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Human rights and root causes

Marks, Susan (2011) Human rights and root causes. Modern Law Review, 74 (1). pp. 57-78. ISSN 0026-7961

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1468-2230.2010.00836.x


The human rights movement has traditionally focused on documenting abuses, rather than attempting to explain them. In recent years, however, the question of the 'root causes' of violations has emerged as a key issue in human rights work. The present article examines this new (or newly insistent) discourse of root causes. While valuable, it is shown to have significant limitations. It foreshortens the investigation of causes; it treats effects as though they were causes; and it identifies causes only to put them aside. With these points in mind, the article counterposes an alternative approach in which the orienting concept is not root causes, but 'planned misery'.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 The Author and Modern Law Review
Divisions: Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2011 09:15
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:51

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