The 2008 launch of the Human Rights: Content & Discontent theme coincided with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In commemoration of the anniversary, the United Nations held several events. A variety of local, national, and international events were also held around the world. The Rutgers community joined these discussions and debates through a series of events focused on human rights.
The theme offered an opportunity to reflect on the notion of rights, the meaning of universality, and the tensions between the universal and particular. It encouraged questions such as: Who has a right to give rights? How are collective rights understood? Is there a right to repress? This focus on human rights touched on diverse concerns in areas such as the environment, education, and economics. It called attention to contemporary forms of discrimination and intolerance. The theme invited an examination of the connection between the nature and scope of human rights and global climate change.
Scholars, politicians, policymakers, and artists came to Rutgers for a series of panel discussions, workshops, and seminars. Events included the lecture, “Will We Take Poverty Seriously? Reflections on Addressing Poverty from a Human Rights Approach,” “Our Rights, Our Cultures: Muslim Women in West Africa and Struggles Over Definitions, Entitlements, and Power,” and “Cambodia 30 Years Post-Genocide: The Human Rights House Reflects on Their Trip to Cambodia.”