Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Khoo, S
Irish Studies In International Affairs
Rethinking the International Order—Towards the Zeroth Generation of Human Rights
Optional Fields
human rights; zeroth generation; international cooperation; posthumanism; Art 28, UDHR
This article revisits the idea of ‘generations’ of human rights at the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration (UDHR) and 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration, in a new ‘post-human’ context. The basic assumptions underpinning human rights are compromised when the subject of rights is re-shaped by the ‘stark utopia’ of market globalisation. Current critiques of liberal human rights coincide with the potential collapse of the ‘floor’ of basic assumptions underpinning human rights universalism. Repeated retrogressions of human rights laws, norms and values make ambitions for progressive realisation seem unachievable when even basic standards are compromised. A post-human imaginary frames the argument for recovering the principle of humanity. The technology-humanity nexus is explored, going beyond the application of science and technology to human rights to view law and human rights as enabling, human-centred social technologies in themselves. The concept of a zeroth generation of human rights adapts the fictional zeroth Law of Robotics to the predicament of human rights in posthuman times. The zeroth generation of rights expresses precondition rights necessary to all ‘generations’ of rights, by specifying a common duty to vindicate humanity as such. This compels human rights to ‘give back the human’, re-setting human rights within the obligation of all parties (not only states) to protect humanity and its ‘safe operating space’. The zeroth generation concept is central to the SDGs and the future of multilateralism, since it concerns the normative core at the centre of the ‘social and international order’, expressed in UDHR Articles 28, 29 and 30. Collective duties towards humanity ultimately represent the essential preconditions for an international order that vindicates the UDHR and realises the potential of rights-based multilateral cooperation and sustainable development.
Grant Details
Publication Themes
Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy, Humanities in Context