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Universalism vs Women's Rights: A critical discussion on gender-specific human rights regulation

Törnqvist, Tora LU (2016) JAMM04 20161
Department of Law
Abstract
When founding the modern human rights protection, the UN did to a great extent have focus on protecting men and men’s rights, even though one of the core principles of human rights is their universality. Over the past few decades work has been done to include women’s perspectives in the human rights protection. The UN has chosen a dual strategy, where women’s rights are both protected in gender-specific instruments and mainstreamed into general human rights documents. This thesis aims to bring a critical perspective to the theoretical discussion on women’s rights and universality. The research questions concerns gender-specific human rights regulation and its compatibility with the universality of human rights. Alternative solutions to the... (More)
When founding the modern human rights protection, the UN did to a great extent have focus on protecting men and men’s rights, even though one of the core principles of human rights is their universality. Over the past few decades work has been done to include women’s perspectives in the human rights protection. The UN has chosen a dual strategy, where women’s rights are both protected in gender-specific instruments and mainstreamed into general human rights documents. This thesis aims to bring a critical perspective to the theoretical discussion on women’s rights and universality. The research questions concerns gender-specific human rights regulation and its compatibility with the universality of human rights. Alternative solutions to the UN dual strategy will be discussed with focus on sustainability and universalism. As a theoretical fundament, the thesis discusses the view of gender-specific regulation in feminist legal theory in relation to theories on universality. The conflict between women’s particular human rights needs and universalism is discussed. As an example of the UN dual strategy, protection of women prisoners is used. Prisoners were previously protected in an instrument with an explicitly male perspective, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR). In 2010 a women specific instrument, the Bangkok Rules, was added to enhance the protection of women prisoners. This was followed by an updated version of the SMR, the Mandela Rules, where the perspective of women prisoners was partly included. This example is analyzed from the theoretical perspective of feminist legal theory and universalism. A conclusion is that permanent gender-specific human rights instruments are problematic both from a feminist perspective and in relation to universalism, it risks devaluing the concept of universality and contributing to gender stereotypes. The thesis also brings up a more general discussion on the lack of theoretical framework for the UN human rights protection. Even though the main role of the UN is more pragmatic human rights work, a lack of theoretical justification for the human rights framework can lead to a weak and unsustainable system. (Less)
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author
Törnqvist, Tora LU
supervisor
organization
course
JAMM04 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Human Rights, Women's Rights, Universalism, Women Prisoners, Gender-specific Regulations, The Bangkok Rules, The Mandela Rules
language
English
id
8890074
date added to LUP
2016-08-31 11:19:09
date last changed
2016-08-31 11:19:09
@misc{8890074,
  abstract     = {When founding the modern human rights protection, the UN did to a great extent have focus on protecting men and men’s rights, even though one of the core principles of human rights is their universality. Over the past few decades work has been done to include women’s perspectives in the human rights protection. The UN has chosen a dual strategy, where women’s rights are both protected in gender-specific instruments and mainstreamed into general human rights documents. This thesis aims to bring a critical perspective to the theoretical discussion on women’s rights and universality. The research questions concerns gender-specific human rights regulation and its compatibility with the universality of human rights. Alternative solutions to the UN dual strategy will be discussed with focus on sustainability and universalism. As a theoretical fundament, the thesis discusses the view of gender-specific regulation in feminist legal theory in relation to theories on universality. The conflict between women’s particular human rights needs and universalism is discussed. As an example of the UN dual strategy, protection of women prisoners is used. Prisoners were previously protected in an instrument with an explicitly male perspective, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR). In 2010 a women specific instrument, the Bangkok Rules, was added to enhance the protection of women prisoners. This was followed by an updated version of the SMR, the Mandela Rules, where the perspective of women prisoners was partly included. This example is analyzed from the theoretical perspective of feminist legal theory and universalism. A conclusion is that permanent gender-specific human rights instruments are problematic both from a feminist perspective and in relation to universalism, it risks devaluing the concept of universality and contributing to gender stereotypes. The thesis also brings up a more general discussion on the lack of theoretical framework for the UN human rights protection. Even though the main role of the UN is more pragmatic human rights work, a lack of theoretical justification for the human rights framework can lead to a weak and unsustainable system.},
  author       = {Törnqvist, Tora},
  keyword      = {Human Rights,Women's Rights,Universalism,Women Prisoners,Gender-specific Regulations,The Bangkok Rules,The Mandela Rules},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Universalism vs Women's Rights: A critical discussion on gender-specific human rights regulation},
  year         = {2016},
}