Human Rights in an Unequal World: Structural Inequalities and the Imperative for Global Cooperation

Abstract: Efforts to realize social and economic rights are currently being exercised in a context of extreme inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. This question of the impact of global inequalities on the realization of rights and development objectives extends to inequalities in power dynamics and policy space. The economic interdependencies that structure the global economy mean that the actions of governments in influential economies frequently constrain the ability of other countries to fully support the enjoyment of rights. This essay explores the relationship between global economic inequality and human rights. It demonstrates how inequality affects the enjoyment of rights worldwide, and how the human rights framework has implications for how we think about global inequalities.

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About Radhika Balakrishnan

Radhika Balakrishnan is faculty director at the Center for Women's Global Leadership and professor in Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from Rutgers University. She was Commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equity for the City of New York and the Co-Chair of the Civil Society Advisory Committee for the United Nations Development Program. She is the co-author of Rethinking Economic Policy for Social Justice: The Radical Potential of Human Rights with James Heintz and Diane Elson (Routledge, 2016). She is the co-editor with Diane Elson of Economic Policy and Human Rights: Holding Governments to Account (Zed Books, 2011). Balakrishnan's work focuses on gender and development, gender and the global economy, human rights, and economic and social rights.

About James Heintz

James Heintz is Andrew Glyn Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.