Identity, Belonging and Human Rights (Brill, 2019), 149-157

Among the most popular, yet least well-justified assumptions of practitioners and academics alike, is that human rights can always make positive contributions to the building of peace in ethnically divided, post-conflict societies. Any explanations for their disappointing peacebuilding effects in practice have to do, not with human rights per se, but with their non-implementation on the ground. This chapter challenges this assumption by arguing that while non-implementation is a problem that peacebuilders should address, human rights as peacebuilding tools also suffer from two inherent limitations as well. The first concerns the fact that their implementation might protect the individual applicant’s interests while failing to produce any beneficial peacebuilding effects for the society at large. The second limitation arises because even when human rights lead to peace-inducing measures, these always relate to legal and institutional amendments. Their contribution is therefore in itself insufficient because, in addition to such amendments, peace also requires that political, socio-economic and psychological changes take place in the society in question.

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