Human Rights: A Fragile Hegemony
Boaventura de Sousa Santos
Crépeau, Françoisande Sheppard, Colleen, Human Rights and Diverse Societies: Challenges and Possibilities. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 17-25.

This is no question today about the hegemony of human rights as the discourse of human dignity. Nonetheless, such hegemony faces a disturbing reality.  The large majority of the world population is not the subject of human rights. They are rather the object of human rights discourses. the question is, then, whether human rights are efficacious in helping the struggles of the excluded, the exploited and the discriminated against, or whether, on the contrary, they make them more difficult. In other words, is the hegemony claimed by human rights today is the outcome of a historical victory, or rather, a historical defeat? Regardless of the reply given to the previous questions, the truth is that, since they are the hegemonic discourse of human dignity, human rights are insurmountable. This explains why oppressed social groups cannot help but ask the following question: even if human rights are a part of the selfsame hegemony that consolidates and legitimates their oppression, could they be used to subvert it? In other words, can human rights be used in a counter hegemonic way? If so, how? These two questions lead on to two others. Why is there so much unjust suffering that is not considered a violation of human rights? What other discourses of human dignity are thee in the world and to what extent are they compatible with human rights discourses? >READ FULL CHAPTER