Human Rights Day Lecture: Bertrand Ramcharan

The Great Powers and International Human Rights

  • Mon 10 Dec 18

    14:00 - 16:00

  • Colchester Campus

    EBS 2.50

  • Event speaker

    Bertrand Ramcharan

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Human Rights Centre Speaker Series

  • Event organiser

    Human Rights Centre

The lecture will be preceded by a welcome from the chair and poetry readings from members of from Write to Life, the creative writing and performance group comprised of survivors of torture.

On the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it is worthwhile to assess the state of international human rights law.

All Governments have a legal obligation to uphold international human rights flowing from norms of Jus cogens, international customary law, international treaty law, and general principles of law. Yet, international human rights law is grievously violated world-wide. How might one turn this around? Is there a Human Rights Realpolitik that can counter political realpolitik?

John Mearsheimer, in his 2018 book, The Great Delusion, argues that universal human rights do not exist, that there is no place for liberalism in international relations, that realism has no place for human rights, that across the globe people prefer stability to rights, and that the Great Powers, the USA, China and Russia give priority to the protection of their interests over rights. This is a daunting assessment from a pre-eminent realist theoretician.

This presentation will place the great powers under the microscope through the lens of: international law; universality; national protection systems; international scrutiny; international protection; protection of minorities; preventive strategies; and human rights education. If the Great Powers do not uphold international human rights law, what then are we left with?

Bertrand Ramcharan is a Barrister of Lincoln’s Inn with a Doctorate in international law from the LSE. He holds the Diploma in International Law of the Hague Academy. In addition to law, he has degrees in history and philosophy. He has been Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute, Deputy and then Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, and Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Discussant: Dr Andrew Fagan, University of Essex

Chair: Lorna McGregor, University of Essex

All are welcome to attend. Please register your attendance via Eventbrite.

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