Gilabert, Pablo (2009). "Humanist vs. Political Conceptions of Human Rights" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.
This paper arbitrates the current debate between two conceptions of human rights. According to the associativist, or others call it, political, conception, human rights are primarily claims that human beings have against certain institutional agencies, in particular states. According to the humanist conception, human rights are primarily claims that human beings have against all other human beings as such. The humanist view does not deny the importance of institutions to promote or violate human rights, but it sees their significance and role as largely instrumental. This paper defends the humanist view by proposing an articulation of human rights in terms of the capability approach. Such approach also helps, however, to identify and absorb some important intuitions on which the associativist conception relies.