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CFP: Beijing International Conference on Human Rights

Saturday 16 – Sunday 17 October 2010
Beijing, China

Institute of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Philosophy Summer School in China

Sponsor: The Ford Foundation

Questions of human rights play a crucial role, both theoretically and practically, in contemporary intellectual culture. The complex discussion of human rights is characterised by depth, puzzlement and creativity, while the ethical assessment of individual societies and international institutions is sensitive to how human rights are recognised and implemented. The dynamic transformation of Chinese society over the past three decades has raised important questions in China about human rights. Wisdom in answering these questions will help China to continue to consolidate its internal confidence and extend its external influence as a strong and stable power, while faulty answers will impede development in both domestic and international affairs. Chinese philosophers, lawyers, social scientists and other intellectuals are contributing to the exploration of the terms and consequences of proposals regarding human rights in China, and they can be assisted by the experience of foreign colleagues, especially those enunciating influential accounts of human rights and those dealing with practical problems of large-scale rapid transformation in their own countries.

1. Objectives: The Conference will focus on the concepts, theories, principles and values of human rights and their application in Chinese or in other contexts. The Conference will also discuss proposals for improving the implementation of human rights in China or other countries. During the Conference free exchange of opinions and viewpoints and mutual understanding between participants from different cultures and countries on human rights will be promoted.

2. Participants: The conference will include invited participants and selected participants responding to this call for papers. Invited participants will be speakers at plenary sessions. Other participants, after their abstract is accepted and registration fee is paid, will speak at plenary or concurrent sessions. We welcome philosophers, lawyers, social scientists and other scholars to come to Beijing to participate in our Conference.

3. Invited Speakers

Professor Stephen Angle (Wesleyan University)
Professor Ci Jiwei (University of Hong Kong)
Professor Neera Chandhoke (University of Delhi)
Professor James Nickel (University of Miami)
Professor Randall Peerenboom (La Trobe University)
Dr John Tasioulas (University of Oxford)
Professor Leif Wenar (King’s College London)

4. Provisional Schedule:

Friday 15 October 2010
Social Event

Saturday 16 October 2010
Social Event

Sunday 17 October 2010
Closing Ceremony
Social Event

5. Venue: The Conference will take place at Beijing Oriental Cultural Hotel.

6. Language: The working languages of the Conference are Chinese and English.

7. Abstracts and Manuscripts: The abstracts by invited speakers and those responding to the call for papers should be sent to Professor Qiu Renzong rzq (at) chinaphs.org by email by 30 June 2010. The format of the abstract should be as follows:

The title of the abstract
Name of the author
Institution and academic position of the author
Email address
The text of the abstract

The full text of presentations should be sent to Professor Qiu Renzong rzq (at) chinaphs.org by email by 1 August 2010. Presentations by invited speakers will be 20-30 minutes and by those answering the call for papers will be 15-20 minutes.

8. Registration: Registration will be 09:00-18:00 on Beijing Oriental Cultural Hotel 15 October 2010. Invited speakers will be exempted from the Registration Fee. Other participants are required to pay a Registration Fee CNY 2000 (approximately USD 300, EURO 200 or GBP 190 depending on exchange rate at the time) to the Registration Desk. Students are required to pay CNY 1000.

9. Hotel Reservations: Information regarding hotel reservations will be provided later. Accommodation for invited speakers will be provided by the Conference for three nights: 15-17 October 2010, with extra nights and other costs paid by the speakers. Other participants will pay for their own accommodation.

10. Formal Invitation for Entry Visa: After receiving the abstracts, formal letters of invitation will be issued by 15 July 2010 to submit with visa applications by invited speakers and other participants whose abstracts have been accepted. Participants needing an invitation in order to apply for a grant should submit their abstracts as soon as possible to allow the processing of their invitation early.

Appendix: The following questions indicate some central issues to consider for the conference, but speakers are welcome to focus on other topics relating to human rights.

1. What does it mean to assert that something is a human right? How should we judge whether such a claim is justified?

2. Are all rights human rights? In what ways do other rights differ from human rights?

3. Are some human rights more important than other human rights?

4. Is there a human right to be free from poverty?

5. Are rights best understood one by one or as elements of a system of rights?

6. Do we need a theory of human rights in order to recognise violations of human rights?

7. Can there be a clash of rights? If so, how can they be settled?

8. What can philosophy, history, anthropology, religion, politics, law and economics contribute to the understanding of human rights? Which
disciplines provide the most important insights into human rights?

9. Are there philosophically useful ways of classifying human rights?

10. Do legal conceptions of human rights differ from moral conceptions of human rights?

11. Do human rights exist independent of legal recognition?

12. Is a Bill of Rights fundamentally undemocratic?

13. Are human rights that cannot be realised undeserving of the title of rights?

14. Who bears the duty to satisfy basic human rights?

15. Are human rights inalienable or can human beings forfeit human rights?

16. Can there be new human rights?

17. Should considerations of rights constrain the activities of government?

18. Can institutional arrangements violate human rights or be compliant with human rights?

19. Can institutional arrangements secure or defend rights without a culture of rights?

20. How is the theory of rights related to the theory of tolerance?

21. Are there collective rights as well as individual rights? If there are collective rights, are they human rights?

22. How is a theory of rights related to a theory of obligations? Is one more basic than the other?

23. Should we ground the whole of political philosophy on a theory of human rights?

24. Are human rights universal or are they applicable only at certain times and in certain places?

25. Are rights best defended by the judiciary and not by the legislature?

26. What is the role of groups in civil society in defending human rights?

27. Do the media have a special role regarding human rights?

28. What are the implications of human rights for international relations?