Since World War II, a major element of globalization has involved the expansion of human rights norms, rules, and institutions. This broad movement represents a dramatic shift from earlier emphases on the rights and duties of citizens of national states. The human rights movement stresses universal and global rights, and the general responsibility to support these rights anywhere in the world, independent of national sovereignty boundaries. This research project focuses both on the expansion of the human rights movement at the global level and the impact of the movement on national states and societies around the world.
Research studies in the program track, and attempt to account for, the rapid expansion of human rights treaties, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and popular and professional discourse advocating human rights. The studies also track the rapid expansion of the substantive rights involved, from simple principles of protection and due process to greatly expanded human rights to active cultural and political participation and self-expression. And the studies track the expansion, over the whole post-War period, of the groups particularly emphasized in the human rights movement women, children, older people, indigenous people, poor people, handicapped people, gay and lesbian people, and members of all sorts of religious and ethnic minorities.
Since 1970, the world human rights movement has expanded its earlier focus on the legal protections of the individual person, to a more empowered and empowering focus on human rights education. And studies in the program now focus heavily on the expansion worldwide of human rights education.