Routledge has just published a book by Dr. Raymond Smith directly based on his 2017 Essex LLM dissertation in IHR law, which was conducted with Dr. Julian Burger of the Human Rights Centre. The short e-book is entitled Extending International Human Rights Protections to Vulnerable Populations. A political scientist by training, Ray is an adjunct associate professor with the Center for Global Affairs at New York University(NYU) and a member of the affiliated faculty of the Program in Human Rights Practice at the University of Arizona, USA. This blogpost provides the abstract to the book, which identifies key strategies being used to articulate the legal basis for the protection of vulnerable populations that are not specifically mentioned in the nine core IHR treaties.
Numerous vulnerable populations experience severe and systematic violations of their human rights based on the characteristics that either are not directly covered, or not fully addressed, in the existing texts of international human rights treaties. This book inductively develops a new typology that identifies and evaluates three principal strategies that have been, and are being, used to extend human rights protections to new categories of vulnerable populations. The strategies are:
- Categorical enlargement, which entails arguing for including new populations within existing protected categories, such as race and sex;
- Conceptual expansion, which involves the development of novel heuristic frameworks to address the complex patterns of intersectional and compounded discrimination experienced by some populations; and
- Group-conscious universal application, which asserts that the effective defense of individuals requires active recognition of the group-level characteristics that contribute to their vulnerability.
Extending International Human Rights Protections to Vulnerable Populations explicates the evolution and ongoing utility of the three strategies through case studies of nine distinct vulnerable populations: national minorities; those oppressed on the basis of caste; people with albinism; cross-cultural migrants; members of the Africa diaspora; Roma/Gypsies; persons affected by leprosy; older individuals; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The Conclusion considers the utility of the strategies for emerging vulnerable populations, including those with a non-binary gender identity, those susceptible to discrimination based on genetic information, and intersex individuals.
Of interest to academics, social justice advocates, human rights fields professionals, and those working with oppressed groups, Extending International Human Rights Protections to Vulnerable Populations aims to influence the debate over protection of vulnerable populations to move beyond a stale fixation on the texts of treaties and towards a more proactive normative framework that prioritizes the lived experiences of human beings.
About the author: Raymond A. Smith, Ph.D., LL.M., is an adjunct associate professor with the Center for Global Affairs at New York University (NYU) and a faculty member of the Program in Human Rights Practice at the University of Arizona.
Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the author(s) alone.