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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 10: The indivisibility of human rights

 Constitutional scholars generally distinguish among three major categories of human rights – classical liberties (status negativus), political rights (status activus) and rights to state benefits (status positivus). However, the position of each of these categories in the national constitutions and in international documents is not identical. Accordingly, classical liberties and political rights have had a long tradition and rather satisfactory means of protection. In contrast, rights to state benefits have been guaranteed only subsequently. They are usually called second generation rights. In the meantime, such rights have been complemented by so called third generation rights, such as the rights to environment and to solidarity.

After World War II, the importance of second and third generation rights has increased considerably both at the level of national constitutional law and at the level of international protection of human rights. Nevertheless, the means of protection of these new rights is significantly different compared to classical liberties that merely require state abstention from interference. As a result, constitutional scholars call into question the status of second generation rights as true “rights” and examine their relationship with first generation rights and possible situations of conflict.

Against this backdrop, this workshop will explore the following issues:

  • The status of the indivisibility of human rights – Is the indivisibility of human rights part of a general theory of fundamental rights or rather a principle of positive constitutional/international law? In the latter case, do national Constitutions and international texts recognize this principle, implicitly or explicitly, or rather do they opt for a model of protection that is exclusively oriented towards classical liberties and political rights?
  • The scope of the indivisibility of human rights – Does the indivisibility of human rights concern all individual rights or is it limited to certain categories, such as social rights, rights constitutionally entrenched or the rights of citizens?
  • The autonomy of the indivisibility of human rights – Is the indivisibility of human rights an autonomous principle or does it emanate from other principles of constitutional or international law such as human dignity, the universalism of human rights or even equality before the law?
  • The consequences of the indivisibility of human rights – Does the recognition of the indivisibility of human rights provoke conflicts among different constitutional and international norms? Which rules govern the resolution of such conflicts? Do national Constitutions and international treaties directly rule the issue or merely doctrinal constructions developed by judicial bodies?

All these and similar questions can be addressed either from the perspective of national and comparative constitutional law or from the perspective of the international protection of human rights at both universal and regional levels. Particular emphasis will be placed on the practice of the organs charged with the implementation of constitutional and international documents. The indivisibility of human rights implies also the indivisibility and diversity of approaches presented in this workshop!

Professors Julia Iliopoulos-Strangas [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Cho Byung-Yoon [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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