social and cultural change through advocacy, mobilization or education. We are keen to examine how human rights is being used in new and challenging ways to enhance the protection of individuals or of specific groups of persons, as well as the drawbacks of this framework. We are anxious to engage with difficult questions: Is the human rights movement a mass movement or a professional elite, or both? Can prevention make up ground on the prevailing reactive approach to abuses? How have post 9/11 developments affected human rights defenders? Why have some issues, such as use of child soldiers, become a popular cause, while attempts to campaign for others, such as migrant workers, have mostly failed? Thus authors writing for the Journal – whether activists or academics – need not be uncritical champions of the human rights project and its foundational texts. The Journal will also be a forum for those whose work has brought them into a more critical or even adversarial relationship with human rights discourse.

Constructive, informed criticism of human rights assumptions and orthodoxies will always be welcome, as will commentaries which point out alternative frameworks for protection or the mobilization of people and public opinion.

The Journal will be interdisciplinary, inviting perspectives from disciplines long associated with human rights, such as law, politics and international relations, as well as more disciplines in which scholarship has flourished more recently, such as anthropology. We will encourage discussions with related fields of study such as development, criminology or conflict-resolution, as well as exploring emerging links between human rights and issues such as public health, the environment or corruption. While the Journal’s focus is on the contemporary world, studies of historical cases, such as the American Civil Rights Movement or the negotiations over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will also be encouraged, if they serve to illuminate current practice.

In recent years, human rights practitioners and NGOs have displayed a much greater attentiveness to the ethical dimensions of human rights research – including wider consideration of issues such as the representation of victims and the conduct of North/South relationships. The Journal seeks to reflect this trend and to be conscious of potential ethical dilemmas which may arise in the context of the articles published here. We encourage contributors to be mindful of these concerns, and the editors are happy to receive any questions regarding ethical standards that may arise in the course of preparing an article for submission.


Journal of Human Rights Practice is covered by the following abstracting and indexing services:

Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

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