Location: 500 First St NW, 9th Floor
Date: March 5, 2024

In 1990, Italian philosopher Norberto Bobbio published an influential collection of essays entitled The Age of Rights, arguing that the emergence of human rights was a marker of progress in a world torn apart by war and inequality. That same year, Lou Henkin, widely recognized as the father of human rights law in the U.S., published a book of the same name. Both scholars sought to explain the importance of human rights in protecting the inherent dignity of human beings and preserving democratic values.

But that “Age of Rights” was warped by States locked in Cold War division, which led to the separation of human rights into two categories, giving a lower level of protection and justiciability to economic, social and cultural rights. Today, we see the repercussions of this artificial division: greater inequality, and an opening for authoritarian governments to advance a vision of the world very different from the one set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

In the wake of one of humanity’s worst pandemics and facing an unprecedented climate emergency, we must tackle with urgency the task of repairing this breach. Our Age of Rights must be one that takes Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights seriously. What would that look like? Fortunately, we have a model in the Inter-American Human Rights system, which has made unparalleled progress in advancing national and international standards for their recognition and protection. As the first ever expert in the Inter-American system to carry this mandate, our Drinan Chair will draw on her recent experiences, as the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights to chart a course for the future.

Join the Human Rights Institute on Tuesday, March 5th for our annual Drinan Chair Lecture on Human Rights, delivered by Professor Soledad García Muñoz. Also featuring an introduction by former commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Margarette May Macaulay.


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