Government(ality) by experts: human rights as governance

Sokhi-Bulley, Bal (2011) Government(ality) by experts: human rights as governance. Law and Critique, 22 (3). pp. 251-271. ISSN 0957-8536

Full text not available from this repository.


The suggestion that the general economy of power in our societies is becoming a domain of security was made by Michel Foucault in the late 1970s. This paper takes inspiration from Foucault’s work to interpret human rights as tech- nologies of governmentality, which make possible the safe and secure society. I examine, by way of illustration, the site of the European Union and its use of new modes of governance to regulate rights discourse—in particular via the emergence of a new Fundamental Rights Agency. ‘Governance’ in the EU is constructed in an apolitical way, as a departure from traditional legal and juridical methods of gov- erning. I argue, however, that the features of governance represent technologies of government(ality), a new form of both being governed through rights and of gov- erning rights. The governance feature that this article is most interested in is experts. The article aims to show, first and foremost, how rights operate as tech- nologies of governmentality via a new relation to expertise. Second, it considers the significant implications that this reading of rights has for rights as a regulatory and normalising discourse. Finally, it highlights how the overlap between rights and governance discourses can be problematic because (as the EU model illustrates) governance conceals the power relations of governmentality, allowing, for instance, the unproblematic representation of the EU as an international human rights actor.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Depositing User: Bal Sokhi-Bulley
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2016 13:50
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2016 13:50
📧 Request an update