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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

International human rights law and practice reveal an ambivalent approach to the personal scope of human rights: human rights are often less equal or general than they claim and are claimed to be. The inequalities of human rights are of two kinds: some vulnerable individuals are also protected by special rights, thus drawing an internal boundary within the scope of human rights-holders, while others have limited or no human rights at all, thus delineating an external boundary around the scope of human rights-holders. This chapter presents an argument that fits and justifies the core of the practice of international human rights law regarding the scope of human rights-holders, while criticizing it at the same time for some of its contradictions. More specifically, it argues for an egalitarian reading of human rights, before accounting on that basis for the humanity-based, capacity-related, and individualistic boundaries of human rights, on the one hand, and defending it against the tendency to expand the scope of special rights beyond what it refers to as justified “non-discriminatory rights” and “developing rights,” on the other.

Keywords: human rights, human rights-holder, inequality, capacity-related, individualistic, egalitarian

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