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Human Rights Justifications - HR Just

Research project
Active research
Project size
Project period
2023 - 2026
Project owner
Maria Grahn-Farley

Short description

HR Just examines how States use Human Rights Justifications to explain and defend their actions and decisions.

3 million Euros – Horizon EU Funded
REA.C – Future Society, C.1.- Inclusive Society
Project 101094346 – HR Just

Project overview

Human Rights Justification (HR Just) is when States use human rights to explain and defend their decision and actions. HR Just aim to examine the consequences of when States use human rights as a governance instrument. Human rights justification is different from how the post world war design of human rights as a system of legal norms regulating states behaviour towards its citizens is intended to be used. The post world war system is a binary system based on States compliance and violation of human rights, not of States using human rights as a governance tool. 

When States use human rights to justify their actions and decisions, the function of the human rights regime is renegotiated. It switches from seeing the individual as the rights holder and the State as the possible violator of individual rights to an instrument legitimising the actions of the State. 

We propose that the consequences of Human Rights Justifications for the individual human rights protection against State violations must be identified and evaluated.

The risk is that international and constitutional legal development has not kept up with the political use of Human Rights Justifications. Law still sees human rights in the light of the binary compliance and violation, while States use them as governance instruments, leading to possible gaps in the individual human rights protection.

Land studies

The study takes place across several land studies, for example: Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, and Taiwan; they all share that they are located in the shadow of neighbors with expansionist ambitions. We will study how the geopolitical location affects the States use of Human Rights Justifications.


We will do this through three themes: Covid, Migration and Climate, with the support of a theory development for addressing Human Rights Justification.


University of Gothenburg (Sweden)
University of Helsinki (Finland)
Academia Sinica (Taiwan)
Universiteit van Amsterdam (Netherland)
Universita Degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata (Italy)
Universita Degli Studi di Trento (Italy)
University of Haifa (Israel)
Ustav Mezinarodnich Vztahu V.V.I. (Czech Republic)
National Cheng Kung University (Taiwan)
National Taiwan University (Taiwan)
Stockholms Universitet (Sweden)
Universiteit Maastricht (Netherlands)
University of Bern (Schweiz)

Funded by the EU