City Research Online

The Urban Politics of Human Rights Practice

Fernandez-Wulff, P. and Yap, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-8629-2360 (2020). The Urban Politics of Human Rights Practice. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 12(2), pp. 409-427. doi: 10.1093/jhuman/huaa019


Social movement organizations are increasingly developing human rights strategies at the municipal level, particularly in European urban contexts. Yet critical scholarly work on human rights has overlooked two related realities: non-state-centric, social movement use of the tools and discourses of rights, and the strategic participation of citizen groups in municipal urban policy spaces. This article builds on critical human rights theory through the experiences of three grassroots organizations claiming and exercising social rights in urban policy spaces of Barcelona, Valladolid, and London. It engages with a number of scholarly critiques of the state and human rights, particularly focusing on those critiques that question their compatibility with autonomy, democracy, and self-government at the local level. While the value of such critical literature is undeniable, we show how urban grassroots practices and experiences with social rights-based strategies in the context of housing, water, and participation can circumvent some of these critiques on the ground, pointing at new avenues for critical legal research when infused with other critical discourses, including urban politics.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Human Rights Practice following peer review. The version of record Fernandez-Wulff, P. and Yap, C. (2020). The Urban Politics of Human Rights Practice. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 12(2), pp. 409-427 is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: citizen mobilization; human rights critiques; municipal policy; social rights; urban politics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Date available in CRO: 16 Sep 2021 10:42
Date deposited: 16 September 2021
Date of first online publication: 18 August 2020
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 18 August 2022 due to copyright restrictions.

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