HRI is an Interuniversity Attraction Pole (IAP) funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). It consists of Universiteit Gent (UGent), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Universiteit Antwerpen (UAntwerp), Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles (USL-B) & Universiteit Utrecht (UU).
Starting point of the research is the finding that both rights holders and duty bearers under human rights norms are confronted simultaneously with a multitude of human rights provisions differing as to their scope, focus, legal force and level of governance. This non-hierarchical accumulation of human rights provisions has resulted in a complex and unco-ordinated legal architecture that may in some circumstances create obstacles for effective human rights protection.
Central research objective
The central research objective of the network is the study of human rights law as an integrated whole from a users’ perspective.
A first research hypothesis concerns the relevance of concepts and theories from legal anthropology for an in-depth analysis of human rights law from the viewpoint of state authorities as well as rights holders. The concept of legal pluralism describes and analyses the multiplicity of forms of law present within a given social field. From that perspective, the research will map overlaps, conflicts and gaps in the architecture of human rights law, as well as users’ strategies to deal with them. In addition, theoretical insights from scholarship on legal pluralism will feed the network’s normative proposals, as may related theories such as the ‘théorie du droit en réseau’. Moreover, these empirical approaches will be confronted with traditional-legal normative approaches, that categorize potential models for legal integration, in an effort to identify a model that would fit the integration of human rights law.
A second research hypothesis states that the current lack of co-ordination between different spheres of human rights law creates obstacles leading to sub-optimal human rights protection, and that at least some of these can be removed or reduced. The research will identify the frictions that arise in the integrated experience of human rights, as well as existing good practice that alleviates such frictions.