In Human Rights and Their Limits (Cambridge University Press), Wiktor Osiatynski examines how the concept of human rights has developed in waves: each call for rights serves the purpose of social groups that try to stop further proliferation of rights after their own goals are reached.
Although a state of unlimited democracy threatens rights, excessive rights can limit resources indispensable for democracy. Human Rights and Their Limits argues that although rights are a prerequisite of freedom, they should be balanced with other values that are indispensable for social harmony and personal happiness.
At this Open Society Institute event, Wiktor Osiatynski discusses his book with OSI President Aryeh Neier.
Aryeh Neier is the President of the Open Society Institute. Prior to joining the Institute in 1993, he served for 12 years as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch.
Before that, he spent 15 years at the American Civil Liberties Union, including eight years as national Executive Director. Neier has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University for more than a dozen years.
Neier has contributed more than 150 op-ed articles in newspapers including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune, and articles that have appeared in newspapers in many countries.
Author of six books, he has also contributed chapters to more than 20 others. Neier, a naturalized American, was born in Nazi Germany and became a refugee at an early age. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the recipient of six honorary doctorates, the American Bar Association's Gavel Award and the International Bar Association's Rule of Law Award.
Wiktor Osiatynski is a professor at the Central European University in Budapest, where he teaches at the CEU Legal Program. He is a former codirector of the Chicago Law School's Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Eastern Europe and an advisor to a number of constitutional committees in Poland's parliament.
The author of more than 20 books, Osiatynski serves on the boards of the Open Society Institute, Open Society Justice Initiative, and Human Rights and Governance Grant Program. In 2007, he cofounded the Women's Party in Poland.
Richard A. Wilson is the Gladstein Distinguished Chair of Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut.
He is the author of numerous works on human rights, truth commissions and international criminal tribunals, including the books Maya Resurgence in Guatemala (1995) and The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa (2001) and the edited or co-edited books Low Intensity Democracy (1993), Human Rights, Culture and Context (1997), Culture and Rights (2001), Human Rights in Global Perspective (2003), Human Rights and the "War on Terror" (2005) and Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy (2008, Cambridge University Press).
Presently he holds a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is writing a book, Judging History: The Use of Historical and Social Science Evidence in International Criminal Trials.
Wilson is the chair of the Connecticut State Advisory Committee of the US Civil Rights Commission and is a member of the Committee for Human Rights of the American Anthropological Association. He is associate editor of the Journal of Human Rights.