International Conference: The Global Challenge of Human Rights Integration-Towards a Users’ Perspective

On 9-11 December 2015, the Human Rights Integration network organized an international conference to explore the foundations and implications of human rights fragmentation and integration.


As a political and ethical project, human rights are one, indivisible and universal. As law however, they are fragmented. Human rights law today is characterized by the simultaneous existence of a large variety of norms, developed by numerous actors, at different geographical levels, addressing similar or different topics, individuals and groups. As a result, human rights scholarship often focuses on one or more specific rights, target groups or jurisdictions, which in turn  contributes to creating a fragmented, compartmentalized view of human rights law. However, rights holders, duty bearers and other ‘users’ of human rights are confronted simultaneously with multiple layers of human rights law, amongst which there is generally little coordination. For justice seekers, the complex architecture of human rights may create opportunities as well as obstacles.

The starting proposition of the conference organizers is that it is highly relevant for human rights scholars to add an integrated perspective of human rights law to our work. This implies studying not only separate norms or mechanisms, but also their simultaneous application, what that implies for the users of human rights law, and how these users deal with that reality. The conference intends to facilitate a dialogue among legal and socio-legal perspectives on human rights fragmentation and integration. Through this dialogue, the conceptual, theoretical and methodological foundations of human rights fragmentation and integration will be refined and the  legal and practical implications of human rights fragmentation and integration will be studied.


Track 1 – Theorizing fragmentation and integration in human rights law
Track 2 – Convergence and divergence within international human rights law
Track 3 – Convergence and divergence between national and international human rights law
Track 4 – Convergence and divergence between international human rights law and other branches of international law
Track 5 – Human rights are useless/useful


See below under "attachments" for (i) the general programme, (ii) the programme of the panel sessions, (iii) the abstracts of the papers.


Prof. Antoine Bailleux (Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles)
Prof. Eva Brems (Ghent University)
Prof. Emmanuelle Bribosia (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Prof. Koen De Feyter (University of Antwerp)
Prof. Paul De Hert (Vrije Universiteit Brussels)
Dr. Ellen Desmet (Ghent University / University of Antwerp)
Prof. Yves Haeck (Ghent University)
Prof. Barbara Oomen (Utrecht University)
Prof. Isabelle Rorive (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Prof. Stefaan Smis (Free University of Brussels)
Prof. Wouter Vandenhole (University of Antwerp)
Prof. Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck (Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles)


Submission of abstracts was due by 15 May 2015. Feedback on the abstracts was provided by 30 June 2015. Papers (max. 10.000 words) were due by 15 November 2015. A selection of papers will be published in international peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.


The conference took place in the city of Ghent.
Venue: Het Pand, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.