Under the supervision of Prof. Tine Destrooper , Sarah will analyze the relevance of a new human rights duty-bearer concept from a human rights users’ perspective. Her research forms part of the broader inter-university and multidisciplinary iBOF research project ‘Future-Proofing Human Rights: developing thicker forms of accountability´.
Current debates on human rights in crisis acknowledge that, if human rights are to continue to offer a widely accepted framework for thinking about (social) justice, there is an urgent need to reconstruct the very notion of accountability on which it is pinned. Ground-breaking work is happening in relation to the issue of the notion of duty bearers. Growing acceptance exists, both within legal scholarship, and beyond, which recognizes a territorial State as the sole duty bearer as myopic and increasingly out of sync with realities on the ground.
However, debates are routinely conducted from a legalistic or institutional point of view. To date, only a limited number of studies mapped the perspectives of rights-holders on who they perceive as legally accountable. Given that to further explore (the need for) the development of an effective, coherent and locally relevant multiple human rights duty-bearer framework, the realities, and voices of rights holders have to be taken into account, more empirical research from an actor-centered perspective seems necessary. While the overall aim is to explore how thicker accountability for human rights violations can be achieved, so as to ensure better human rights protection in line with the everyday experience of rights holders, Sarah’s project aims at a more fine-grained analysis of constitutive elements of local understandings on (alternative, supplementary) duty bearers.
Sarah’s research, although it is not directly affiliated to the Justice Visions project, also holds the ambition to broaden understandings of transitional justice narratives and practices in aparadigmatic contexts.