Competing Conceptions of Human Rights: From Rhetoric to Rights Provision

Camps, D. M. J. and Busby, N. (2023) Competing Conceptions of Human Rights: From Rhetoric to Rights Provision. Socio-Legal Studies Association annual conference 2023, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 4-6 April 2023.

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Current approaches to human rights across the UK could be said to be characterised by divergence, with the UK Government pursuing regressive reform of the Human Rights Act 1998 while the devolved administrations within Scotland and Wales are engaged in progressive plans to incorporate a range of international treaties into domestic law. Against this backdrop, this paper explores how different and sometimes competing conceptions of human rights intersect with legal provision. We narrow our focus to Scotland and its development of a new Human Rights Incorporation Bill, which will incorporate a range of social, economic and cultural rights into Scots law. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is being incorporated through a parallel process. Combining expertise from law and critical sociolinguistics, we adopt an interdisciplinary approach to examine how human rights are interpreted by different stakeholders, e.g. policymakers, civil society, duty bearers and rights holders. We show how debates in Scotland provide a stark contrast to the discursive dynamics within Westminster by sharing insights from our analysis of parliamentary debates related to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the UK Government’s proposed reforms. The data show which discourses of human rights are foregrounded in these debates and the types of knowledge (re)produced, contested and debunked. This paper illustrates how a better understanding of competing conceptions of human rights can help address expectations of various stakeholders about how law and policy can be best mobilised to deliver socially just outcomes.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Camps, Dr Diana and Busby, Professor Nicole
Authors: Camps, D. M. J., and Busby, N.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
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