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Dissertation 17.10.2019: A new study sheds light on the politics in the formation of the right to development concept at the United Nations (Boilard)

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MA Marie-Christine Boilard defends her doctoral dissertation in political science "Debating Development as a Human Right: a conceptual history of the politics in the formation of the right to development at the United Nations".

Marie-Christine Boilard
Marie-Christine Boilard

In her dissertation, Marie Christine Boilard offers a rhetorical analysis of a conceptual shift in the understanding of the relationship between development and human rights at the United Nations, which resulted in the recognition of the right to development as a human right.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that, contrary to common belief, the UN concept of the right to development as a human right is not the result of rational consensus-formation. In other words, the concept did not gain acceptance among UN member states following careful consideration and deliberation. On the contrary, the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) recognized it rather quickly after its introduction in the debate over the realization of economic, social and cultural rights and special problems relating to human rights in developing countries.

At the heart of her study is a UNCHR resolution passed without opposition in 1977, which included “the right to development as a human right” in its key concepts. The study aims to render intelligible the formation of that concept and its collective assertion by states as a rhetorical redescription (indebted to the work of Quentin Skinner), drawing attention along the way to the role of particular actors and events in bringing about this conceptual change.

To that aim, the analysis proceeds on two levels. One consists in a study of relevant debates between representatives of member states at the UNCHR, from the end of the 1960s to the second half of the 1970s. On that level, the analytical narrative emphasizes the various shifts in the political constellations of these debates, including shifts within and between geopolitical blocs.

The other includes the writings of those innovating ideologists who have served as special rapporteurs or initiators of resolutions relevant to the subject matter of this study at the UNCHR. On that level, the narrative emphasizes the arguments used by these innovating ideologists in the debates to justify the acceptance of certain resolutions or proposals. It also draws attention to the work of reflection conducted outside of the UNCHR by these innovating ideologists on the concepts of development and human rights.

By combining the two levels of analysis, the narrative reveals how these innovating ideologists were able to launch novel expressions and formulations at the UNCHR and to persuade member state representatives to accept them, albeit with varying degrees of success, at various stages of the debates.

 

MA Marie-Christine Boilardin valtio-opin väitöskirjan "Debating Development as a Human Right: a conceptual history of the politics in the formation of the right to development at the United Nations" tarkastustilaisuus.

Vastaväittäjänä professori Lena Halldenius (Lunds universität) ja kustoksena professori emeritus Kari Palonen. Väitöstilaisuuden kieli on englanti.


Aika: 17.10.2019 12:00 — 15:00
Paikka: Seminaarinmäki, S212


Marie Christine Boilard holds a Master of Arts in International Studies from Aarhus University, Denmark. Along with Claudia Wiesner and Evgeny Roshchin, she has edited the book In Debate with Kari Palonen: Concepts, Politics, Histories (Nomos, 2015). She has also co-authored a book chapter with Søren Friis, “Development Revisited: The Concept of Development as Space/Time Practice in the Postwar Era” (Palgrave, forthcoming). She is currently working as an advisor for the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). 

The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Dissertations, number134, 351p., Jyväskylä 2019, ISSN: 2489-9003, ISBN: 978-39-7850-1. It is available at the University’s Library Digital Repository (JYX). The permanent address to the publication is http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7850-1.

For further information: 

Marie Christine Boilard
Doctoral student
Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy
marie.c.boilard@student.jyu.fi

Marke Rissanen
Communication trainee
marke.s.k.rissanen@jyu.fi

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Marie-Christine Boilard
Marie-Christine Boilard
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