[The 2017 Seoul Conference on Human Rights]
Date: May 30th 2017, Tue | 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Venue: #214 International Studies Hall at Korea University
Links for pre-registration: http://bit.ly/2raPImp
For the last decade or so, the world has witnessed a worrisome phenomenon called “the pushback against human rights,” which refers to a related set of events and developments that resulted in a substantial weakening of the legitimacy of global human rights as a last utopia; national borders were tightened, aid-workers were harassed and expelled, pro-democracy voices were silenced, and LGBT communities were denied fundamental human rights. This new movement, undoubtedly, is global in character and its diffusive feature has emboldened authoritarian politicians and policy makers to further invoke national sovereignty and interests, paralyzing the muscles of the body of universal human rights and challenging the status of human rights as lingua franca. The centrifugal forces seem to start from the countries with authoritarian traits, yet also spread to new and consolidated democracies. Even in countries with rich democratic traditions, the media often expresses negativity towards and/or reservation on human rights which unduly shapes the public’s perceptions and attitudes. A case in point is Trumpism, which tends to transform a brick by brick movement into a massive tide of harassment.
The 2017 Seoul Conference on Human Rights seeks to address this pressing theme in world politics and global society. To do so, it brings together global human rights scholars with theoretical and methodological rigor as well as sensitivity towards policy solutions. This collective intelligence addresses the scope, causes, and consequences of the pushback against human rights with the goal of molding solutions. It starts with several keynote speeches demarcating the breath of the phenomenon and identifying causal linkages, followed by an intensive group discussion explicating its complexities and searching for possible solutions. The conference participants then reflect on substantive human rights issues that emerge and reemerge in local and global human rights politics. These include LGBT rights, women’s rights, business responsibility, educational opportunities, and environmentalism. The 2017 Seoul Conference on Human Rights aspires to debunk misperceptions, misguidance, and myths that collectively constitute the pushback or backlash against human rights and bring human rights one step closer to the status of universally yet locally relevant principles of humanity.