Human Rights: Old Dichotomies Revisited

Date(s) of Conference:

November 25-26, 2011


Sydney Law School


The purpose of this conference will be to reflect upon the traditional, ‘classical’ dilemmas and taxonomies in the philosophy of human rights, in the light of recent developments in theories of rights and in the international law of human rights. We all have been taught, and have taught, a number of traditional dichotomies that have been entrenched in theories of human rights for a number of decades: moral versus legal, positive versus negative, first-generation versus second- (and third- ) generation; vertical (against the state) versus horizontal (against other citizens); universal versus relative (or particular); judicially-enforced versus legislatively-protected, etc. Have these dichotomies retained their validity and only the circumstances of their practical applications been altered or have they outgrown their validity altogether?

There have been important developments in the philosophy of human rights and in the international law of human rights, both of which may shed a new light on the dilemmas encapsulated by these (and other) dichotomies.

The conference will bring together the leading international and Australian scholars in jurisprudence and in international human-rights law who will be asked to reflect upon the relevance (or otherwise) of the traditional “dichotomies” at the end of the first decade of the 21stCentury.

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