Citizenship and human rights in the age of globalization
Alternatives: Social Transformation and Humane Governance, 26, (1)
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At the heart of the historic struggle over legitimate universal human rights are two questions: What kind of rights? and whom do they benefit? The standard answer to the first question is that lists of legitimate human rights can be found within the pages of international law, and to the second that these rights offer protection to the disempowered, the vulnerable, and the weak from governments and other powerful actors. This article attempts to examine this standard answer from the perspective of the international political economy. It argues that far from offering protection to those unable to protect themselves, the once subversive idea of human rights is now used to lend legitimacy to the practices of powerful global economic actors. In particular, the emphasis on individualism and limited government, which civil and political freedoms support, has seen the rich accumulate an even greater share of wealth and resources and offered a justification for withdrawing welfare and social entitlements from the poor. 
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