Abstract: There is something distinctly ritualistic about the Preamble in international human rights instruments: in its repetitiveness both within and across legal instruments; in its logical ordering of the universe, connecting what has gone before (‘whereas’: human nature, crisis, recognition) with what must follow (‘therefore’: the law, this law); in its very style and representation. This suggests that the Preamble is more than a literally useful passage at the start of the text for lawyers to get to the law, but also something like a rite of passage, a performative calling-forth of ‘what goes before’ so that universal human rights might follow. This paper examines what such a reading of the Preamble in international human rights law as a ritual might reveal about universal human rights, and what it might reveal about the ‘problem’ of human rights ritual/ism.
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In our new issue we feature Joseph Massad’s piece arguing against self-determination. Also in this issue are essays on human rights and promise making, colonial officials and international development, humanitarian neutrality, and Catholic human rights doctrine. The issue rounds off with a review essay on archives, memory and dictatorship.View entire issue >
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Call for Papers: Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies on ‘Law, Governance and Development: Critical and Heterodox Approaches’ (co-edited by Mark Toufayan and Siobhan Airey) The myriad legal and policy instruments in the governance of development have shifted and evolved in significant ways in recent years, posing challenges to scholars, historians, policy-makers and practitioners on how to effectively map, analyse and critique their nature and effects. Contributions are being sought (in French and English) for a bilingual Special Issue of the Canadian Continue reading →