What is the responsibility to respect human rights? Reconsidering the 'respect, protect, and fulfill' framework

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The world's understanding of the action needed to advance human rights is deeply structured by the 'respect, protect, and fulfill' framework. But its potential is significantly undermined by a narrow conception of 'respect' for human rights. This paper systematically addresses these weaknesses and advances an original alternative. It first provides a historical account of the 'do no harm' conception of 'respect' in the political context of the late Cold War. It then analyzes this conception's empirical functioning today, using the example of unauthorized migration along the US-Mexico border. These points illustrate an overarching theoretical argument: The responsibility to respect human rights should be based on a responsibility not to dehumanize, rather than exclusively on a duty to do no harm. This involves the consideration of each person as a moral equal, the elevation of human rights practice as a basis for judgment inside of a moral agent's self, and the rejection of state-centrism as the basis for all political responsibility. This argument has implications traversing the theory and practice of human rights, including: The ability to translate and embed into practice the new meanings of 'respect,' 'protect,' and 'fulfill'; and the need to re-consider the contemporary significance of 1980s liberalism.




Karp, D. J. (2020). What is the responsibility to respect human rights? Reconsidering the “respect, protect, and fulfill” framework. International Theory, 12(1), 83–108. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1752971919000198

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