Our New Visiting Fellow: Steven L.B. Jensen

5 September 2022

Steven L. B. Jensen is a Senior Researcher at The Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen and the author of the multiple prize-winning book The Making of International Human Rights. His main areas of speciality are contemporary human rights history (diplomatic, legal and political) and global health and human rights.

He just started as Visiting Fellow at the Geneva Academy and will stay with us until early December.

What motivated you to carry out a fellowship at the Geneva Academy?

The Geneva Academy has a strong combined focus on human rights research and practice. This is something I share - also in my historically oriented research. I feel a close affinity to the Geneva Academy’s aims. I am convinced that the Geneva Academy can offer me a great base to do my research while getting fresh inspiration from what is currently going on in international human rights circles. It is really great to be so close to the United Nations (UN) human rights ecosystem for a period while working on my book as well as to have access to the great research facilities Geneva offers.

What will be the focus of your research during this fellowship?

I am currently working on a book on the history of social and economic human rights in 20th century international politics, supported by a research grant from the Carlsberg Foundation. I will be working on a couple of the chapters for this forthcoming book.

Why are these issues important?

Firstly, we lack a solid and well-documented history of social and economic rights in 20th century international politics. It is a real gap. These rights have been subject to misinterpretations that have limited our understanding of their importance for the evolution of both the larger human rights framework after 1945 and for international politics and international organizations more widely.

Secondly, this type of historical work can inform contemporary human rights debates and diplomacy where a greater appreciation and engagement with these rights are crucial. Quite simply, on both counts we deserve better and qualifying our knowledge and expertise is a good place to start.

What will be the impact of this research?

My first book on the history of international human rights has had quite some impact in many places from local actors to a Head of State paraphrasing its findings in his annual speech to the UN General Assembly. I have seen how a very new take on human rights history that is meticulously researched, solid and diverse in its source-base and more representative of what actually transpired can inspire new perspectives on human rights. I dream of sparking a similar renewed interest in how we engage with social and economic rights and through that human rights more widely. We need better histories – also for the benefit of the future.

What do you expect from your time at the Geneva Academy?

Firstly, I expect to have seriously advanced two key chapters in my book. Secondly, fresh impulses and new inspiration coming out of the Geneva Academy environment and networks. I hope to be able to engage in conversations about how we can advance the discussions about social and economic rights. The UN has a seriously good story to tell – if it would only own it.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Open dump's view from the sky News

New Publication Details the Contours and Next Steps for the Right to a Healthy Environment

9 January 2023

Our new publication Human Rights and the Environment explores the implications of the recently recognised right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, with a focus on the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

11-15 September 2023

This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.

Read more

Senegal, Ziguinchor area, Bignona Department, Kataba 1 municipality, Kouram village. A woman works in a vegetable garden as part of an economic security programme. Project

Towards Food Sustainability: Reshaping the Coexistence of Different Food Systems in South America and Africa

Completed in February 2015

This six-year project aimed at providing evidence-based knowledge for the formulation and promotion of innovative strategies and policy options that improve food sustainability.

Read more

Madagascar, Miarinarivo district. Women transplanting rice. Project

The Rights of Peasants

Started in May 2008

After having provided academic support to the negotiation of the UN Declaration for ten years, this research project focuses on the implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Right to a Healthy Environment

published on December 2022

Megan Donald

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Briefing N° 21: Human Rights and the Environment

published on December 2022

Megan Donald

Read more