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Rights at Risk: The Observatory on the Universality of Rights Trends Report 2021


Time for Action

Today, a complex and evolving network of anti-rights actors is exerting more influence in international and regional spaces as well as domestic politics. Anti-rights actors are entering multilateral spaces (spaces where multiple countries come together for international collaboration) to transform and undermine them from the inside out. They employ a range of persuasive discourses to gain legitimacy, often co-opting the language of rights and justice to hide their true agendas.

This report is the second in a series on human rights trends reports produced by the Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs). As well as analysis of key anti-rights actors, discourses, strategies, and impacts, the report features inspiring short stories of feminist action, and knowledge-building exercises to help strengthen our collective resistance.

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Explore the Chapters


Chapter 1: Advancing Feminist Agendas: Key Progressions on Gender and Sexuality

While fundamentalisms, fascisms and other systems of oppression shapeshift and find new tactics and strategies to consolidate power and influence, feminist movements continue to persevere and celebrate gains nationally and in regional and international spaces.


Chapter 2: Understanding the Context of Anti-Rights Threats

The rising power of anti-rights actors is not happening in a vacuum. Understanding the rise of ultra-nationalism, unchecked corporate power, growing repression, and diminishing civic space is key to contextualize the anti-rights threats we face today.


Chapter 3: Anti-Rights Discourses

Anti-rights discourses continue to evolve.  As well as using arguments related to religion, culture, and tradition, anti-rights actors co-opt the language of social justice and human rights to conceal their true agendas and gain legitimacy.


Chapter 4: Anti-Rights Actors

A complex and evolving network of anti-rights actors is exerting increasing influence in international spaces as well as domestic politics. Often backed by obscure funding, these actors build tactic alliances across issues, regions, and faiths to increase their impact. 


Chapter 5: Anti-Rights Tactics, Strategies, and Impacts

Anti-rights actors adopt a double strategy. As well as launching outright attacks on the multilateral system, anti-rights actors also undermine human rights from within. Anti-rights actors engage with the aim of co-opting processes, entrenching regressive norms, and undermining accountability.


Chapter 6: Anti-Rights Trends in Regional Human Rights Systems

In the African Commission and the Inter-American System, anti-rights actors push essentialist notions of culture and gender to hamper progress on rights and undermine accountability. As we see, anti-rights actors are exerting influence in regional human rights systems, as well as international spaces.




The effect on our rights has already been grave, but this is not a done deal. We can all play a part in resisting anti-rights agendas and reclaiming our rights. 

Join the collective call-to-action today! 


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