Lorenza Fontana

The Politics of Human Rights

Over the past 60 years, a broad set of international norms gained importance as instruments to regulate a globalising world. Enshrined in human rights conventions, these norms contribute to strengthen a platform for social mobilization and voice. The introduction of human rights standards at the domestic level, however, has also been responsible for the generation of new tensions on the interpretation and application of these norms. Yet, this type of conflict and polarization among social and political actors remain widely unexplored. This project examined how ‘human rights act in practice’ in the post-ratification phase using a multidisciplinary perspective and an empirical comparative approach. More precisely, it identified the conditions under which international norms generate consensus and cooperation versus fragmentation and conflict between domestic social and political actors and the consequences in terms of human rights practices. Empirically the project focused on vulnerable workers’ rights and particularly working children and domestic workers in Bolivia, Argentina and the Philippines.

The project was funded by a European Commission MCSA Fellowship n. 655710.


FONTANA L.B. (2020) ‘The Contentious Politics of Labour Rights as Human Rights: Lessons from the Implementation of Domestic Workers Rights in the Philippines’, Human Rights Quarterly 42: 859–877.

FONTANA L.B. and J. Grugel, (2019) ‘Human Rights and the Pink Tide in Latin America: Which Rights Matter?’, Development & Change 50 (3): 707-734.

FONTANA L.B. and J. Grugel (2017) ‘Deviant and Over-Compliance: The Domestic Politics of Child Labor in Bolivia and Argentina’, Human Rights Quarterly, 39 (3): 631-656.

FONTANA L.B. and J. Grugel (2017) ‘The New Left Agenda of Human Rights in Latin America: Which Rights Matter?’, Open Democracy, 26 November (English and Spanish).

FONTANA L.B. and J. Grugel (2016) ‘A New Course for Child Labour in Bolivia? Debates and Controversies around the Child Code’, Nueva Sociedad, August (Spanish).

Grugel, J, J. Nem Singh, L.B. FONTANA, A. Ulhin (eds.) (2016) Demanding Rights: Claiming Justice in the Global South. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

FONTANA L.B. and J. Grugel (2015) ‘To Eradicate or to Legalize?  Child Labour Debates and ILO Convention 182 in Bolivia’, Global Governance, 21 (1): 61-78.