Kissack, Robert (2009) What’s the use of arguing? European Union strategies for the promotion of human rights in the United Nations. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
This paper explores two themes raised by the recent ECFR Audit of European Power in the UN, where it is argued that a group of states constituting an ‘Axis of Sovereignty’ is frustrating European efforts to promote human rights in the multilateral framework of the UN. The first is the extent to which ‘sovereignty’ and ‘multilateralism’ are antagonistic concepts, drawing on the writings of Ruggie, Kratochwil and Reus-Smit. Through them it is shown that the relationship is more complicated than simple opposition, and instead the two have emerged from specific historical processes in the modern international system. The second part of the paper analyses the newly emerging EU process of human rights promotion in the UNGA through building a multi-regional constituency of states supporting progressive HR norms, firstly through common statements and later through UNGA resolutions. It is shown that one of the most important elements in explaining the successful outcome of these campaigns (to date) is the orchestrated defence of the resolution through carefully prepared arguments. The ‘power’ of argumentation is analysed through three prisms; as normative power (Manners), as the logic of argumentation (Risse), and as rhetorical action (Schimmelfennig). It is argued that each one contributes a level of explanation as to how the concentric circles of influence around the EU are influenced by the process of argumentation, according to (a) the degree to which norms are preexisting, (b) willingly internalised at the national level, or (c) remain unaccepted but were unchallenged. The paper ended by offering some tentative suggestions towards an evolved set of fundamental institutions (Reus-Smit) in which a new concept of post-Westphalian sovereignty might be coupled to a norm of procedural justice favouring solidarist over pluralism.
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