Collection: Human Rights
As a taster of our publishing in Human Rights, we put together a collection of free articles, chapters and Open Access titles. If you are interested in trying out more content from our Global Social Challenges collections, ask your librarian to sign up for a free trial
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Social work in the US has failed to respond to the largest legislative attack on the rights of transgender and non-binary people in the history of the country. Hundreds of laws have been proposed over the past several years, aiming to ban transgender and non-binary people from public life, as well as criminalising gender-affirming healthcare and attempting to remove transgender youth from supportive families for forced detransition. Beginning with the Trump administration, these bills have exponentially increased in number, now being proposed in more than 60 per cent of the US. This article critically reviews the ways in which national social work organisations have failed to address both the systemic erasure of transgender people in their pedagogy and the behaviours of specific actors within the social work profession who are actively helping to draft anti-trans legislation and advocate for conversion therapy, contravening both the evidence base and code of ethics.
Since the return to democracy in the 1990s, community programmes in Chile have been pervaded by the neoliberal and neo-colonial approaches of social policies promoted by the state and supranational organisations, such as the World Bank. In this article, we examine the possibilities of front-line community social workers dismantling such a hegemonic rationale. Drawing upon the contributions of Latin American decolonial thought, we argue that social workers are able to exert resistance on the individual, competitive and instrumental approaches underlying their community interventions by decolonising their understandings and professional practices, and by being involved in collective political action. An exploration of Mapuche philosophy is offered as a means to illustrate some key dimensions in order to scrutinise community interventions and challenge the traditional mainstream Western and Eurocentric notions of community, knowledge and professional bonds and encounters. These proposals apply when working not only with culturally different populations, but also with all those subaltern groups oppressed by the neoliberal and neo-colonial rationale, in the interest of contributing to cognitive justice – another dimension of social justice.
This article examines whether there is an increase in repression in the election year in electoral autocracies. First, we build a simple theoretical model of an electoral autocracy. We assume that autocratic rulers want to maximise the expected rents from office. As a higher vote share in the election is translated into a higher probability of remaining in power, they use repression to exclude those opposing the ruler from the electoral body. Then, in the empirical section, we use a data set of autocracies to examine the existence of an electoral cycle in repression. We use a dynamic inverse probability weighting regression adjustment model, which models the dynamics of elections on the respect of human rights and considers that elections are non-random events. All results, and several robustness tests, indicate a strong presence of an electoral cycle in repression consistent with our theoretical model and priors. Additionally, we find that when it comes to autocracies, this cyclical increase in repression is more pronounced than the pre-electoral increase in government spending.
After years of violating the basic principles of human rights in the name of counterterrorism, western democracies have begun to implement extraterritorial safeguards that extend protections under the Convention against Torture to foreigners abroad. The case of the UK and the development of the ‘Principles’ in 2019, however, presents a particular puzzle to policymaking research, as it challenges traditional hypotheses regarding the opening of problem windows within the multiple streams framework. Accordingly, the UK presents an interesting case in which a powerful state willingly engaged in self-restraint, despite little electoral pressure to do so and a persistently high terrorist threat. Drawing on theory-building process-tracing, this article addresses this gap using data from semi-structured interviews with British policy experts to present a refined hypothesis, which can also be applied to policy fields of little public interest and processes of foreign policymaking.
Family planning programmes have been implemented throughout the world since the mid-20th century. In Brazil, the act governing family planning has been law for 25 years. However, the concept does not seem to be well known, being understood as contraceptives distribution. This article discusses Brazilian family planning policies, using a compulsory sterilisation lawsuit – reported by the media – to illustrate one of the many facets of gender-based violence in Brazil. This article is based on documentary research and uses a qualitative approach, applying content analysis to three selected texts. Only the news report that made the case public directly mentions the Family Planning Law and questions the suppression of reproductive rights. It was clear that conservatism was present in the actions of the judiciary, which appeared to be selective when choosing whose rights should be protected, denying poor women’s reproductive rights and upholding coercive birth control for the most deprived groups in the population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented global disruption. In this book we explore what the pandemic has shown us about ideology, social policy, and human rights in Global Minority countries. We focus particularly on the UK and US, and on the policy areas of health, food, housing, and technology. The problems we discuss are inherently political ‒ they have political causes and political solutions. For this reason, we focus on the political ideology that has shaped our policy landscape – neoliberalism – and countries that have pursued a neoliberal agenda to a great extent. We propose that ideological changes are an essential prerequisite for a well-planned, equitable, and just system going forward. Without such an explicit consideration of motivations and ideological underpinnings, future policies may fail in their goals, or, perhaps worse, set harmful and unethical goals.
COVID-19 is a timely and salient example of how some states have failed both to plan for a pending disaster and to equitably meet people’s needs up to and throughout the disaster. As Illner (2020) cogently argues, framing disasters COVID-19 included ‒ as sudden, unpredictable, and often ‘natural’ events which have disrupted an otherwise well-functioning system ignores the systematic marginalisation of people whose needs have been long-neglected by the state, and further obfuscates how that neglect led directly to disaster.
As the Indian economy is slowly opening up after the COVID-19 lockdown, it seems like a number of states are overriding even the most basic human rights of their workers in the name of labour reforms. These moves have been criticised in a number of national and international spheres, as along with the Constitution of India, they are inconsistent with various international instruments. Under these circumstances, this article provides a comprehensive view of the changes that have been made and why they are inhumane and derogatory towards the worker communities, and suggests possible ways forward to remedy the atrocious situation.
While governments draw on survey data to inform policy choices, the design, application, and interpretation of surveys can generate certain images of disability and ignore many others.
Aims and objectives:
This article draws attention to social circumstances of people with disabilities often unacknowledged in research evidence: hidden figures of disability.
Selected results from the Canadian Survey on Disability are examined with a focus on working-age youth and adults (aged 15 to 64) with a range of disabilities.
Five figures of disability and corresponding conceptual models are identified. These hidden figures of disability are the uncounted, those with needs unsupported, youth in multiple transitions, potential workers, and what may be called ‘the fearful’. Several models of disability are identified intersecting with the evidence. These are the absent citizen, biomedical model and charitable model, social and economic integration model, human rights and full citizenship, and psycho-emotional model of affective disablism and ableism.
Hidden figures of disability are more than statistical tests and texts; more than calculations derived from quantitative research where people become a data point. The function of drawing hidden figures is to disclose and describe the bodily experiences of people with disabilities in their social positions and structural contexts.
We need to see the production of evidence for policy not as painting a portrait but as portraits in the plural, and appreciate not only what is in the frame but also what faces and forms of knowledge get glossed over or brushed aside.
The measurement of equality is often difficult for groups who are weakly defined or poorly represented in official datasets. Social statistics are an essential component in rights recognition and advocacy because they make protected groups of persons visible and reveal the extent of their inequalities in comparison with population norms.
Aims and objectives:
This paper examines how disabled persons have been included, or not, in EU statistics used for evidenced-based policy – for example in the European Semester process concerning Member States’ employment and social policies, or in monitoring compliance with international human rights standards under the UN CRPD.
Over a period of a decade we mapped and disaggregated disability data from the main European social surveys, examining the availability and limitations of different sources to answer various policy questions.
The analysis produced indicators revealing stark inequalities between disabled and non-disabled persons but raised challenging questions about data quality, reliability and comparability. This revealed tensions in engaging the trust of policymakers in less familiar, or less reliable, data concerning minority groups.
Discussion and conclusions:
Despite limitations of precision, imperfect statistics often retain a strong expressive function in human rights promotion. Greater investment is needed from governments and statistical authorities to strengthen disability equality data and indicators concerning marginalised rights holders.
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the role of cruelty in politics, in the design and implementation of state policies and in non-state responses. Cruel acts and policies are worldwide, though the United Nations has set prohibitions on cruelty which represent global standards. If truths about worldwide cruelties become evident, the elimination of such practices should become a key consideration in any future crafting of policies and in the advocacy of values which influence political cultures. Advocacy of humanitarian alternatives to cruelty would depend on the spirit of universal human rights, challenges to oppressive uses of power, and the promotion of policies to address social and economic inequalities. The chapter then explains how understanding cruelty can be made easier by theory about patterns which persist irrespective of differences between countries and cultures. A first step in theorizing concerns the common ground between degrees of cruelty. Somewhat ironically, an understanding of humanity derives from observing cruelty, and provides the rationale for ‘humanitarian alternatives’.