Human Rights and Domination

Nicola Perugini, Neve Gordon


At the turn of the new millennium, a new phenomenon has emerged: conservatives who just decades before had rejected the expanding human rights culture began to embrace human rights in order to advance their own political goals. This accounts for how human rights - generally conceived as a counter-hegemonic instrument for righting historical injustices - are being deployed to subjugate the weak and legitimize domination. Using Israel/Palestine as its main case study, the article describes the establishment of settler NGOs that appropriate human rights to dispossess indigenous Palestinians. We outline the increasing convergences between liberal human rights NGOs, militaries, settler organizations, and extreme right nationalists, showing how radically different political actors champion the dissemination of human rights while mirroring each other’s political strategies. We demonstrate the multifaceted role this discourse is currently playing in the international arena: on the one hand, human rights have become the lingua franca of global moral speak, while on the other they have become a tool for enhancing domination.


Human rights; domination; settler colonialism; mirroring; Israel/Palestine

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Copyright (c) 2017 Nicola Perugini, Neve Gordon

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