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AHRI Conference 2018


The Global Justice Academy holds the Secretariat of the Association of Human Rights Institutes. We will be hosting the annual conference in Edinburgh in 2018 on:


Renewing Rights in Times of Transition: 70 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


In 2018 we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). At the time of its adoption, none of the drafters nor the UN General Assembly could have calculated the protection of human rights for people across the globe that would grow from the document. Across every country, grassroots campaigners and civil society work to combat inequality across a host of civil, political,social, economic and cultural fronts. All 193 Members States of the United Nations are periodically examined with reference to the UDHR. Nine core human rights treaties and a number of further optional protocols have been agreed to give legal force to the promises set out in the UDHR. Governance of the international human rights system is overseen by treaty bodies, national human rights institutions, and other UN bodies. Each of these aspects of the grand human rights system has met unrelenting challenges and the 70th anniversary of the UDHR presents a perfect opportunity to take stock of how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Content and focus:

Human rights is a constantly expanding field with new issues for discussion and debate arising daily. The AHRI conference is ideally placed to provide a platform for discussion, debate and advanced-thinking about the issues that plague humanity. In 2018 we would like to take stock of the innovative ways in which the international community has developed a concerted effort to promote and protect human rights.

Human rights appear peculiarly under threat in a global, structural way. Transitions to democracy in which rights were seen as central, have not tracked smoothly forward, but suffer ‘democratic regression’, western liberal states who long promoted rights appear to be at a new cross-roads in which populism goes hand-in-hand with dismantling rights commitments. Rising new powers increasingly seek to play a part in global politics, but with questions about the normative commitments underlying their normative interventions. At the same time, there has been talk of revisiting the UDHR and the UN mechanisms to make them more relevant. Human rights discourse and the treaty machinery also come up against a different form of challenge in the form of new ‘regimes’ such as responsibility to protect, or the women, peace and security agenda, which can undermine tried and tested forms of human rights law and mechanisms. Against this backdrop, we take the 70th anniversary of the UDHR as a starting point, and aim to organise a conference which revisits its relevance in the current global context.


The CALL FOR PAPERS will be opened in January 2018.


We will update this page regularly as plans develop.