Human rights are increasingly described as being in crisis. But are human rights really on the verge of disappearing? Human Rights Transformation in Practice argues that it is certainly the case that human rights organizations in many parts of the world are under threat, but that the ideals of justice, fairness, and equality inherent in human rights remain appealing globally—and that recognizing the continuing importance and strength of human rights requires looking for them in different places. These places are not simply the Human Rights Council or regular meetings of monitoring committees but also the offices of small NGOs and the streets of poor cities.
In Human Rights Transformation in Practice, editors Tine Destrooper and Sally Engle Merry collect various approaches to the questions of how human rights travel and how they are transformed, offering a corrective to those perspectives locating human rights only in formal institutions and laws. Contributors to the volume empirically examine several hypotheses about the factors that impact the vernacularization and localization of human rights: how human rights ideals become formalized in local legal systems, sometimes become customary norms, and, at other times, fail to take hold. Case studies explore the ways in which local struggles may inspire the further development of human rights norms at the transnational level. Through these analyses, the essays in Human Rights Transformation in Practice consider how the vernacularization and localization processes may be shaped by different causes of human rights violations, the perceived nature of violations, and the existence of networks and formal avenues for information-sharing.