Human Rights and Foreign Policy- 7th ISA Joint Human Rights Conference

Human Rights and Foreign Policy- 7th ISA Joint Human Rights Conference
14 June 2021, 9.00am - 16 June 2021, 7.00pm

We are pleased to announce that the seventh joint international conference on human rights, on the theme Human Rights and Foreign Policy, will take place from 14 to 16 June 2021 online (hosted by the Human Rights Consortium, University of London).

In light of geopolitical rebalancing of power, challenges to human rights from a number of quarters, and waning international support for human rights, the role of human rights in foreign policy requires urgent investigation. For human rights to thrive internationally, states need to support them not only domestically but also in their foreign policies, both in their bilateral relations and multilaterally. Yet, there is significant divergence of practice. Clear challenges appear in the policies of traditional supporters of human rights. This includes actions of the US administration on multiple fronts, as well as European states and the EU as a whole.

Whereas a certain set of middle powers have traditionally been supporters of human rights internationally, and have explicitly incorporated human rights into their foreign policies, emerging powers in the developing world represent a much more diverse set of actors and perspectives on human rights and international institutions which, while providing opportunities for new kinds of engagement, also pose significant challenges.

An overarching question for the conference is: in 2021, what does foreign policy support for human rights look like?

Questions to be addressed during the conference include:

  • Are the traditional supporters of human rights internationally changing their support?
  • What opportunities and challenges does the emergence of new regional and global powers provide?
  • What are the internal and external processes which drive state support (or not) for human rights internationally?
  • What theoretical approaches best explain human rights foreign policies?
  • How do material and ideational factors influence and shape human rights foreign policies?
  • What role do emerging powers play in driving (or constraining) human rights internationally, and what are the similarities and differences between their positions?
  • How do we situate international organisation actors like the European Union or the African Union which have some state-like characteristics internationally – or at least have such ambitions?
  • What role might sub-state political actors play in supporting human rights internationally?
  • How do transnational civil society networks affect state human rights foreign policies?
  • Are there divergences between states’ bilateral and multilateral human rights policies?
  • Can we identify a state of the art in empirical research on human rights-related foreign policy?

A full conference programme is available to view on the joint conference website.

  • 14 June: 12pm - 5.30pm BST
  • 15 June: 9am - 7pm BST
  • 16 June: 9am - 7pm BST

Registration: Participants can register via the website of the International Studies Association:

Please login to your account in order to register to attend. (ISA membership is not required for conference attendance, though you will need to create an account with if you have not already done so.)

Conference Fees:

  • General: USD 50 (GBP 36)
  • Student: USD 25 (GBP 18)


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