Expansion of the concept of human rights: Impact on rights promotion and protection

Study 20-03-2018

This report summarises the proceedings of a workshop organised by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI). Academics, representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) discussed the potential positive and negative impacts of the expansion of the human rights concept on the lives of individuals. Some of the invited experts underlined that human rights have always evolved in response to changing historical contexts and that, despite some potential negative effects, empirical evidence suggests that the benefits of their expansion largely outweigh the costs. Others argued that certain expansions can have the effect of diluting the human rights system altogether and can be instrumental for states willing to undermine core civil and political rights and to avoid scrutiny of their own violations. Finally, the EEAS outlined the EU’s action on human rights protection and promotion around the globe and highlighted that the EU’s priority is to continue to exercise leadership and unity on human rights matters in multilateral fora.