Rereading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Plurality and Contestation, Not Consensus
217 - 241
Journal of Human Rights
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In this article, I examine the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. My analysis counters conventional narratives of consensus and imposition that characterize the development of the UN human rights regime. The central argument is that within the founding text of the contemporary human rights movement there is an ambiguous account of rights, which exceeds easy categorization of international rights as universal moral principles or merely an ideological imposition by liberal powers. Acknowledging this ambiguous history, I argue, opens the way to an understanding of human rights as an ongoing politics, a contestation over the terms of legitimate political authority, and the meaning of “humanity” as a political identity.