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Through a Glass, Darkly: Three Important Conversations for Human Rights Professionals

Thursday, August 29, 2019


Kroc School Associate Professor Dustin Sharp contributed an article to the Journal of Human Rights Practice in July 2019 entitled "
Through a Glass, Darkly: Three Important Conversations for Human Rights Professionals."

The abstract is below, and the full article can be viewed here


The current moment in history is marked by a sense of anxiety about the future of human rights as a global project. In many instances, human rights pessimism has eclipsed a larger empirical picture of human rights progress. In assessing this paradox of perception, I argue that human rights professionals themselves contribute to this sense of pessimism and crisis in ways that can become counterproductive and demobilizing. Promoting a more positive and balanced human rights vision reflecting both progress and challenges will require several shifts in emphasis over the coming years, beginning with some neglected conversations for the broader field of human rights. These conversations relate to (1) an assessment of the ways in which the prism of professional experience has shaped the messaging and world view of human rights advocates; (2) the role of human rights critics in promoting new thinking and reform; and (3) the need for advocates to go beyond what I call the ‘legalistic referee model’ in their attempts to promote positive change.


Justin Prugh
(619) 260-7573

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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