WP1. Theorizing the multilayered nature of human rights law (UU, ULB, USL-B)

Work package 1 theorizes and conceptualizes the multilayered nature of human rights law. The bottom-up approach of legal anthropology, expressing the empirical reality of multiple human rights norms and fora in terms of legal pluralism, will be confronted with a different empirical approach – ‘law as a network’ – as well as with approaches borrowed from legal philosophy that may serve to grasp the same reality. While the empirical approaches are mostly geared to explaining and analysing the facts on the ground, these other approaches are normative in nature, aimed at changing those same facts. Thus, both types of approaches are complementary. The concepts and theories of legal pluralism and of ‘law as a network’ will help unravel the complex architecture of human rights law, and the normative models will work towards streamlining that picture toward integrated human rights. Concept papers on these approaches will provide guidance as well as cohesion to all work packages within the project.

  1. Legal pluralism applied to human rights law (UU)


    Prof. Oomen will write a theoretical position paper connecting insights from the socio-scientific field of legal pluralism to research on the implementation of human rights. The cases to be discussed in the context of this research will be the rise of human rights cities throughout Europe, and perspectives ‘from below’ on the European Court of Human Rights.

  2. Network theory applied to human rights law (USL-B)


    The USL-B partner will draft a paper, applying the concept of ‘law as a network’ to human rights law. The paradigm of the ‘network’ (Ost and van de Kerchove 2002) is a descriptive one, rooted in a pluralistic vision of the law and connected to the notions of regulation and governance. It notably aims at describing recent phenomena which, in the normative relations taking place within a specific legal order or between different legal systems, do not fit with the ‘pyramidal‘ model traditionally used to describe such relations.

  3. Theoretical models supporting human rights integration (ULB)


    From a normative angle, the question of integration of human rights on the global level requires the elaboration of the possible models for such integration. The research carried out at ULB by professors Bribosia and Rorive, in close collaboration with professors Benoît Frydman and Gregory Lewkowicz of the Perelman Centre for Legal Philosophy, will aim to draft an inventory of the principal available theoretical models and to apply them to human rights law. They will sketch different scenarios for human rights integration, and isolate for each of them, the relevant instruments and procedural specificities.