Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies


04 Sep 2010 - 11 Sep 2010
Course directors:
Kristijan Posavec, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Croatia
Bernd Ladwig, Free University of Berlin, Germany
Georg Lohmann, University of Magdeburg, Germany
Course description:

The annual course concerns several problems of human rights discourses. The participants come from different nations and bring in different disciplinary competences relevant for human rights theory and practice: The Course aims at an interdisciplinary debate between philosophy, jurisprudence, and political science, confronting them also with the insights and experiences of human rights activists from the region.

The topic of next year’s course will be “Social Rights as Human Rights”. As widely yet still not universally accepted, there are different types of human rights. Especially contested is the type of social human rights, for at least five reasons.

Firstly, social rights are often seen as especially demanding types of claims and not all states in the world dispose over the material resources needed for their full realization. This doubt can be underpinned by two assertions: a) claims regarding negative liberties are generally easier to fulfil than claims calling for positive action, b) the costs of realizing human rights must be approximately zero because otherwise a claim could not serve as normative standards of universal validity, binding all states equally.

Secondly, social rights might pose more serious problems of vagueness than other categories of claims. The criteria of fulfilment of the corresponding duties might be less clear in the case of social rights than in the case of other types of claims.

Thirdly, social rights might pose especially serious problems of identifying the bearers of the corresponding duties. Without clearly identifiable addressees, however, human rights would be mere “manifesto rights” (Joel Feinberg).

Fourthly, human rights should serve as normative standards in international politics that limit the sovereignty of states. In cases of systematic violations of human rights claims to sovereignty must be overridden by attempts to end the violation. In the case of social rights, however, many would argue that any sort of international intervention would be inappropriate for social policies belong to the internal affairs of any states.

Fifthly, the postulate of social human rights would seriously restrict the range of democratic decision making.

Even among those who accept social rights as a type of human rights, there is disagreement about their specific status: Are social rights only instrumentally justified, as necessary means for the realization of those genuine types of human rights as rights to liberty or rights to political participation? Or should we place them at the same level than the other types of valid claims?

The course will give room for the presentation of papers as well as for workshops especially designed to give students and young researchers the opportunity to present projects. Each director will invite excellent students to participate in the course. The language is English.

Course lecturers:
Stefan Huster, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
Georg Lohmann, University of Magdeburg, Germany
Ana Matan, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Bernd Ladwig, Free University of Berlin, Germany