A New Beginning for Human Rights?*

Source: From the author's book A Philosophical Introduction to Human Rights (CUP 2020)

Thomas Mertens

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen



The Dark Side of Human Rights!
The End/The Endtimes of Human Rights!
Not Enough!

These are the alarming titles of some recent books on human rights. And indeed, for those who believe in human rights, the world looks grim. The rise of authoritarian, populist leaders and the decay of the rule of law; the strengthening of state borders, and not only since Covid-19 or the 2015 refugee crisis; the criticisms that courts such as the Strasbourg Human Rights Court increasingly face; the degradation of humanity’s habitat as a result of what is now called the Anthropocene. All these developments suggest that the heyday of human rights is over and that we are approaching a post-human rights era.