This paper is an excerpt from a much longer chapter in the forthcoming book on People-Centered Human Rights.
“Ours is the age of rights. Human rights is the idea of our time, the only political-moral idea that has received universal acceptance.”
― Louis Henkin
This quote from Louis Henkin, the venerable international legal scholar and passionate advocate for human rights, represents both the promise and the contradictory limitations of the human rights idea. For Professor Henkin and most of the human rights establishment, the universality of human rights is uncontested. The dominant values, assumptions, legal framework, research methodologies, forms of advocacy, institutional expressions and norm-setting processes that developed over the last six decades of the “modern” human rights period are seen as a natural evolution of progressive global relations.