The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) of Utrecht University has organised the SIM Peter Baehr lecture 2024 on the occasion of their 43th anniversary. The lecture will be delivered by Eva Brems, Professor of Human Rights Law at Ghent University, speaking on The State of Human Rights: an Attempt at Optimism. This year, the SIM Peter Baehr lecture is part of the Annual Toogdag of the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research (NNHRR), hosted in 2024 by SIM and Utrecht University Law School.

It has become a much-used trope to state that human rights are under pressure. From democratic backsliding to the weakening of the rule of law, and from shrinking civic space to violations of rights in the context of armed conflict, migration, and climate change, rights protection and thus people’s dignity and equality face severe challenges. As previous annual Toogdagen have reflected, this may even be called a multi-crisis of rights and especially affects people in vulnerable situations.

The 2024 Toogdag proposes to look at these matters from a different, complementary angle: not the pressures on human rights, but rather their resilience will be the starting point. It will thus focus on whether and how human rights can be resilient in the face of new challenges. Can, should and do they actually function as tools of inclusion and justice?