Hardin’s One for All: Insights for Human Rights
This chapter reflects on the implications of Russell Hardin’s analysis of subjective group identification and the logic of group conflict for the work of human rights practitioners. After briefly recalling key elements in Hardin’s argument, the author posits that human rights work, often perceived as an idealistic undertaking, has an underlying strategic logic like that which One for All would lead us to expect. The fundamental goal of human rights work is to change existing societal coordination points in keeping with universalist rights norms. Human rights education seeks to shape the content of the knowledge from which people act, while the law-building approach, and efforts to create enforcement mechanisms including sanctions, work both to consolidate and strengthen rights norms, and to raise the costs of non-compliance. Hardin’s analysis of the dynamics of group conflict also has prescriptive implications for intervening to prevent or end violent conflict, by pointing to institutional and policy changes that have the potential to change the incentives groups face.
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