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Prof. George Andreopoulos

Prof. Dr. Carsten Momsen


Transatlantic Forum


“New Challenges - New Rights”?



    This project is a joint undertaking of the Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY and the Department of Comparative Criminal Law, Criminal Procedural Law and Corporate Criminal Law - Department of Law at the Free University of Berlin.


    Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the rights universe has grown exponentially and the rights discourse has been mainstreamed into key issue areas of social and political life to such an extent that several analysts have argued that human rights “have attained the status of a lingua franca of global moral discourse” (Beitz and Goodin, 2009). Yet, despite their discursive success, human rights have been confronted with a series of challenges. Some of these challenges are the result of the widely held belief that human rights are part and parcel of the liberal international order. The end of the cold war was to signal the triumph of liberal democracy, human rights, and international cooperation to address common threats. Yet, as subsequent developments were to demonstrate, the Cold War was not replaced by some neat, consistent new world order: civil strife and ethnic cleansing erupted in several states; the structural adjustment programs of international financial institutions failed and some semi-peripheral and poor states pushed back against neoliberal policy strictures; speculative crises in finance deepened inequality both within and among states; religious fundamentalism attained global reach; climate change raised critical questions about the viability of our planet; growing numbers of people, displaced by war, climate change, political corruption, and the overall erosion of decent life prospects, sought a better life through migration; and, not least, new political coalitions and activisms, partly enabled by the internet and digital communications, promised a renewed era of populist energy and an alternative ‘promised path’ to those left behind by the forces and processes of globalization. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

    This is part though of the human rights predicament. The human rights community has been rather slow in addressing the challenges posed by new developments in the Biosciences and in Artificial Intelligence (AI); developments that have raised the stakes for effective responses to their potentially adverse human rights implications. For example, when biotechnology can alter the genetic code, whose rights are being violated, and what are the possible remedies? Likewise, taking into consideration that AI systems are increasingly used in a variety of critical areas that include hiring decisions, identification of suspects in the criminal justice system and target selection in military operations, how do these developments impact privacy, digital identity, right to understanding of decision-making in computer programming and due process?

    The purpose of this forum is to examine these challenges, their growing intersections, and critically discuss the capacity of the human rights discourse to provide effective and sustainable responses.  Some of the key focal issues and questions to be addressed include:

  • How has the erosion of the liberal international order affected human rights?

  • Advantages and shortcomings of current models of human rights advocacy

  • What can the human rights discourse learn from social justice-related discourses, whether secular or religious?

  • What are the main human rights issues that developments in the Biosciences and AI raise?

  • Does the rising interference of private entities (software companies et al) in governmental decision-making processes require a new adjustment of human rights addressees?

  • Do we need new rights, or a reconceptualization of existing rights?

  • If new rights are needed, in which areas are they needed and why?


Below is the list of upcoming events:

October 26, 2021 @ 1:30 pm EDT

"Making a Rioter: Social Media's Role in Planning and Inciting Civil Unrest and Violent Protests"

Dr. Alexander Heinze, LL.M. (TCD), Ass.Prof. University of Göttingen School of Law

Discussant: Dr. Marie-Michelle Strah, Visiting Scholar, CIHR and Adjunct Professor of International Crime and Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

November 10, 2021 @ 1:30 pm EST

"Freedom from Systemic Official Corruption: a Human Right?"

Dr. Andrew Spalding, Professor of Law at University of Richmond School of Law

December 1, 2021 @ 1:30 pm EST

"Providing Security in the 21st Century: a Human Rights Challenge?"

Dr. Anneke Petzsche, Senior Researcher and Lecturer in Law at the Humboldt University of Berlin

March 22

"(Un-)knowing the Human in Somatic Surveillance: Thoughts on Expectations, Ignorance & Uncertainty when Considering Biometric Human Rights"

Dr. Matthias Wienroth, Vice-Chancellor's Senior Fellow/Lecturer, Centre for Crime & Policing - Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Further details and registration information to follow

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