his paper discusses the current conditions for thinking about development and human rights in a compatible, or even fully integrated way. The paper outlines the main developments and divergences during the Cold War, highlighting how the end of the Cold War and the Vienna Declaration offered a historic opportunity or 'kairos' to reunite the fractured 'generations' of human rights and to bring the projects of development and human rights closer together. But the advent of the 'right time' also coincided with a sense of stasis or even being too late, what we might call 'Kafka time' in a new context of posthumanity, where each generation of rights has become inverted or eviscerated and substantive human rights increasingly hollowed out by the operations of transnational capital.
The posthuman shift compromises basic assumptions underpinning each generation of human rights, driving the subject of rights towards Stark Utopia, Karl Polanyi's term for the attempt to impose the impossible universality of disembedded market civilisation, and its consequential effects (1944/2001). Regrettably, the current situation is one where the basic 'floor' of human rights assumptions has also been breached. Repeated retrogression of basic underpinning laws, norms and values make the ambition of restored indivisibility, interdependence and progressive realization seem even further away from achievability.
This paper responds to the predicaments raised by current human rights scepticism and retrogressions amidst a broader posthuman imaginary, by advancing a concept of a zeroth generation of human rights as precondition rights. Outlining a zeroth generation of human rights allows us to 'give back the human', re-setting human rights within the obligation of all parties (and not only states) to protect humanity and its safe operating space (Rockstrom et al 2009; Steffens et al 2015). This zeroth generation of rights concern core duties towards the maintenance of a social and international order, expressed in UDHR Articles 28, 29 and 30.