, Volume 47, Issue 1–2, pp 3–16 | Cite as

Disrupting power/entrenching sovereignty: The paradox of human rights education

  • A. Kayum Ahmed


While human rights education (HRE) provides the tools for emancipation, it remains susceptible to appropriation by authoritarian regimes who seek to entrench state power. Classification scholars who typologize approaches to HRE fail to acknowledge that state entities could employ human rights discourse to reinforce state sovereignty. Consequently, this article develops the idea of HRE as sovereignty, to describe states that employ human rights language to reinforce power, and HRE as disruption, to acknowledge the existence of social justice movements that operate outside legally based human rights frameworks to challenge state power. Furthermore, the article argues that HRE as sovereignty and disruption has its genesis in the global South, primarily as a response to the universalizing mission embedded in global human rights discourse.


Human rights education Sovereignty Disruption 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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