It is a generally accepted belief, in many societies, that having rights is a good thing. It is one of the ways in which we organize the community we live in—it is a form of defining how we treat, what we owe, and what we can demand from each other. Winning rights—that is, obtaining the state’s recognition of rights claimed by mobilized individuals—has historically been a source of social change. This historical fact has created political narratives of rights-expansion as an obviously good thing. Having rights is good, and having more rights is even better. This approach has extended into legal principles, such as the “non regression principle” in international human rights law. I want to argue against this belief and some of its consequences. Under certain conditions, having rights might be detrimental to the well-being of society. I want to explore, theoretically and through some examples, what are precisely those conditions and what justifies loosing rights under them.
We look forward to welcoming you on July 3-5, 2023 for our Annual Conference entitled "Islands and Ocean: Public Law in a Plural World." The conference will take place at the Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. We will be announcing more details about the conference soon, including financial support to early career and global south scholars!