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The ECHR and the universal protection of human rights

Course video 12 of 18

Open societies are all about inclusion. In an open society, everyone should be allowed to participate on an equal footing. No one should be excluded. Equally, human rights should be enjoyed by all people and discrimination is prohibited. Yet, even in an open society, universality of human rights and the prohibition of discrimination may raise many questions. For example, what about the rights of people who are not (yet) citizens of that society, such as asylum seekers? On the one hand, asylum seekers find themselves in the extremely difficult and vulnerable position of being in transit. For that reason, their needs deserve extra consideration. For example, they may need special protection against hostile responses by the local population, they may need food, education and housing, and they must be protected against discrimination. On the other hand, not being citizens, the question is often raised to what extent they should be included and benefit from the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights. Finding the right balance and solving such dilemmas is crucial in open societies. In this week, we focus on (1) the rights and freedoms of insiders and outsiders under the European Convention, (2) non-discrimination and (3) the protection of vulnerable groups. To illustrate, we pay special attention to the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as of other minority groups.

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