Who is the subject of human rights?

Anna Yeatman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


What is distinctive about human rights, when compared with the rights claims associated with modern citizenship, animals, or nonbiological units of conscious being (artificial intelligence)? It is suggested that each of these discourses constitutes the subject of rights differently. This article concentrates on both philosophical and psychological means of registering the unique individuality of the subject of human rights. Because human rights is predicated of all human beings, it is a universal discourse and one that Kant called "cosmopolitan right." The subject of human rights is also the subject in its existential integrity or wholeness. This article explores tensions between the subject of human rights and the jurisdictionally limited and exclusive subject of modern citizenship, tensions that pose new demands on states with respect to international law and standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1498-1513
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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