Human rights and the European Union : the irony of a bifurcated narrative
Williams, Andrew Trevor (2002) Human rights and the European Union : the irony of a bifurcated narrative. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Human rights remain an ambiguous and complex subject in the European Union.
Although the instances of policies involving human rights issues have attained an
increasing presence over the past thirty years there has been an institutional
reluctance to mould a unified human rights policy worthy of the name. However, the
EU's human rights practices have not been constructed in a wholly random way.
They have evolved within discrete policy realms along coherent narrative lines.
Specifically they have followed a bifurcated pattern. Internally, human rights are
contingent. They are often referred to as "fundamental rights" signifying an
underlying conception that owns a restricted definition based on a distinct European
heritage. Scrutiny is erratic even casual. Enforcement is left to the Courts and other
agencies. Externally, the story is different. Human rights are broad in concept.
Collective notions of rights are adopted. Scrutiny can be intrusive and effective.
Systems of enforcement, increasingly severe in scope and strength, have been
Despite the extent of this internal/external bifurcation, little academic or institutional
attention has been paid to the subject. This thesis attempts to rectify the omission. In
analysing the history of the EU's human rights stories, it details the extent of the
bifurcation phenomenon and reveals the genesis of its central discriminatory
practice. It claims that by failing to address human rights in its early period other
than in mythical terms the EU's discourse provided an environment whereby rights
became implicated in the representation of European identity as superior and non-
Europe as morally and ethically deficient. EU human rights practice developed with
this key understanding imbedded in its narrative structure. A sense of irony,
provoked by double-standards and discrimination, thus accompanies the EU's rights
discourse rendering the EU's role in rights action suspect and the prospects for one
unified policy remote.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||K Law > KJ-KKZ European law|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||European Union , Human rights -- European Union countries|
|Official Date:||April 2002|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Law|
|Extent:||iii, 315 leaves|
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