This research project explores new thinking and theoretical approaches for dealing with the prevention of radicalization in a culturally diverse Europe by means of interpreting the human rights framework from an inclusive perspective.
The main purpose of this research project consists of unveiling a potential contribution that Regional Human Rights Systems (RHRS) could make towards the enhancement of the protection of ethno-cultural diversity and the prevention of ethno-cultural racism, intolerance, exclusion and the consequential processes of ethno-cultural auto-radicalization within European societies.
The principles and legal standards developed by the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I-ACtHR) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) could provide assistance in dealing with societal ethno-cultural claims within the human rights framework. The critical analysis of their jurisprudence could shed light on how to find the right balance between the protection of individual claims – based on communitarian or ethno-cultural views or traditions and/or expansive interpretation of the scope of protection of individual human rights – and the protection of the ‘common good’ or general societal interest, essential for the existence of an inclusive, cohesive and pluralist democratic society.
Processes of radicalization are becoming increasingly common within European borders, both as a result of radical and violent religious interpretations and cultural practices, but also as a potential counter cultural reaction vis-à-vis the exclusion and marginalization of diversity by the mainstream sectors of the society. The current debate in Europe regarding Islam (e.g. the use of the headscarf in public places), the growth of anti-Semitism and Afrophobia, and the increasing intolerance of refugees and economic migrants can all be seen as emerging examples of these destructive dynamics.
Therefore, the preservation of societal common interests, such as public order and safety – or even cultural traditions and identities – in open and pluralistic societies should also include the protection against ethno-cultural assimilation and discrimination. In fact, without the implementation of specific legal safeguards, the protection of the majoritarian ethno-cultural identity in a given society could substantially lead to the denial of recognition and fair accommodation of the cultural diversity intrinsically connected with the identity and dignity of ‘old’ or ‘new’ minorities.
Without cultural inclusion, persons belonging to ethno-cultural minority groups could be ‘tempted’ to embrace processes of self-radicalization as a ‘legitimized’ means of counter-reaction because of cultural exclusion, blindly identifying destructive violence as a potential ‘path’ for recognition and dignification of their own cultural identity and societal dignity.
The outcome of this project will be the publication of three articles in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals, and the elaboration of a research proposal for its further development.
Alejandro Fuentes is a Senior Researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI), an affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Lund University (Sweden) and –since 2022, a Professor of International Human Rights Law at Africa University (Zimbabwe). He received his Doctor of Laws (PhD) in International law and Master (LL.M) in Comparative and European Legal Studies from Trento University (Italy), and Law degree from the University of Córdoba (Argentina).
His main areas of expertise are international human rights law, with focuses on regional systems of human rights protection, local governance, human rights cities, and sustainable development. Additionally, Alejandro’s expertise convers a diverse set of collective and individual rights questions including cultural diversity, identity, minority, indigenous peoples, and children’s rights.
Some of the foundational questions that currently engage his research are related to balancing potential conflict of rights and how regional human rights courts search for a fair adjudicative balance between conflicting legal interests. For instance, regarding indigenous peoples rights, essential questions relate to how regional tribunals find a fair balance between the protection of their traditional lands and cultural practises, and the interest of national governments to exploit natural resources, support sustainable development and protect environmental rights.
Alejandro also has extensive experience in developing and implementing international development programmes. These programs are aimed at strengthening institutional capacities in partnership with local stakeholders, including governmental institutions and judicial actors, across the globe. These initiatives have largely focused on the advancement of human rights education (HRE) in academia, including the development of clinical legal education (CLE) at partner universities. Alejandro is currently in close collaboration with institutional partners in Africa (Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe); Europe (Belarus, Poland, Armenia, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, and –of course- Scandinavian countries); and the Americas (Mexico, Colombia, Cuba).
For further updates on his research, please refer to his Research profile: