Eric Boot

Winner Dissertation Prize 2017

Human Duties and the Limits of Human Rights Discourse.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. T. Mertens
Co-supervisor: Dr. R. Tinnevelt
Nomination: Radboud University Nijmegen, Faculty of Law

Report by the Selection Committee

The author of this excellently written dissertation displayed courage in dedicating himself to a subject that usually triggers aversion straight away: human rights obligations. A vague and paternalist concept, it is often said, and also a dangerous instrument favoured by dictators. Boot is fully aware of this dimension. Nevertheless, in a wonderfully constructed treatise, he argues that the perspective of obligations does make sense and, moreover, can contribute to a closer protection of human rights. This results in some exceptionally solid passages, for instance on the position of obligations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And his down-to-earth style, in which he always succeeds in exploring theoretical ideas through concrete situations, has produced a highly accessible book. Erasmus, the jury imagines, would thoroughly enjoy it.