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In human rights law the concept of vulnerability is increasingly being used to attract attention to the fact that people are differently resilient and that some are more prone to harm than others. Its use as a legal concept, however, is still embryotic and opens up to several questions. By scrutinising how the judicial bodies within two regional human rights systems – the African and the European – have referred to and used the concept, the article discusses the nature and function of vulnerability in interpreting rights. Discussing the function and the conceptualisation of vulnerability in such practice, it argues that although the idea of special protection implicit in the vulnerability thinking is not revolutionary as such, vulnerability argumentation may be seen as a supplementary safety mechanism, which can be used to widen and deepen the scope of measures of protection in cases where ‘regular’ protection is not enough to ensure the effective realisation of rights. At the same time, the article cautions against taking the neutrality of the vulnerability concept for given, as the use of the vulnerability reasoning may also lend itself to the selective protection of rights.
|Number of pages
|African Human Rights Law Journal
|Published - Dec 2020
|MoE publication type
|A1 Journal article-refereed
- special protection
- positive obligations
- regional human rights protection
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- 1 Oral presentation
Presentation 'Vulnerability as a Human Rights Principle: Comparing African and European Approaches', AfriDoors Conference, School of Law, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
Maija Mustaniemi-Laakso (Speaker)7 Oct 2019 → 11 Oct 2019
Activity: Talk or presentation › Oral presentation