The collected data comprises a variety of abstracts. The abstracts vary in the length (number of used characters); mean number of used characters is 1361, while the median is 1018 characters.Footnote 8 Considering the number of words, mean number of words used in abstracts is 207.8 while the median number of words is 150.Footnote 9 In total, analysis is based on 164,387 words across 1375 abstracts (Fig. 1).
As it can be expected, the most frequently used terms are “human” and “rights.” The term “rights” accounts for 2.9% while the term “human” accounts for 2.2% of all terms used in the abstracts. In accounting for distribution of the remaining terms, a selected set of additional words, assumed to be irrelevant, is excluded.Footnote 10 Considering the absolute frequency of the terms, the most frequent terms include the following: “international,” “political,” “law,” “state/s,” and “social.” Table 2 presents the ranking of the first 25 terms according their absolute and relative frequency.
A similar form of analysis is applied to bigrams (i.e., pairs of terms used together). The total number of bigrams across the abstracts is 135,537. As expected, the most frequently used bigram is “human rights” which accounts for approximately 2% of all bigrams. The set of most frequently used bigrams includes “international law,” “United Nations,” “transitional justice,” “social (and) cultural,” “economic (and) social,” and “civil society.” The following table presents 25 most frequently occurring bigrams (excluding “human rights”) (see Table 3).
The results of the frequency analysis of bigrams across categorization of rights are displayed in Table 4. The abstracts’ bigram frequency analysis demonstrates that the most discussed category of human rights in the period of 2000 to 2017 is the first generation or rights, which accounts for 336 abstracts in total. The second generation is discussed twice as less than the first (165 articles), and the third is somewhat less than the second (125 articles). However, the analysis shows that the number of abstracts devoted to the group rights is higher even than second-generation rights (174 articles). Finally, the number of articles which cannot be assigned to any generation of rights is 206. At the same time, it is important to mention that prescription of the abstracts to only one category may sometimes omit some important aspects since oftentimes the article may refer to rights from different categories simultaneously. A number of articles devoted equal space to multiple generations of rights. Most frequently articles combine discussion of the first generation of rights with other generations of rights. In this respect, the first and the second generations of rights are equally discussed in 14 articles; the first and the third generations of rights are equally discussed in 11 articles; the first generation of rights and group rights are discussed in 26 articles; and the first generation of rights and rights which cannot be categorized were discussed in 36 articles. Finally, our dictionary was not relevant for categorization of 216 articles.
In order to provide a more nuanced analysis, we also used the relative frequency of bigrams.Footnote 11 The relative bigram frequencies slightly differ from the absolute frequencies. Here, the first generation as well scores the highest (352 articles); however, it is followed not by the group rights (151 articles), but by the second generation of rights (221 articles). Finally, the third generation of right and the articles which cannot be categorized into any of the generations of rights are 183 and 253 articles, respectively.
The dominant bigrams in the first generation or rights are “civil society,” “war crimes,” “human dignity,” “death penalty,” “crimes (against) humanity,” “property rights,” “freedom of association,” and “religious freedom.” The most frequent bigrams in the second generation of rights are “economic social,” “cultural rights,” “labor rights,” “right (to) health,” “rights (to) education,” and “socioeconomic rights.” The most numerous bigrams in the third generation of rights are “self(-)determination,” “international (and) humanitarian,” “developing countries,” “peace process,” “development (of) human,” and “economic development.” On the other hand, in the category of group rights, some of the most frequently used bigrams are “women’s rights,” “indigenous peoples,” “children’s rights,” “minority rights,” “LGBT rights,” and “racial discrimination.” Finally, some of the bigrams which are characteristic for the group of bigrams which were not classified in any of the previous classes of rights are “transitional justice,” “truth commissions,” “human trafficking,” “displaced persons,” “anti(-)trafficking,” and “migrant smuggling” (we will discuss this category in detail below).
Next, we have examined the distribution of generation of right across time. Figure 2 demonstrates that across years 2000–2017, by and large, the distribution of bigrams across generations of rights is fairly stable. Naturally, there is some variation in a number of bigrams across the time. However, overall, the pattern seems to be invariable in that dominant category is the first generation of rights, followed by the category of groups of rights. The least frequently addressed topics in the articles are the second generation of rights and the third generation of rights (see Fig. 2).
Nevertheless, a closer look at the distribution of abstracts across times provides some indication that in the last two decades, generation 1 rights are gradually playing a less important role in human rights debates (see Fig. 3). However, the variation across years is quite substantial providing no certainty with respect to the hypothesized declining trend.
The most important area of the present research, however, refers to the bigrams which could not be categorized in any of the aforementioned four categories of rights. On the basis of the qualitative explorative analysis, we have determined that uncategorized bigrams exhaustively refer to the rights connected to the following: transition, security and terrorism, migration, sanctions, warfare, eugenics and science, and identity. Furthermore, since the transition category was quite broad and embraced multiple aspects of this process, we created additional subcategories referring to the following: transition and democratization, history and memory, and transitional justice (including reconciliation, forgiveness, and retributions).
Then, the category of migration embraced the different aspects of immigration and migrants’ rights. Though one might argue that those rights should be considered a part of the first generation, we concluded that those topics do not directly address first-generation rights, unlike, for example, the rights of asylum seekers.
Next, the identity category stands quite close to group rights as well as cultural rights of the second generation. Yet still, we decided not to lump it together with those due to the fact that even though it clearly refers to distinct groups, it does not identify specific rights to be protected. Hence, it includes such topics as national identity, traditional values, multiculturalism, and ethnonational.
Finally, the warfare category also deserves further deliberation. It embraces the topics, which do not fit either into the third-generational sphere of humanitarianism, or into mass atrocities, with unambiguous violation of the right to life. Instead, they broadly refer to conflicts of national or international concern. Thus, such topics as armed conflicts, civil wars, military intervention, and guerrilla warfare were placed into the warfare category.
The articles used in the analysis predominantly address the category of transition rights (176 articles in terms of absolute frequency). Within the category of transition rights, the class of rights which concerns the transitional justice is by far the most predominant category with 107 articles in absolute terms (see Table 5).
Considering the other types of rights from the group of uncategorized bigrams, warfare is the most discussed class of rights with 87 and 110 articles in terms of absolute and relative frequencies, respectively. This category is followed by the class of migration rights with 52 and 50 articles in terms of absolute and relative frequencies, respectively. Other classes of rights are not as present in the articles. Nevertheless, there is evidence of a somewhat more significant presence of the topics of identity, and security and terrorism (see Table 6).
Considering the most dominant class of rights, the most frequent bigrams belong to the category of transitional justice. By far the most frequently used bigram is “transitional justice” followed by “truth commission/s” and “truth (and) reconciliation.” Considering the class of history and memory from the transition category of rights, the most frequently used bigrams are “cultural relativism,” “truth telling,” “politics (of) memory,” and “post(-)colonial.” Finally, considering the class of transition and democratization, the most frequently used bigrams are as follows: “democratic transition,” “transitional societies,” and “political transition.”
With respect to the other types of rights, as mentioned above, four categories stand out: warfare, migration, identity, and security and terrorism. The most frequently used terms with respect to warfare class of rights are “armed conflict/s,” “civil war,” “armed forces,” “political violence,” “military intervention,” “civilian population/s,” and “ethnic conflict.” On the other hand, considering the migration class of rights, the most frequently used bigrams are “regulating immigration,” “irregular immigrants,” “migrant workers,” and “migrants rights.” With respect to the class of identity rights, the most frequently used bigrams are as follows: “traditional values,” “national identity,” “Islamic identity,” and “Muslim communities.” Finally, considering the class of security and terrorism, the most frequently used bigrams are “War (on) Terror,” “anti-terrorist,” and “terrorist violence.”